Guitar Lessons:  Types of Acoustic Guitars – Tonewood – Part I

Acoustic guitars are really versatile instruments that come in a large number of different models. There are variations in shape, neck size, finish and wood. They are all important factors in how comfortable you get with your guitar and how suitable a specific guitar is to you. When you start your acoustic guitar lessons, keep in mind that each model is suitable to someone or the other, so you have to be specific what kind of guitar you are seeking. This specification should focus on the physical comfort of holding the guitar, the sound it gives and its suitability for the genre of music you want to excel in.

We have already seen what body styles are available and how they are different from each other here: In this article, we will discuss the different wood materials from which the guitar is built. Each wood will give different sounds and will appeal to different people. It is believed that the wood chosen for the top is a large factor in determining what the sound of the guitar will be like.


A lightweight wood which gives out a clear and full tone, it is a commonly used wood for the body of the guitar. This is the wood used to make Fender Stratocasters. The wood is medium weight and appearance is light tan, which makes it suitable for a solid finish. The wood provides a decent sustain.


Ash guitars are of two types: the harder Northern type and the softer Southern type. The southern type is more suitable for guitars as it has a balanced, bright and warm sound. This wood looks lovely with a translucent finish. It is generally used for single-wood guitars.


Basswood is a great choice for budget guitars. In spite of the low cost, it is a good light and soft wood with a fat, soft and balanced tone. The colour is light and has minimum grain, providing for a good finish.


Bubinga is an excellent wood for guitars, being hard, stiff, strong and dense. It is generally used for necks and fingerboards, which require the kind of durability the wood provides. The tone of the wood is thick and it provides good sustain. The colour is dark with distinctive grain patterns, and quite appealing.


A wonderful and popular wood, cedar provides a warm and bright sound that is favoured by fingerstyle players. The wood responds quickly to the player, making this an ideal choice for classical or flamenco guitars. This wood is also used for sides and backs. It provides a distinct reddish finish which is quite attractive.


Another hard and strong wood, ebony provides a strong sustain and snappy high tones. It has quick response, making it a good choice for fingerstyle players. It is also very durable and wears well without giving in to the pressure of the finger and string. It is also great to be used a fretboard material.

What wood you choose can ultimately affect your comfort level and sound of your guitar. Hence, this is a decision to be made very carefully after considering your requirements and preferences. You would not want to be stuck with an expensive and nice guitar with which you feel uncomfortable. So before taking your basic guitar lessons and purchasing your first guitar, explore research and understand before buying.

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