Woods used in making guitars: Which is best?

I know not much about guitars when it comes to materials and which is best. A friend told me Rosewood is really good for the neck/fretboard where as Mahogany is good for the actual body. Whats your opinion? And what makes each type of wood different?

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TJH, the best idea you'll get is by going to warmoth.com and clicking around until you come to their woods page. There is nothing on that page I would violently disagree with.

Briefly, some woods are suitable for bodies but keep away from the neck, some are great for necks, lousy for bodies, useless for fingerboards etc etc on all possible combinations. The things to consider are weight, ease of (or need for) coating with a finish, stability and, finally, tone. From bright to warm, it goes like this:

Maple, ebony, ash, alder/poplar/basswood, rosewood, mahogany, wenge.

The only wood that you could realistically make a guitar out of for body, neck and fingerboard is North American hard maple. That'd be one right twangy burger, though. I've missed out a ton of other exotics but Warmoth has all the blurb.

how do you define bright to warm tones? What is considered bright and warm?

Now that's a good Q :wink: . I guess one could define "bright" as being high on initial attack (the pick really rings the note out), a relatively quick decay (the note volume drops fairly soon after picking) and a tendency to emphasize the treble over the bass. "Warm" is the opposite; a tendency to damp the initial pick and hold the note with a slow decay, and favouring the bass over the treble. Of course, the electronics and settings have their say but, all things being equal, that would be the effect of the wood choices.

Going from one extreme to the other...
Suppose you built one guitar with a maple body, maple bolt on neck with maple fingerboard. Then you fitted Telecaster single coils and selected the bridge pickup. You'll definitely get more of a twang than the other guy with a mahogany body, set or thru mahogany neck and a rosewood fingerboard, playing the neck humbucker. Even if the p'ups were kept the same, the maple guitar would be brighter than the mahogany one.

i had a look at that warmoth.com site, and i have to say its pretty impressive. but as for actually ordering custom guitars with all those specifications, i did not see anything on having the guitars prebuilt.

They don't build for you, TJH. What they do well (and for not to much money considering) is take a piece of wood and stick it in their CNC routers that are all set up to do the jobs Warmoth have programmed into them. They don't stray much from that, although they've covered most things.

Really, you have to have an idea of what you want, where. Putting it together is not much more difficult than an Ikea job, and I'd go to a trusted local tech for the final dressing and setup.

seeing as how I'm lazy, are there any sites or companies that would build a guitar for me, if I had the parts?

Also, warmoth.com is an amazing site, do you know of any more like it?

Talking of woods, is it true that Brazilian mahogany is internationaly banned? i recently did some work for a UK wood importers and a guy there said that you can still trade in it but it must be 'old stock' which has all but evaporated, thats why most stuff you see these days is Indian mahogany, if this is the case where does PRS get his seemingly inexhaustable supply from? and is the Brazilian mahogany better than the Indian??

Lee, I don't think a Rizla can be folded in Brazil now without someone crying 'foul!' Still, I'm wondering if you mean Brazilian Rosewood. This is the stuff for a fingerboard (if you don't want the brightness of maple and ebony). Apart from the warmth and natural compression, it looks absolutely beautiful.

Almost all newer rosewood fingerboards are Indian Rosewood. It looks like cack, has none of the nice figuring, and (IMHO and limited exp) sounds and feels like dung. Amongst other things, it's what make those Indonesian etc Squiers (+ Aria to the end of the dictionary) so ho-hum. Indian rosewood is a real "sounds/feels like chicken" wood (just like alder/poplar/basswood bodies).

Apart from the originals, I believe the Fuji-Gen Gakki instruments and Jap Fender/Squiers used Braz. My Mustang bass neck is definitely Indian rosewood free, and I even have a 1990 Fenix (Young Chang in Korea's first year) with the tell-tale figuring and almost no visible pores. Later Indian f/bs have pores that can be seen from the International Space Station and (rub salt in wound) a figure about as interesting as a naked Joan Rivers.

I used to hate rosewood f/boards, but now I see it's a case of gets what yer pays for. I now just dislike Indian roseboards.

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