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Top Wood Used on Guitars

Adirondack Spruce (Picea Rubens)

This was the choice wood used on pre-war martins. Because it was logged so heavily the use of it was slowed drastically. Also known as Red spruce this wood offers a wonderful tone. It has lots of headroom to strum the guitar aggressively without distorting. It also has a high Overtone content. For strumming and flatpicking you can’t beat Red Spruce.

Sitka Spruce (Picea Sitchensis)

Standard on most production guitars now, and for good reason. This topwood offers a punchy direct sound although it tends to have low overtone content. Many bluegrass players prefer Sitka Spruce for this reason.

Englemann Spruce (Picea Englemannii)

This light colored wood is one of the primary choices for fingerpicking guitars. With is High overtone content and strong fundamental tone Englemann Spruce delivers a warm mellow tone that is well suited for light strumming and fingerpicking.

European Spruce (Picea Excelsa)

Although the quality of European Spruce is steadily declining it is considered by many to be the premier tonewood. It yields a rich tone with a strong fundamental and good overtone. It does, however, take a few years to open up to it’s full potential.

Western Red Cedar (Thuja Plicata)

Western Red Cedar is primarily used on classical guitars. Although lately it has become more popular for steel string guitars. It has a lush dark color and a Warm tone. With a dark mellow tone is tends to be a great choice for fingerpicking and Celtic style guitars. Another benefit is that is sounds “open” almost immediately.

Western Red Cedar (Thuja Plicata)

Western Red Cedar is primarily used on classical guitars. Although lately it has become more popular for steel string guitars. It has a lush dark color and a Warm tone. With a dark mellow tone is tends to be a great choice for fingerpicking and Celtic style guitars. Another benefit is that is sounds “open” almost immediately.

Redwood (Sequoia Sempervirons)

Slightly darker and more red in color than Western Red Cedar. Redwood lends a very similar sound when compared to Cedar. It does, however, have slightly more punch and ability to handle harder strumming than Cedar.

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Responses

  1. I have a classical guitar with a European spruce top with Black and White ebony back & sides. It is only around a year old now, but I’m still in awe with how deep the guitar sounds! If I had better self-control, I’d keep it in the case to stay nice (It’s a limited run guitar) but I can’t ever help but to pick it back up from time to time!

    1. I know what you mean! Out of sight out of mind equates to, never gets played. I have friends that hang all their guitars and others, like me that play them but also want to retain the newness of the select hardwoods each giving off its own distinct smell. But guitars need to be played, the tops need to be opened up (especially spruce tops) for their full potential and tone to be realized. I bring mine guitars out on a stand for a day or two, mindful of humidity levels and then always return them to a case with internal humidity regulators in the sound hole and under the headstock. Enjoy your guitar…post a picture, would love to see it.

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