A guitar’s top wood works in concert with the strings and body to generate tone. Because the main purpose of the top wood is to create tone it can dramatically change the voice of the instrument.
Sitka Spruce is the -standard- for guitar top woods. It has a wide dynamic range suitable for aggressive strumming and flatpicking to fingerstyle playing. Sitka Spruce is a favorite of many guitar builders for an all-around great sounding guitar.
Adirondack Spruce or Red Spruce is even more dynamic than Sitka Spruce. It has more headroom than other top woods allowing the player to play harder without losing clarity or overdriving the top.
Adirondack Spruce has more overtones and a thicker, fuller voice compared to Sitka Spruce. Quantities are limited so it is more expensive.
Engelmann Spruce is a North American Spruce similar to European or German Spruce. It has a creamier complexion than Sitka Spruce. Sonically it has a mature tone and is slightly richer and more complex than Sitka Spruce. It doesn’t have as much headroom as Adirondack or Sitka Spruce and is best suited for light strumming and fingerstyle playing. It has a mature tone which makes the guitar sound older.
Western Red Cedar is less dense and warmer sounding than Spruce tops. It rounds off the high end and is best suited for fingerstyle or players with a lighter touch. It responds well to a lighter touch but has its volume limits when played aggressively. Redwood tops are similar to Cedar but stiffer and have more bass and headroom.
Mahogany tops won’t yield as quick a response as a Spruce top. Mahogany has a more controlled, punchy and focused midrange. It has a drier, woodier tone compared to other top woods. Mahogany tops are usually matched with Mahogany back and sides.
Hardwood tops are paired with the same back and side woods. Hawaiian Koa and Walnut are good examples. They tend to have a similar tonal range as Sitka but will generally be brighter. A hardwood-topped guitar needs to be played before it starts to sound full and rich.
Visit Madison Music And Try These Different Guitar Woods For Yourself
Of course, these are merely words and descriptions. The real proof is in the playing. Why not come over to Madison Music today to see our selection of acoustic guitars for sale? You can also browse our online catalog to find out more about us and the instruments we have available.
We could talk for hours about the different sounds that different woods create. But we are happier to chat with our customers in store, so please do visit us if you need more advice or information.If we can be of assistance right away, please use our Click to Call feature or you can call us at (800) 278-9080.
Madison Music has premier acoustic instruments including guitars, mandolins, banjos and resonators. Visit us for more details.