• Celebrate 50 Years of Tone with Make'n Music!
  • Join our newsletter for new product updates, alerts, and more!
  • Have a question about an item? Call Us: (312) 455-1970
Fender Custom Shop

Exploring the Rich Variety of Tonewoods in Custom Guitars


In the world of guitars, the choice of tonewood can profoundly affect the instrument's sound, playability, and aesthetics. Different woods impart unique tones, making the selection of tonewood a critical decision for both builders and musicians. This article explores some of the most popular tonewoods used in guitar making, their characteristics, and the sounds they are best suited for.

A shining example of tonewoods


Characteristics: Mahogany is a dense, heavy wood known for its strength and ability to enhance sound sustain. It has a warm, rich tone with a lot of depth.

Common Use: Widely used for both bodies and necks, mahogany is favored in many rock and blues guitars for its full-bodied sound and smooth sustain.


Characteristics: Maple is a hard, dense wood with a bright, clear tone. It is known for its sharp clarity and sustain, which makes it excellent for live performances.

Common Use: Often used for necks and fretboards, maple is also popular for guitar tops, especially in semi-hollow and solid body electric guitars.



Characteristics: Rosewood is heavy and porous, with a warm, rich tone that is slightly darker than mahogany. It also enhances the complexity of mid-tones.

Common Use: Predominantly used for fretboards and bridges, rosewood is also found in acoustic guitar backs and sides, where it contributes to a rich, resonant sound.


Characteristics: Spruce is a light, yet strong wood, known for its bright and resonant qualities. It has a broad dynamic range and a crisp articulation.

Common Use: Spruce is the most common wood used for the tops of acoustic guitars because it provides an excellent balance of strength and elasticity, enhancing the guitar's loudness and clarity.



Characteristics: Alder is a lighter weight wood with a full and rich tone, providing excellent lows and mids. It’s particularly responsive and balanced.

Common Use: Popular in electric guitar bodies, such as those of many Fender Stratocasters, alder helps achieve a clear, full-bodied tone with robust mids and excellent sustain.


Characteristics: Cedar is softer than spruce, offering a warmer sound. It responds well to lighter playing styles and is known for its quick response and rich midrange.

Common Use: Often used in classical and fingerstyle acoustic guitars, cedar tops are favored for their mature sound quality even when new.


Characteristics: Ash varies in tone based on its density. Typically, it offers a bright tone with pronounced highs and strong lows.

Common Use: Ash is commonly used in electric guitar bodies. Its snappy attack and vibrant tone make it ideal for blues and rock.


Choosing the right tonewood is crucial for achieving the desired sound in a guitar. Whether you prefer the bright, sharp tones of maple or the deep, resonant sounds of rosewood, understanding the properties of each tonewood can help you find your perfect sound. As guitar makers continue to experiment with different wood combinations, the possibilities for creating diverse and richly textured sounds are endless.

Fender Custom Shop

Related Posts

Make'n Music ® is a registered trademark of Make'n Music LLC