5 Tonewoods You Just Cannot Avoid for your Guitar

5 Tonewoods You Just Cannot Avoid for your Guitar

When carefully crafting a guitar, several aspects are taken into consideration. In the case of an electric guitar, there are a range of design elements that contribute to the overall sound; pickup types, electronics setup, hardware, and tonewood choices are only a few to remember. However, when it comes to acoustic guitars, the wood configuration is arguably more essential. If you take electronics and hardware out of the equation, the wood choices for the body, neck, and fretboard account for upwards of 90% of the design of an acoustic guitar, and they're almost entirely responsible for how it sounds. 

People could use the finest or even the rarest of woods for their guitars a long time ago, when almost all forms of woods were plentiful. People are forced to compromise on their wood choices as a result of widespread use and overexploitation of wood. This is partly due to regulatory changes that limit the movement of certain rare woods, most notably rosewood, granadillo, and bubinga. 

To protect species from drastic declines in numbers, CITES (short for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) introduced these reforms, which meant that any guitar made with these woods required CITES approval in order to be exported across borders – naturally, building guitars became a longer process with higher prices. Nowadays, acoustic guitar manufacturers use a wealth of different wood types, with exotic and alternative woods being used more commonly to avoid hefty fees and maintain consistent output; so without further ado, let’s delve deep into the world of acoustic guitar tonewoods.


Walnut has a slightly warmer sound than maple, but it also has a long sustain. Walnut looks better with oil finishes and is heavier than maple, but also lighter. Walnut is a thick wood with a dazzling brightness. However, it varies in the midrange, with a healthy bark that positions it somewhere between rosewood and mahogany. It's worth noting that, like koa, walnut's tone can warm and soften with age. It's usually easier to find and work with, resulting in more widespread use and a lower price tag. Its tonal brightness, woody midrange, and dark, rich appearance have made it legendary among luthiers; for many, it's a departure from the usual suspects, resulting in a special and playable instrument.



Tone wood that is inexpensive, simple to work with in the factory, and easy to cut, sand, and polish. Basswood is a soft wood with tight grains that will dampen and soften sharp highs. The thin tinny sound associated with knife edged tremolo contacts is reduced. Basswood's softness also promotes a weaker bottom end. It's bright, but not because of the big pores. Instead, it has a low overall mass. Basswood does not resonate with deep, breathy sub-lows. In a hypothetical response curve, the reduction in these outer frequencies makes the mids more prominent.



For necks and fretboards, this is a very common wood. Because of its bright tone, distinctive grain patterns, and moderate weight, it's easy to spot. Its tonal characteristics include a lot of bite and strong sustain. It's almost as thick as hard ash, but thanks to its tight grain, it's a lot easier to finish and lasts a long time. Since hard maple is difficult to deal with on factory equipment, it's normally reserved for slimmer guitars. With bright highs and a strong upper midrange, it really stands out.



This wood comes in a wide range of brown and purple hues. It produces a warm, rich sounding guitar with a lot of volume and resonance. Brazilian rosewood, on the other hand, is no longer available in commercial quantities or condition. As a consequence, it now commands high prices. Brazilian has a louder bottom end and a bell-like sound in the trebles, according to most listeners. Indian rosewood has replaced Brazilian rosewood as the most common replacement. In general, this wood is less appealing than Brazilian, with a more noticeable purple colour and coarser grain markings.

In most cases, making a solid guitar out of Rosewood would be too heavy and/or costly. This is due to the wood's scarcity and high cost. Furthermore, the porous nature of the wood necessitates a large amount of "pore fill" (and subsequent labour) before lacquer can be applied. While Rosewood is a very hard wood (harder than Maple), it has a warmer tone due to its porous nature.



In comparison to rosewood, it has a bright attack, a long sustain, and excellent longevity. Ebony has the consistency and crispness of Maple, but with more brittle grains, oilier pores, and a stronger fundamental tone. Ebony boards are not used on most machine-made guitars, such as PRS. Because of the brittle grain of Ebony, care must be taken when fretting it, and it must be done by hand. In the pick attack, there are a lot of percussive overtones that mute out quickly to allow for a nice, long sustain. Ebony sounds better on a guitar with a long neck because it's more percussive, and as long as you don't have a very hard wood body like solid Maple or solid Bubinga, it's a great tonal mix, but it's about ten times the price of rosewood.


Exotic Wood Zone offers top notch tonewoods with variety. Carefully learn more about tonewoods and choose from the dozens of tonewoods we have to offer. Visit https://exoticwoodzone.com/search?q=tone+woods to learn more about these different types of tonewoods and more.