A Lesson About Tonewoods in Acoustic Guitars

There are as many options as there are species of trees when it comes to selecting wood for your guitar, so the question is…Are certain choices better than others?

It is important to know that the top of an acoustic guitar, a.k.a. soundboard, performs a different function than the back and sides.

The top provides the vast majority of the vibrational sound produced by the guitar. The best topwoods tend to be lightweight, stiff softwoods like Spruce, Redwood, and Cedar. These woods vibrate actively, respond well, and have clarity within varying dynamic ranges due to their lightweight, stiff structure.
An example: Tap on a piece of Spruce (a common topwood) and listen to the sound as it vibrates.
Next, tap on a piece of Mahogany (or any other hardwood) and listen.
Notice the difference? The former has a more lively, sustaining sound while the latter is a more mellow, less sustaining noise.

The back and sides, on the other hand, are like the supporting cast in a movie. Denser hardwoods typically make the best backs/sides. The purpose of the back and sides is twofold. In a handmade guitar, the tone of the back is shaped, carved, and matched to the top to provide subtle harmony. The back and sides also function as the strong, durable parts of the guitar’s body, allowing the top to be thin and responsive.

Within these basic parameters, there are an incredible amount of options for your guitar. 

Continue to : Information on Guitar Tonewoods for Soundboards/Topwoods

Continue to : Information on Guitar Tonewoods for Backs and Sides

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