Choosing wood

If we want to understand the influence of wood on tone we need to divide wood into at least 5 different categories:

  • Softwoods

  • Average soft and dense woods

  • Average dense and hardwoods

  • Hard and heavy woods

  • Hard, heavy and oily woods

Soft and less dense woods

In this category we can find birch and poplar woods. They shouldn’t be used for guitar construction because of their low toughness, density. Their tone has medium extent and it is deaf a little with quite a short degradation.

Average soft and dense woods

In this category we can find alder wood and swamp ash wood and some kinds of mahogany woods etc. It brings good sustain, volume, and wide frequency extent of tones.

Average dense and hardwoods

In this category we can find very resonant woods. Maple, which is the best wood for necks and some heavier woods as mahogany, ash and also walnut woods. These woods make sound with great sustain, big volume and wide frequency extent of tones.

Hard and heavy woods

In this category we can find mostly exotic woods as ebony, Pau Ferro, Wenge, Purple Heart, Bubinga, Padauk, Zebrano, Ovangkol. They are used mostly for fingerboards, but also for whole necks. They offer clear sound with long sustain, but lower volume. It is recommended to use these woods for neck pieces because they increase the density of the neck. They can be also used to the tops combining it with more neutral woods as mahogany, alder or ash woods. These hardwoods can help strengthen and improve the sustain and also make the attack sharper.

Hard, heavy and oily woods

This category consists of woods that have different content of oil and resin and it can differ from the minimum of rosewood to the maximum of Teak, Cocobolo, Bocote, Ziricote. These woods have tone, which can move from good sustain and low volume (minimal oil content) to general deaf tone (more oily) and they should be used with caution strictly speaking with a thinner fingerboard or thinner top board. For example, palisander is an oily wood and it subtracts the sound from resonating neck and it should be used as a very thin layer. Or it could be used where it is needed to darken the colorful tone of the instrument that is too clear.