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Tonewood Types

Alder - American Red

Alder - American RedGuitarbuild Tone Gauge
    • Name: Alder - American Red
    • Latin Name: Alnus rubra
    • Origin: North America
  •  USED FOR YES NO NOTES
    Bodies  ✔    
    Neck Backs    ✔  
    Fretboards    ✔  
    Finish Required   ✔    
  • Finishing  

    All the usual methods can be used for surface treatment and the wood is very suitable for staining and polishing.  You can also use oils and waxes.

    Details

    Exclusively used for guitar and bass bodies.  Light brown to reddish in colour and has a closed grain which does not require grain filling before finishing, making it an ideal choice for the guitar builder and hobbyist.  Looks great with a sunburst or solid colour. Alder has been used since the early 1950’s for guitar bodies.

American Ash

American Ash Guitarbuild Tone Gauge
    • Name: American Ash
    • Latin Name: Fraxinus Americana
    • Origin: North America
  •  USED FOR YES NO NOTES
    Bodies  ✔    
    Neck Backs    ✔  
    Fretboards    ✔  
    Finish Required   ✔    
  • Finishing  

    All the usual methods can be used for surface treatment and the wood is very suitable for staining and polishing.  You can also use oils and waxes.

    Details

    Very hard wood also heavy, if you have a bad back this is not the wood for you! If you are looking for a bright tone and like a heavy body, then this wood is very popular. You will need to grain fill this wood. With pronounced darkening of the heartwood with varying diameters down the lengths of the wood. Small dark patches can occur as well as frequent figuring, cream colour with hints of brown.

Bubinga

BubingaGuitarbuild Tone Gauge
    • Name: Bubinga
    • Latin Name: Guiburtia tessmanii
    • Origin: Africa
  •  USED FOR YES NO NOTES
    Bodies  ✔    
    Neck Backs  ✔    
    Fretboards  ✔    
    Finish Required   ✔    
  • Finishing  

    All the usual methods can be used for surface treatment and the wood is very suitable for staining and polishing.  You can also use oils and waxes.

    Details

    Brown to violet-red in colour. Hardwood, very strong wood with great midtones. Used a lot in the USA for necks and body laminated tops.

Ebony

Ebony Guitarbuild Tone Gauge
    • Name: Ebony
    • Latin Name: Diospyros melanoxylon
    • Origin: India
  •  USED FOR YES NO NOTES
    Bodies    ✔  
    Neck Backs    ✔   
    Fretboards  ✔    Limited Stock
    Finish Required     ✔  Not essential but Danish oil or tung oil work very well.
  • Finishing  

    Not essential but Danish oil or tung oil work very well.

    Details

    The wood is black with brown regular or irregular reddish-brown to green-brown streaks. The wood has a distinct sheen and is most decorative. Mainly used for fretboard, the darker the colour the higher the cost. Guitar builders favourite. Limited stock.

Indian Rosewood

Indian RosewoodGuitarbuild Tone Gauge
    • Name: Indian Rosewood
    • Latin Name: Dalbergia latifolia
    • Origin: India
  •  USED FOR YES NO NOTES
    Bodies    ✔  
    Neck Backs    ✔   
    Fretboards  ✔    
    Finish Required     ✔  Not essential but Danish oil or tung oil work very well.
  • Finishing  

    Not essential but Danish oil or tung oil work very well.

    Details

    Most popular fretboard wood, Indian Rosewood. Does not require a finish although we like to finish ours with Danish oil or tung oil for a silky-smooth finish. Colour varies, brown-purple, yellow/orange tint occasionally.

Swamp Ash

Swamp Ash Guitarbuild Tone Gauge
    • Name: Swamp Ash
    • Latin Name: Fraxinus nigra
    • Origin: North America, Eastern Canada
  •  USED FOR YES NO NOTES
    Bodies   ✔    
    Neck Backs    ✔   
    Fretboards    ✔  
    Finish Required   ✔    
  • Finishing  

    All the usual methods can be used for surface treatment and the wood is very suitable for staining and polishing. You can also use oils and waxes. We love a clear finish on the Swamp Ash to show its natural beauty.

    Details

    Looking for awesome tone? Lightweight? This is the one for you, due to its resonant qualities it’s a Guitarbuild favourite! Swamp Ash has been used since the early 1950’s for guitar bodies, the wood is much lighter than standard American Ash and Guitarbuild also offer premium Swamp Ash if you are looking for something extra special. Popping out bright and warm tones.

Korina

KorinaGuitarbuild Tone Gauge
    • Name: Korina
    • Latin Name: Terminalia superba
    • Origin: Africa
  •  USED FOR YES NO NOTES
    Bodies   ✔    
    Neck Backs  ✔     
    Fretboards  ✔    
    Finish Required   ✔    
  • Finishing  

    All the usual methods can be used for surface treatment and the wood is very suitable for staining and polishing. You can also use oils and waxes.

    Details

    The colour can vary. Has the desired light yellow colour, medium weight, good all round wood. Great for chambered bodies and necks too.

