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GUITAR WOODS: ASH
The ash tree grows up to 80-120ft (25 to 36 meters), with a diameter of about 2-5ft (0.6 to 1.5 meters).
Weight varies from very light soft swamp ash to heavier types getting up from 36lb/ft3 to 41lb/ft3 (580 kg/mt3 to 660 kg/mt3).
Under the generic name of "ash" are gathered a number of different ash
families among which: "red ash" also known as "pumpkin ash" (fraxinux prufunda) which is what
we guitar makers call "swamp ash", a tree growing in the swamp areas of Mississippi and Alabama
and other heavier species such as green ash (Fraxinus Pennsylvanica, "white ash", Black Ash (Fraxinus Nigra),
which are more common in the center and in the north of the USA.
All the above are actually names which are given to the same tree to distinguish the very different characteristics
(weight, colour, density) that the tree develops by growing in different areas and environmental conditions.
Ash is used in both light "swamp" and heavier versions in guitar making especially for body construction.
To learn more on the differences between swamp light ash and hard ash please read here:
Ash wood colour is very clear sometimes fading to yellow and other times, on european species, also to a light pink.
Swamp ash guitar wood is the one Leo Fender chose to build his first guitars in the 50's, replacing it later with alder due to cost reasons.
It's a pretty expensive wood indeed and even if it is very similar to hard ash in appearance, it's tone is more articulated and rich especially on low frequencies with a good relationship between warmth and presence.
Hard ash guitar wood tone offers more treble and less warmth and it also delivers a good sustain.
Ash wood's open pores makes it difficult to work with and requires filler to be finished properly, while it's beautiful looking grain and very clear colour, makes it ideal for wonderful transparent finishes.