Woods

Non-tropical wood species used for the LGR-Project guitars:
         Backs and sides:      
Beech, Birch, Ash, Chestnut, Plane, Alder, Cherry, French Walnut, Poplar, Black Locust (robinia pseudoacacia)
Rowan(sorbus aucuparia), Boxwood, Oak, 
Fingerboards and bridges:
Yew (taxus baccata), Service Tree (sorbus domestica, other English names include Sorb Tree and Whitty Pear) , Plum (prunus domestica)
Boxwood (buxus sempervirens), Black Locust (robinia pseudoacacia), Lilac (syringa vulgaris)Golden chain (laburnum)





WOODS COMMONLY USED IN GUITAR* MAKING (*acoustic steel string and nylon string guitars)

   SOFTWOODS (*NL)

Spruces and Cedars are often used in the tops of instruments because of its high stiffness-to-weight ratio.
Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis, also known as Alaskan spruce), Adirondack spruce (or red spruce, Picea rubens ), Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) and European spruce (Picea abies, also known as Norwegian, German or Alpine spruce) are particularly valued.
Cedars, particularly Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata, not a true cedar), have since the 1950s been used in the tops of classical and steel-string guitars. Other softwoods, such as Redwood, Pine, and Fir, have been used less frequently.

   HARDWOODS (*NL)

Species that grow in Tropical areas:
Mahogany may be used in the tops of some guitars as well as the back, sides, and necks of instruments of the  guitar families. Mahogany may also be used for the solid bodies of electric guitars. Rosewoods are often used in the back and/or sides of guitars. The most sought-after variety, Brazilian Rosewood, Dalbergia nigra, has become scarce and expensive due to over-exploitation and now this species is illegal to import, export, buy, sell. Ebony is often used for fingerboards, tailpieces, bridges and so forth, but rarely as a true tonewood. 
More hardwoods: Indian Rosewood dalbergia latifolia, Cocobolo dalbergia retusa, African Utile Mahogany entandrophragma utileBrazilian Mahogany swietenia macrphyllia, African Mahogany khaya ivorensis, Koa acacia koa, Ovangkol guibourtia ehei, Black Limba terminalia superba, Blackhearted Sassafras atherosperma moschatum, Imbuya (aka Imbuia) phoebe parosa, African Satinwood distemonanthus tenthamianus, Cedrela cedrela odorata.

Species that grow in Tropical, Subtropical and Non-tropical areas:
Tasmanian Blackwood acacia melanoxylon. 

Species that grow in non-tropical areas
Maple acer pseudoplatanus and Walnutjuglans nigra (Black)/regia (French) and other fruitwoods like cherry, plum, pear, etc. are used over ages for backs and sides of the guitar family and for instrument making in general.
Basswood (also known as lime or linden), Ash and Elder are often used in solid body guitars.
Possible alternative species for acoustic instrument making: 
Beech, Birch, Ash, Chestnut, Plane, Alder, Poplar, Black Locust, Sorbus Boxwood, Oak, Yew, Laburnum....


(*NL)  Note in Dutch / Nota in het Nederlands
        De Engelse termen Hardwood (NL = Loofhout) en Softwood (NL = Naaldhout) worden soms foutief vertaald als hardhout en zachthout. Dit zorgt
        voor  verwarring. 'Hardwoods' kunnen immers zachter zijn dan 'softwoods'. Taxus (softwood) is bv. harder dan loofhoutceder, els, linden, 
        populier... allemaal 'hardwoods'.
       

Comments from luthiers:

Michel Donadey,  France

"I have used lime wood (Linden / Tilleul ) for the neck and it is very excellent for classical … light and stable. 
I have made 5 guitars with lime for the neck / see this linkLime  is very  beautiful, but take care : it is dirtying … the ebony dust from a fine sanding goes into the wood and you can't do nothing ! you must protect....
And I have a very old "citronnier"  ( lemon tree )  from  my  country ( Côte d'Azur, France), better and harder  than the tropical one. I plan to make this year a classical guitar with it ..."  /


List of Restricted and Endangered Wood Species > see list on this page

Links about (alternative) woods:
Salvaged Wood
Tonewood for musical instruments in crisis

The future of tonewoods

Guitarbench's database of tonewood species
Rivolta's list of tonewood species
Alan Arnold Tonewood guide
The Heretics Guide to Tonewoods
Tonewood preparation and grading



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