Do you feel lost when you look at a guitar’s spec sheet? Wondering how tonewood actually impacts the sound of a guitar? In this video, we’re going to talk about 10 of the most common tone woods guitars are made of and how they can transform tonal qualities.
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Guitar tonewoods can have a HUGE impact on your guitar’s sound. That’s why understanding what certain tonewoods sound like is important for playing and purchasing guitars.
Especially when it’s difficult to physically play a guitar in a shop, knowing the tonal properties of specific tonewoods can give you an idea of any given guitar’s sound.
You’ll also learn about how certain tonewoods interact with each other to create distinct sounds. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover the perfect tonewood combination after watching today’s episode!
In addition to talking about guitar tonewoods, you’re going to hear about TAC Family member Krozz, whose guitar journey has had many ups and downs but has hit its stride after following the TAC method.
Last but certainly not least, you’ll see the coolest acoustic guitar performances from around the web as well as a special surprise performance from my son, Ayden!
As always, you can catch Acoustic Tuesday at 10 am every Tuesday in these four places:
I want to build a 12-string for finger picking, with maple back & sides, and a Sitka top, using the J-200 plans.
I choose Redwood top with Rosewood (back and side)
Marty, can you explain, or better yet do, you have a recording of these two woods.
Santa Cruz makes a Redwood top with Rosewood back and sides that sounds amazing! I want to play on first before I buy.
I’m looking hard at a Timberline acoustic – specifically model T95 GAc Grand Auditorium Cutaway (https://www.timberlineguitars.com/blank-1). They list solid Silkwood back and sides. I’ve never heard about Silkwood – anywhere. What are your thoughts on it and Timberline guitars in general?
Thanks for this great tonewoods video, Tony! I’ll skirt the issue with a flat out “I don’t know what I’d choose.”
I have 5 acoustics; Sitka & Cedar tops, Rosewood / Mahogany / Myrtle back and sides, some with soundports. I’ll complicate things by saying each one makes me sing very differently, so subtleties for me have a considerably amplified effect on what comes out of me.
I maintain that it takes about 3-5 days at home with a guitar to begin to know what you really have and where to draw from it.
Since you mentioned marimbas, Dana B shares a beautiful marimba concept regarding harmonics at 23:10 in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei5-DkVTrEE . Wow, Dana is very generous in the luthier knowledge he’s putting out.
Not to be a sticky wicket, but I’d be inclined not to custom build but to search makers existing product which resonate with one’s tonal sensibilities. I’d have to have Redwood or Koa or Cherry for days to understand it well enough to choose. I gravitate towards some of the great makers you mentioned, also including UK’s Tom Sands and Aussie Nigel Forster. The beauty of that Froggy Bottom was stunning!
I would choose to use a sinker rewood top and myrtlewood back and sides, I believe myrtlewood (from here in Oregon) is kndo of a blend of rosewood and mahogany, and it looks like nothing else.
Tony – I think you should forget guitars and become a wine critic. I had to laugh out loud hearing you describe the sound of various woods in visual, olfactory, and even gustatory terms – this episode is an instant classic! Entertaining as hell!
Great show on the tonewoods! If I could custom pick my tonewoods , I would choose REDWOOD for the top and ROSEWOOD for the back and sides. Big congrats to Aiden and his band, very talented crew!!! And a big THANKS to Kirk Hammett for reminding us to have fun with our guitars, something that you Tony, say quite often!!!
I actually did build an acoustic about 25 years ago and love the combination of Flamed Koa back & sides with Sitka top (and rosewood and holly binding); it took 18 months but was definitely worth the time and effort ; I used the Cumpiano & Natelson book as my guide (well worth the read even if you don’t intend to build)
Adirondack Spruce and Rosewood back and sides.
Print your guitarsenal schemes on the back of the shirt and put a pocket on front. Those of us who carry a bit of age and excess poundage in the belly would look better and be more amenable to displaying your product.
Off the top, I would put together a guitar with a cedar top and mahogany or cherry back and sides. I say this because, I want to get a cedar top guitar, but am really not sure about what back and sides would get me a more crisp but mellow sound.
