I am often asked about the sound or tone characteristics of the different tone woods I work with and supply here is a good explanation of them to help you pick to correct tone-wood for you.


It’s a medium-weight wood, although quality cuts of alder used for guitar bodies will often weigh less than denser cuts of ash. Alder has a strong, clear, full-bodied sound, with beefy mids and excellent lows. It offers a decent amount of sustain.

alder tone wood information

Swamp Ash.

The wood taken from the lower portions of southern-grown wetland trees that have root systems growing below water level. Swamp ash is both light and resonant, and generally carries a broad grain that looks great under a translucent finish.

The swamp-ash sound is twangy, airy, and sweet. It offers firm lows, pleasant highs, a slightly scooped midrange, and good sustain.

swamp ash tone wood

American hard Ash.

Also known as baseball Ash from the upper portions of the tree .This tends to be denser and heavier, and have a brighter, harder sound that might be more useful when cutting, distorted tones are desired.

american hard ash information


Korina is a warm, resonant, and balanced performer. It also yields great clarity, definition, and sustain. The species is known generically as limba—an African wood related to mahogany, but imported under the trade name Korina. It’s a fairly light hardwood with a fine grain.

korina tone wood information

Sapele Mahogany.

Sapele mahogany is a fairly dense, medium-to-heavy wood . Its characteristic tone is warm and somewhat soft, but well balanced with good grind and bite. There is usually good depth to the sound, with full but not especially tight lows, and appealing highs.

saple tone wood


Poplar well-balanced sonically, poplar bodies are close to alder in tone and players such as steve morse with his musician blue guitar and James burton with his custom Fender telecaster use this timber.

poplar tone wood

Maple guitar tops.

Adding a solid maple top to a solid mahogany back yields a guitar body that exhibits many of the best tonal properties of both woods. The solid maple/mahogany body is characteristically rich, warm, and resonant. You get mahogany’s smooth, appealing lows with good sustain, as well as the extra clarity, definition, and bite added by the dense maple cap.



Dense and fairly heavy, similar to those of Sapele. It tends to be warm and full, but usually with a firmer low end, and more overall tightness.

walnut tone wood information



A one-piece, solid maple neck contributes tightness and cut to a guitar, with good highs, and firm lows.It is a characteristically bright neck-wood choice. Mids tend to have a snappy attack, with a punchy edge when the strings are hit hard, but excellent clarity with light to medium picking.



A rosewood fretboard, and a maple neck’s tonal character becomes a little warmer and sweeter, with more sparkle in the highs and thicker lows. Also, the mids tend to have a little more openness.

maple rosewood tone wood


Mahogany has a warm, mellow tone with good presence in the lower mids. The mahogany/rosewood pairing contributes to complex highs, thick and warm lows, and an appealing midrange that isn’t excessively punchy.

rosewood tone wood information