Overview of Acoustic Guitar Woods

Many woods are used to make up the various parts of the guitar.   With the shortage of quality materials companies have been looking for alternatives to provide high quality instruments that don’t take a large footprint of our natural resources.   In general the majority of the acoustic guitars have a spruce or cedar top,  and a back and sides made from either sapele, mahogany, rosewood, or maple.   There are others but that is what is used for the bulk of the acoustic guitars.

Here is a table of these common woods with their typical usage and sound profile:

Wood Characteristics Typical Use
Sapele Warm sound with good mid-range tones, becoming more common than mahogany as has similar qualities and is more abundant. back, sides, neck
Rosewood Tends to give a little more volume in the bass and shimmering high notes. Brazilian rosewood is prized but very difficult to obtain now. East Indian Rosewood is the more common variety used now. back, sides, bridge, fret-board
Mahogany Warm sound with good mid-range. Bass and treble notes tend to be more subdued. back, sides, bridge, neck, top
Maple Brighter sound over all. Sound tends to work well in a group where there are other instruments. The sound doesn’t get lost in the overall sound of the band. back, sides, neck
Ebony Used on higher end instruments for the fret-board and bridge. As a smooth silky feel when playing. fret-board


In addition to solid wood guitars there are guitars made from laminates or “layered”  wood.   It is real wood but it is a thin piece of would glued to another thin piece of wood and is usually found on the lower end guitars.   While guitar enthusiasts will say you should always get the real wood guitar if you can afford it there are some benefits with the laminate wood in that it is not as sensitive to climate and humidity changes.





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