Tonewoods: Ukulele, Electric and Acoustic Guitar

Wood is generally known as a material used to build houses, furniture, cabinets, and carved figures. Aside from being a valuable material in the woodworking and furniture industry, it is also being utilized for the construction of various musical instruments such as ukuleles, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, violins, drums and many more. However, keep in mind that not all woods are suitable to be tonewoods. The type of wood a luthier will use to build a guitar is of great importance as the wood will primarily contribute to the over-all sound of a guitar. The term "tonewood" refers to any kind of wood specie that possess superb tonal properties. Each tonewood has its own unique musical qualities, some can produce a bell-like chime or a glass-like ring when struck and vibrated. Instruments are commonly made from different combination of tonewoods to achieve a particular sound, whereas other luthiers prefers to build instruments with only one tonewood of choice. The guitar or ukulele parts will depend on what kind of sound a builder is trying to produce. Usually each tonewood piece is selected because of specific acoustic and physical properties, not to mention the additional visual aesthetics it can offer. Tonewoods are categorized by softwood and hardwood. Guitar builders favored softwood for the soundboard or guitar top because of its high vibrational tendencies. On the other hand, hardwood is preferred for the guitar body because of its high density which will result to a more durable body compared to softwood.

The Different Instrument Woods Explained

Hawaiian Koa

Koa turned out to be a fairly decent tonewood with its own unique warm tones. The tonal properties are different than mahogany or rosewood or maple but built to the right specification. Hawaiian Koa resonates differently than medium-bodied and lighter woods because of its density, making this tonewood one of the best in the musical instrument market.

Hawaiian Mango

The tonal qualities of Mango wood may resemble Koa a bit because they both produce warm sounds and good bright tones. Mango wood gives off a perfectly balanced tone with deep resonating bass, exceptional good mid-range, and long-lasting sustain.

Cuban Mahogany

As a premium tonewood, Cuban Mahogany exhibits a perfect balanced tone. When a Cuban Mahogany guitar is struck and vibrated, it produced warm and mellow tone, with pronounced lower-mids, appealing high-ends, and superb sustain.

Monkey Pod

The tonal characteristics of Monkey Pod has been said to fall between Mahogany and Walnut or Koa and Mahogany, thus it is considered as a good tonewood of choice when building acoustic guitars.