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Guitar Tonewoods A Simple Guide For Beginners

 

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Malaysian Blackwood Guitar

The wood used in making an acoustic guitar is very important since it helps in creating the ideal tone of a guitar. Different species of wood used in construction of a guitar produce different sounds, which increase the ambiance of your guitar, durability, tone and time taken for it to age. The type and quality of wood used in the construction of your guitar is also one of the most important factors that determine the final price of the guitar.

The word tonewood has a magical nuance in the world of guitars. But simply put, tonewood is the wood that is used in the construction of a guitar and it highly contributes to it's tone. Woods that are of the same species grown in different areas will have a slight difference in sound production, and have different densities and weights. The sonic elements exist not only between the woods, but, in more subtle degrees, between different guitars from similar wood, which is part of the magic in tonewoods.

In the case of the best acoustic guitar, this is mainly the body of the guitar and it is divided into two sections: the top (soundboard), and the sides and the back (they are considered together since they are often made with almost the same material).

A guitars unique voice comes from within the grains of these woods it is constructed from. When used on different parts of a guitar, tonewoods bear different characteristics. Tonewoods can also have different characteristics when used on different models of guitars even though they have been built by the same manufacturer. For a beginner, you are not likely to notice the impact tonewood has on the tone of an acoustic guitar. Here's a mini guide for you

Laminate wood versus solid wood

Cheaper instruments are often constructed with laminated wood (several layers of wood are glued together) while the more expensive best acoustic guitars are made from solid wood one piece of wood.

In an all laminated body guitar, the back, the top and the sides will be constructed with laminated wood pieces, and in most typical cases, the top is made with laminated spruce while the sides and the back are made with laminated mahogany.

In solid wood construction, the guitar is made from solid sheets of wood. The top and the back of an all solid constructed guitar is made by joining two like solid sheets to create the back and the top forming a center line at the join down.

Using solid wood in the construction of an acoustic guitar is advantageous since it is more resonant and has much better tone than a laminate guitar. Additionally, most solid tonewoods, especially spruce, improve with time as the wood dries up and become resonant. On the downside, solid wood is particularly difficult to work with, more expensive, therefore, making the price of solid wood guitars also very expensive.

Laminate wood is cheap and easier to work with, making it a very economical option if you need to keep your costs down. Although solid guitars improve their tonal quality over time, laminated guitars are the opposite. They degenerate their tonal quality though this takes quite a longer period (dont panic!).

Solid wood constructed guitars are better. However, there are some guitars available in the market that are made with solid wood at the top, and the back and sides, are made with laminated wood making an economical compromise between the tone and price.

Hard woods and soft woods

Hard woods have a bright and snappy sound. They give acoustic guitars a nice tone. Hardwood often reflects sound making it a great wood for the construction of guitars. Mahogany is a common type of hardwood and it's used in making the top of some guitars and also the sides, back and necks. Rosewoods are mostly used in the sides or backs of guitars while Maple is traditionally used at the necks of guitars. Other types of hardwoods include Ebony, Koa, and Basswood.

Soft wood have a mellow warm tone. These woods have resonant qualities and are often used in the construction of acoustic guitar bodies. Softwood often absorbs sound which may not be a great quality in an acoustic guitar. Spruces are often used in making the tops of acoustic guitars because of it's high stiffness-to-weight ratio. Cedar is also used because it has a high weight- to- stiffness ratio too. Other examples of softwoods are pine, fir and redwoods which are less used in the making of acoustic guitars.

The right type of wood in the construction of an acoustic guitar plays a very important role in the tonal quality of guitar. Wood, when considered generically, is only responsible for only some specific aspects of the tone of an acoustic guitar. Similarly important is the design of the guitar, expertise of the maker, and the quality of each pieces of wood that make the guitar.

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Posted in Music Post Date 01/27/2017


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