Mahogany

Mahogany  Guitarbuild Tone Gauge
    • Name: Mahogany
    • Latin Name: Entandophragma cylindricum
    • Origin: Africa
  •  USED FOR YES NO NOTES
    Bodies   ✔    
    Neck Backs  ✔     
    Fretboards  ✔    
    Finish Required   ✔    
  • Finishing  

    All the usual methods can be used for surface treatment and the wood is very suitable for staining and polishing. You can also use oils and waxes.

    Details

    If you are looking for a warm tone and like a medium - heavy body then this wood is a very popular choice. Great sustain, some of the major USA brands use this wood. Very easy to grain fill this wood, great for chambered bodies and necks too.

American Plain Maple

Maple American PlainGuitarbuild Tone Gauge
    • Name: American Plain Maple
    • Latin Name: Acer saccharum, Acer nigrum
    • Origin: North America
  •  USED FOR YES NO NOTES
    Bodies   ✔    It is Heavy
    Neck Backs  ✔     
    Fretboards  ✔    
    Finish Required   ✔    
  • Finishing  

    Hard Maple can be surface treated with almost any finish. Staining not as easy as some other woods.

    Details

    By far the most popular neck wood to keep the vintage vibe, this is the wood you want for your neck. Due to its resistance to friction, it is the most suitable wood for necks. The figure varies and can have brown markings due to the so called "sugar" that occurs in Hard Maple. We also use this wood for bodies, great bright tone.

Flame Maple

Flame Maple Guitarbuild Tone Gauge
    • Name: Flame Maple
    • Latin Name: Acer macrophyllum
    • Origin: North America
  •  USED FOR YES NO NOTES
    Bodies     ✔  
    Neck Backs  ✔     
    Fretboards  ✔    
    Finish Required   ✔    
  • Finishing  

    Any surface treatment can be done without any problem. Polished surfaces are especially decorative.

    Details

    Flame varies, tight, wide, straight and highly figured. Best for book matched tops and looks great for necks too. Bright tone.

Birds Eye Maple

Birds Eye MapleGuitarbuild Tone Gauge
    • Name: Birds Eye Maple
    • Latin Name: Acer saccharum
    • Origin: Northern parts of North America
  •  USED FOR YES NO NOTES
    Bodies     ✔  Only laminated tops
    Neck Backs  ✔     
    Fretboards  ✔    
    Finish Required   ✔    
  • Finishing  

    Birdseye Maple is particularly suitable for staining and clear finishes. Producing an exquisite look.

    Details

    Best for book matched tops and looks great for necks too. Birds eye intensity can vary, ask about our selection service to select a unique piece. Bright tone. Different grades available, see “Grades” tab for details.

    • AAAAA = Deep figure all over, fine straight grain
    • AAAA = Figure everywhere, straight grain
    • AAA = Random Figure (some unfigured spots)
    • AA = Slight figure
    • A = Very little figure

Poplar

Poplar Guitarbuild Tone Gauge
    • Name: Poplar
    • Latin Name: Liriodendron tulipifera
    • Origin: USA
  •  USED FOR YES NO NOTES
    Bodies  ✔    
    Neck Backs    ✔  
    Fretboards    ✔  
    Finish Required   ✔    
  • Finishing  

    All the usual methods can be used for surface treatment and the wood is very suitable for staining and polishing. You can also use oils and waxes.

    Details

    Very similar to Alder in properties, can be used for solid bodies, looks great with solid finishes and clear finish, brings out the natural beauty. Staining also a great option, no grain filling required.

Walnut

WalnutGuitarbuild Tone Gauge
    • Name: Walnut
    • Latin Name: Juglans nigra
    • Origin: North America
  •  USED FOR YES NO NOTES
    Bodies   ✔    
    Neck Backs  ✔     
    Fretboards  ✔    
    Finish Required   ✔    
  • Finishing  

    Walnut is particularly suitable for clear finishes. Producing an exquisite look. You can also use oils and waxes. Some grain filling maybe required, but not essential.

    Details

    The fruits, walnuts, are cultivated for their distinctive and desirable taste, but we love this wood for its natural beauty, looks amazing under a clear finish. Similar tone to Maple, but not quite as heavy.

Zebrawood

Zebrawood Guitarbuild Tone Gauge
    • Name: Zebrawood
    • Latin Name: Microberlinia brazzavillensis
    • Origin: West Africa
  •  USED FOR YES NO NOTES
    Bodies   ✔    It's heavy
    Neck Backs  ✔     
    Fretboards  ✔    
    Finish Required   ✔    
  • Finishing  

    Zebrawood is particularly suitable for clear finishes. Producing an exquisite look. You can also use oils and waxes. Grain filling maybe required.

    Details

    The heartwood is light grey to yellow with distinct dark brown stripes. We love this wood for its natural beauty, looks amazing under a clear finish. Book matched tops look great. Open grain, heavy. Gorgeous.

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