Warning: Missing argument 2 for wpdb::prepare(), called in /home/kuwaitmusic/kuwait_music.com_BACKUP/wp-content/themes/gonzo/includes/widget_areas.php on line 154 and defined in /home/kuwaitmusic/kuwait_music.com_BACKUP/wp-includes/wp-db.php on line 992
How different woods affect guitar tones - Kuwait Music

How different woods affect guitar tones

Cool Catches woods

Published on May 26th, 2013 | by Caesar (ENGAGE)


I spotted this lovely article on www.seymourduncan.com and just had to share it.


The Standards


Alder is a tree that grows in medium, temperate climates with a lot of moisture. This fast growing wood produces relatively soft timber with long grains. It’s not as soft as mahogany or as hard as maple, which culminates to a tone without a major boost in the tonal spectrum. Generally, the highs are slightly attenuated with lows that aren’t that pronounced and a midrange that might use an extra kick because the mids aren’t that abundantly available.



Ash can come from various sources. You have hard ash, which has a lot of bite, almost like maple, but with more (and chunkier) lows. Hard ash is generally speaking on the heavier side. Swamp ash, on the other hand, is much lighter, with less compression in the tone. You will get an opener sound with lots of highs and upper mids that cut through the mix like a hot knife through butter. The difference between a billet cut from the top or the bottom of the tree makes a huge difference in tone. A high-cut piece of hard ash might be closer to the sound you’re looking for than a lower cut of swamp ash. This goes for all woods, but in my experience this is even stronger the case with ash than other types.



Basswood is a wood that’s being used predominantly on cheaper or ‘metal’ guitars. This is because the tree grows rather fast, the grain doesn’t look particularly interesting or pretty (and therefor not considered to be a shame if finished in an opaque color; the extreme softness of the wood makes a hard finish a necessity, too) but more importantly, because the tone is bland, it doesn’t have the growl of mahogany, it doesn’t have the tightness or bite of maple, it doesn’t have the sweetness of alder or the chunky quality of ash. Instead, it has all of that, although to a lesser degree. It has some bite, some growl, some sweetness, but not much. That makes it a perfect template for your own sound. It doesn’t add anything to your tone but it doesn’t take away anything.






Tags: ,

About the Author

Caesar is the Founder and CEO of Kuwait Music. A passionate musician and web nerd, Caesar spends most of his time thinking about how to build a healthy music business in the region Follow Caesar at the below links: Google+

3 Responses to How different woods affect guitar tones

  1. Ali Sleeq says:

    The problem is, 99.99% of the audience will not ever hear the difference. I heard many comparative audio of the tone woods and it barely has any real differecnce.

    • yousefq8 says:

      Check out some Guthrie Govan to hear the differences in tone woods. Especially his tone with his Suhr solid mahogany guitars and with his new Charvel that’s made of basswood and has a maple top. One of the reasons you can hear the difference in tone so distinctively with Guthrie Govan is because his setup is extremely simple compared to other guitarists. Cranked channel on an amp, few lightly used pedals, and guitar. That’s it. The more additions between the guitar and amp, the less the tone of the guitar body and neck comes through.

      Mahoagny Suhr: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CFQbq3wvPw
      Charvel basswood with maple top: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoSutd34xPk

    • Q80 says:

      True- although if you really do sit with an expert and listen to subtle differences , they6 can be heard. But then again, thats not what audiences care about lol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Back to Top ↑
  • Its all happening

    RSS Error: This XML document is invalid, likely due to invalid characters. XML error: Invalid document end at line 2, column 1

  • Subscribe and never miss an event!

    Subscribe for events, reviews, concerts and more straight to your inbox!