For years acoustic guitar makers and violin makers have given very little, or almost no importance, to the role wood plays in electric guitar tone. Only very recently have some of the main electric guitar makers and luthiers discovered that the wood a guitar is made from, and especially the neck's one, plays a crucial role in the electric instrument's tone.

Experiments with many different kinds of materials have been made in guitar construction lately, but wood is still by far the most preferred and widely used and the only one that allows, thanks to the many different wood species and their respective resonance us to "tailor" the tone to our needs and tastes.

Wood influence in tone image
The way wood blanks are cut from the tree has an influence
on the instrument's tonal response.

Each electric guitar and bass has its own resonance, which has an influence on the amplified sound to the point that it's possible to forecast how an instrument will play by simply playing it with no amplification.

To understand how, please hang the instrument on a wall and pluck the B string on the guitar, or the G string on a bass, then hold the bottom of the body with your hand and feel how it vibrates. The more the vibration and sustain the more the instrument will play loud once amplified.

Carl Verheyen legendary guitarist
Legendary guitarist Carl Verheyen shows how he judges the vibration
quality of a guitar.

The most used woods in guitar construction are: maple, ash, alder, basswood, ebony, mahogany and rosewood.

Many cheaper (and not so cheap) recent guitars are built using softer and cheaper woods like birch and poplar. Unfortunately these cheaper woods offer less stiffness and are less dense. This results in a weaker tone and structural problems, such as tremolo pivot point screw holes giving way under string's tension causing the tremolo baseplate to contact the pickguard, thus causing the tremolo not to move properly (we suggest to check into this part of the guitar before purchase).

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© 2018 Galeazzo Frudua. All rights reserved

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