Hey Tony, this was my first Acoustic Tuesday session. I loved it. I have been working the TAC now for a little over a month, AND I am getting better. Better with my hands and motor memory as well as with licks and scale-improve stuff. Practising every day has made a huge difference in what I am doing with this. Thanks
Sinker Redwood sound board with Curly Koa Back and Sites.
Adirondack and Brasilian Rosewood
I love warmth, so I might build a guitar with cedar top and rosewood or cocobolo.
My perfect guitar #1: OM all Mahogany
My perfect guitar #2: Dred, Guatemalan RW paired with Swiss Spruce
I have the good fortune of owning both.
I am building a custom parlour guitar using cedar top and walnut back and sides. I think the walnut gives some extra brightness to the warm cedar top.
Italian spruce (or possibly Adirondack) with Madagascar Rosewood. I played an “Adi-Madi” Bourgeois deep body OM that was amazing!!
I think I’d Like Adirondack Spruce for the top and Rosewood for the back and sides. I’m going to look for one or two to see how they sound.
Great tone wood review Tony!
How about Swiss Spruce top and cherry back and sides or cedar top and redwood back and sides. I had a Pimentel classical with that combo, warm and sweet!
Thank you so much! Always great to get the Acoustic Letter!
Since I live in the tropics.. my choices will be a Sitka top (an imported wood) and either a tropical Ebony, Gmelina, Mango, or Acacia back / sides. I really need to listen in person, at the the local maker’s shop.. to them All… before choosing.
Mine wood (get it) be all Mahogany. I know it ain’t that expensive but a nice all Mahogany Martin is in my future. I do have to say though, that my Sitka top/Myrtlewood back and sides of my Breedlove Oregon Concertina sounds pretty fantastic. Not bad for an impulse purchase from Sweetwater. The Breedlove folks are also great to deal with, as well as Sweetwater.
Until next week…
Great show, Tony. It was fascinating to hear about the tone woods you selected. I was wondering about two others that Taylor is using a lot of – ovinkol and sapele. One is supposed to be like rosewood (ovingkol) and the other more like mahogany. What do you think? I’d be interested to know your thoughts.
Oh by the way – Sitka spruce and rosewood.
I would choose an Adirondack Spruce top with Cherry Wood back and sides.
My custom guitar would have a bearclaw sitka spruce top with cherry back and sides, a Martin 000 size body with mother of pearl bear paw inlays in the fretboard. 🙂
Keep doing your thing, you continue to inspire me throughout this pandemic and my 30+ year guitar journey. Guitarsenal picture to follow!!
Excellent podcast Mr. P what do you think of composite back woods (i.e. Martin Road series 12e) Love this guitar but it feels sacrilegious to us a composite .. thought of replacing but I love the feel of it and the sound …the fretboard is also a composite.
I have had the good fortune to build 2 custom Martin guitars, both in the 35 style with cutaway using wild grain Rosewood for the back and sides. The Dreadnaught has an Adirondack top; it is an absolute powerhouse; this is my go-to rhythm guitar. The 000 has a Moon Spruce top; it is the most articulate guitar that I have ever played; the response of this guitar to your attack picks up every nuance of your playing. If I had to pick one guitar to keep, it would be the 000 – it is an incredibly versatile instrument.
I call the pair twins sons of different mothers in honor of Dan Fogelberg (and Tim Weisberg).
Does one guitar company do a tone wood better that others?
I played that album a ton back in the day
Hello, the clip with your son’s band was too short and it would have been great to hear the rest of the tune. It seemed that with every strum and every beat, their confidence grew in synergy as a with the song’s vibrato and energy.
R Hays Lehman
Cherry top and Mahogany back, sides, and neck. I tend to go dark and I think it would be perfect with what I play
If you ever get a chance to listen to an acoustic guitar made of Australian Blackwood, give it a go. I have Maton EBW-70C (left-handed). The “BW” references Blackwood. I love my D-28, D-41, GPCA-1 and my L and 000 Martins and Gibsons, but this Maton is … it sounds like nothing else I’ve ever played. The tonal balance is what stands out most to me, and the electronics it ships with are the best I’ve ever heard from any manufacturer on earth.
Wooden change a thing on my Seagull Artist series Sitka top,
Mahogany back and sides guitar.
My Dram Guitar would be Sitka Spruce Top and Koa Sides and back