posted a video of a guy from a guitar shop comparing three tonewoods---rosewood, sapele, and mahogany, I believe. The main reason for this is that it suits just about any and every style of playing. Rosewood is popular for fretboards thanks to its smooth feel, but its durability is also crucial. Its stunning appearance is one of the main reasons that Koa is so sought-after, but it has more than a little to do with tone as well. Sam is one of our content writers, as well as being our resident southpaw and synth enthusiast. Wood can be arranged and utilised in a number of ways when it comes to building acoustic guitars. Cedar tends to produce slightly richer overtones, and this results in a tone with less sparkle but more character. Another way to put it might be if you were to think of Mahogany as 1 on a scale of 10, and Rosewood was 10. As we touched on earlier in this article, mahogany is a stiff, hard and dense tone wood that provides a distinctly wood and warm tone. Restrictions to many of these woods. The deep, pronounced grain is very reminiscent of mahogany but sapele tends to be a little lighter red/amber coloured and can often be striped between large dark and light patches (sometimes an inch or more in thickness). Sitka’s combination of strength and elasticity translates into a broad dynamic range, yielding crisp articulation and allowing for everythi… As with maple, this could be a cosmetic issue; acoustic guitars are widely perceived to look better with darker fretboards. most notably rosewood , was lifted on 14/12/19. White Oak is another wood with a low velocity of sound and a high degree of internal damping. Sitka Spruce is used more than any other species for guitar soundboards. In summary, it provides a punchier and darker tone than rosewood, with a prominent midrange. Light, golden colour with a rich variety of distinct grain types. Rosewood and mahogany give different sounds and it's up to you which you prefer. It’s also prized for volume, balance and articulation, making it one of the best all around tonewoods there is. Summary: similar tone to mahogany but with a little extra high-end definition, with stripy red colouration. Dark, stripy appearance. You can read more about the hard science behind evaluating tonewoods here: Sitka Spruce is used more than any other species for guitar soundboards. As well as looking great on the top of an acoustic, it lends itself very well to plugged-in performances thanks to that quality note definition. It’s a less dense wood than spruce, providing you with a slightly darker tone. Spruce is generally creamy white to a pinkish light brown in colour, depending on the variety in question. With its rich brown color and occasional streaks, Black Walnut has a “stripy” appearance and finishes beautifully. ‘Transparent’ is a word commonly used to describe the inherent tone of maple, and it will frequently provide considerably more treble than the rosewood or mahogany alternatives mentioned earlier. East Indian Rosewood (often referred to as EIR) is easier to produce and therefore considerably cheaper. Summary: bright, immediate tone with excellent projection. Some observe a slight mid-scoop with slightly enhanced lows as well as highs. Indian rosewood is far more widespread, but the CITES restrictions mean that it’s quite rare to see Brazilian rosewood in use on a production guitars nowadays – if you’ve got one, count yourself lucky! If you are actually thinking of some other model, pay attention to whether the sapele is described as "solid". Bubinga is a heavy wood for a body, but it will have great sustain. Much lighter in weight than rosewood, koa or maple. Many people have been charmed into spending their hard-earned cash on a guitar with maple back and sides almost purely thanks to its spellbinding aesthetics. Like Sitka, it offers a strong fundamental, but it also produces a lush layer of overtones. In terms of tone, ebony provides a very responsive bright, snappy and crisp attack coupled with a smooth sustain. Here’s a selection of some of the most common options and their characteristics: Rosewood has arguably been the most common fretboard wood for quite some time, although it took a dip under CITES restrictions – but will no doubt grow in popularity once again. Tops made out of Red Spruce have the highest volume ceiling of any species, and a unique sparkling edge to the tone that retains clarity at all dynamic levels. Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Sapele has been reported as a skin and respiratory irritant. It’s low velocity of sound produces a rich, balanced mid-range, without favoring the bass or treble frequencies. ... African Mahogany vs Sapele vs Utile Lumber. Mahogany tops are often left unpolished so that the natural aesthetic of the wood can be enjoyed. If the wood is less dense, the sound will have more space in the grain to move around in, so you can expect a darker resonance with increased sustain! Learn, © 2020 Andertons Music Company Different manufacturers tend to favour different wood choices, but in recent years the industry has seen a shift in trends. It’s technically a brand name, but in the guitar world, it means a composite of materials that’s bonded by a number of resins. Looking for more tonewood info? Light, golden colour with a rich variety of distinct grain types. It is well known for making an instrument sound bright and loud, and generates a tight, focused tone with little overtone presence. If you do buy a Koa guitar, bear in mind that it will seem very bright at first and will need some attention and use over time to mellow out. You’ll see a number of species of used in acoustic guitar construction, the most common being Sitka, Engelmann (also known as European) and Adirondack (also known as Eastern Red Spruce). That’s because they’re easy to work with and respond well to tension. Maple might make a good option for a fingerboard if your body wood offers a darker, warmer tone; the maple will balance it out and deliver a more balanced tone. Sapele. We’ll be able to offer it for a long, long time. Engelmann for example, tends to be a little whiter and creamier than Sitka, but all Spruces are in the same ballpark ‘creamy white’ category. There are several reasons for this, but its appearance certainly isn’t one of them; maple tonewood can boast numerous different figuring patterns, all of which can look absolutely stunning! Often recommended for a flat-picked sound and mellow finger-style playing. Summary: rarely used as a top, but produces a warm tone with excellent midrange and bass emphasis, with a reddish-orange colour and an even grain pattern. Yields a surprisingly strong, loud sound with an emphasis on clear, bright airy trebles. Mahogany topped acoustic guitars are not especially common but have been around since the ‘20s. Curly maple (also known as flamed Maple) and quilted maple are the two most commonly seen, although birdseye maple does make an appearance every now and then. This is partially due to changes in regulation that restrict the circulation of certain rare woods, most notably affecting rosewood, granadillo and bubinga. The combinations of woods therefore need to be considered carefully when they are paired up, and it is for this reason that acoustic guitars frequently feature different woods on the back and sides than they do on the top.