When it comes to back and sides of the guitar, we start seeing somewhat different tonewood being the standard.

Acoustic vs Bass Guitar: Which is better for Beginners? I am hoping for sound quality similar to Taylor guitars. Tapping a piece of wood reveals, not only the velocity of sound, Claro walnut can have a striking figuring that lends eye candy to a fine guitar. There was a time when guitars sported a limited range of tonewoods, when steel-string players paid little mind to their distinctions, other than financial considerations. Due to the age of these logs, all this material would have been old-growth timber. Wenge, a dense, dark-colored African hardwood unrelated to the rosewoods, has tonal properties remarkably similar to those of Brazilian rosewood. The company also is planting its own maple forests, as well as stands of koa on the Hawaiian islands. All of the Sitka spruce used in soundboards by Bedell Guitars, for instance, comes from trees that have fallen or are dead in Alaskan forests. As supplies of classic tonewoods like spruce, rosewood, and mahogany are being threatened, luthiers and guitar companies look to sustainable alternatives such as salvaged woods. “In general terms, the top seems to affect the guitar’s responsiveness, the quickness of its attack, its sustain, some of its overtone coloration, and the strength and quality of each note’s fundamental tone,” Bourgeois notes. It has a relatively high velocity of sound, and the highest strength to weight ratio than any other wood. Examples: Rainsong Black Ice Series; Kevin Michael Touring Carbon Fiber; Martin 000X1AE; Blackbird El Capitan. It's lightweight yet strong, so it can easily transfer the energy from each plucked or picked string into beautifully rich sound. What makes Brazilian rosewood so appealing is its great beauty—its deep, variegated coloring and its spider-web figuring. It’s not as widespread, but you see it often enough across different categories of acoustic guitars. As for harvesting tonewoods sustainably, Taylor Guitars has taken important steps in this direction. Let’s get to it Though it’s used more commonly for the soundboards of classical guitars, red cedar, growing in western North America, can make a great steel-string soundboard. Velocity of Sound The speed at which a material transmits received energy. This entire guitar is made of Sapele, which gives it a rather interesting tone. This presents an interesting conundrum for the acoustic guitarist—what are the perfect woods for your sound? However, where it really comes to life is the mid range. Spruce is the most common tonewood for the steel-string soundboard (there are a half dozen species in the Northern Hemisphere). Today we are going to talk about different types of tonewood and how they impact the sound of your acoustic guitar. It looks something like genuine mahogany, but sapele has a higher density and often produces a … Sustain  Natural reverberation that results in a lasting, ringing tone. So any attempt to sort out distinctions between tonewoods can only be offered from a relatively subjective point of view.”. A guitarist flush with cash might opt for an instrument with a spruce top and rosewood back and sides, while one with lesser means would go for plain mahogany back and sides, and a player with even less cash, or a beginner, might choose an unadorned all-mahogany instrument. While spruce and Sapele are usually the wood of choice for steel string acoustic guitars, cedar is more often found in classical models. But over-harvesting of this wood led to its being all but phased out for use in guitars in the years after the war. You would rarely find a Maple top guitar because it is known as being more optimal for sides and back and softer woods are more often used as soundboard or top tone woods. Bearclaw Siika spruce has a shallow, cross-grain curl that seems to increase cross-grain stiffness in acoustic guitars. Slabs of tonewood from an ancient mahogany trunk known iconically as The Tree are among the most coveted tonewoods—even Slash of Guns N’ Roses had a custom acoustic built from The Tree (read about it in the March 2016 issue of AG). But as the steel-string guitar has evolved, luthiers and players alike have become more attuned to the sonic characteristics inherent to different tonewoods. Some of the material is even figured. Back to top Sapele. “Differences between woods can be as mysterious and complex as differences between people,” Maine luthier and AG contributor Dana Bourgeois has written in this magazine. Historically, walnut hasn’t seen widespread use among guitar makers, but there are notable exceptions, like certain Epiphone archtops from the 1930s. Free shipping. The Things that Are the Same. Fundamental vs. Overtones  To my ear, sapele is drier and crisper sounding. But more important are its brilliant overtones, deep resonance, and impressive sustain, its penetrating basses and crystalline trebles. This African relative of rosewood shares many of its tonal properties, and it is sometimes known as African rosewood. The ones we did mention are what you will most commonly see on the market. In no small part due to its use in classic Martin guitars, Brazilian rosewood has long been considered the Holy Grail. This wood tends to have a honeyed color and is known for its sonically analogous dark and lush tone, and also for being generally less bass-y and projective than spruce. “I wouldn’t typically recommend maple as soundboard tonewood,” says Andy Powers, Taylor Guitars’ master luthier. Small in stature, the D Jr. 2 Sapele is big in voice. I think it sounds "pretty" or even sweet, but I also use sweet to describe what I hear in guitars topped with mahogany rather than spruce and what I hear in sapele is a different sound than that. But if you were after a more bluesy vibe'd instrument, the bright spruce top wasn't ideal, and you may have looked elsewhere in what is a rapidly growing and competitive market. Not all builders find maple to be a suitable top material, though. The Phenomenal Martin Sound of D-10e The supplier hails Lutz spruce for its “hybrid vigor.”. $169.99. A finely made plywood guitar, for instance, will likely sound superior and be more resonant than a poorly built rosewood guitar—just as the finest guitar made from premium Adirondack spruce and Brazilian rosewood will only sound as good as the guitarist playing it. The Dreadnought Junior is designed for players looking for big Dreadnought sound in a slightly smaller body. Examples: Taylor 914; Breedlove Pursuit; Martin GPCPA5. The Music Zoo is always impressed by the quality Martin Guitars brings to the table, and the Martin D-10E is no exception. In response to this unfortunate, but predictable, situation, but partly out of pure experimentation, builders also have sought alternative tonewoods, or, in some instances, they’ve used such synthetics as carbon fiber. Chosen for its straight, uniform grain, longevity and tensile strength. Acoustic Guitars - This tonewood works best with a light touch and lighter strings. From the October 2016 issue of Acoustic Guitar | BY ADAM PERLMUTTER, Fundamental vs. Overtones  A fundamental tone is the initial sound heard when you pick or pluck a note (and which decays at varying rates depending on the sustain); the overtones are complex harmonic layers that can make the note swell after the fundamental is initiated. More than just the species of wood will have a big influence on how a guitar sounds. “In my estimation koa splits the difference nicely between rosewood and mahogany,” Boak says. Especially if you are looking for the best performance and tone. Sapele is a fast growing and highly sustainable African wood which is protected from over harvesting making it a fabulous choice for the environmentally aware. “This is material from the bottom of Belizean rivers. Tradition casts such a strong spell in the guitar world, especially among high-end instruments, that it is difficult for a “new wood” to gain any sort of status recognition. When we bought our spruce top D Jr there were two in the store at the time and the difference in sound was clear and distinguishable. 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