You’ll likely notice the difference when used as a top wood – but not so much for the back and sides. Sapele would then be a 2 or 3. Here’s a selection of some of the most common options and their characteristics: Rosewood has arguably been the most common fretboard wood for quite some time, although it took a dip under CITES restrictions – but will no doubt grow in popularity once again. Maple is known for its dense brightness and definition. These changes were implemented by CITES (short for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) to protect species from drastic reduction in numbers, and it meant that any guitar using these woods required CITES certification to be traded across borders – naturally, building guitars became a lengthier process and increased prices. What it lacks in dramatic visual appeal and breathless testimonial from wood-sniffers, it more than makes up for in suitability for instrument construction. Our Timber Durability Chart & Database has all of the information you're looking for! Indian rosewood is far more widespread, but the CITES restrictions mean that it’s quite rare to see Brazilian rosewood in use on a production guitars nowadays – if you’ve got one, count yourself lucky! To see our post on how to best oil your walnut … I recently got a Martin Backpacker 25th edition. I, too, have only recently become aware of this wood. Laminated wood is often quicker to warp or mark due to its compound nature. Can you notice the difference? East Indian Rosewood (often referred to as EIR) is easier to produce and therefore considerably cheaper. It also has to look great, right? In some cases (particularly for guitar tops), the solid piece of wood is divided into two and mirrored – you’ll often notice a distinct divide in the middle of a guitar top when this is the case. Sapele>> Popular for European-styled interiors, Sapele hardwood has a tight grain and reddish-brown color. Cedar tends to produce slightly richer overtones, and this results in a tone with less sparkle but more character. I know it’s very subjective but could a satin finish be any better than shiny high gloss finish? The two species exist on different ends of the density scale. Summary: bright, immediate tone with excellent projection. Caramel colour with contrasting patterned grain. Summary: bright, sparkly tone with slightly boosted low and mid frequencies compared to koa. Now apply this to the gaps between the grains in different types of wood: if wood is dense, there will be less space among the grain for the sound to move around in, so you can expect quick attack and bright clarity. The wood choices for the body, neck and fretboard form upwards of 90% of the construction of an acoustic guitar, and if you take electronics and hardware out of the equation, they’re almost entirely responsible for the way an acoustic guitar sounds! This article was very helpful in making my decision ! This is an appealing trait to many players who tend to refer to it as playing ‘fast’ because of its naturally smooth, solid feel. most notably rosewood , was lifted on 14/12/19. The wood used to form the back and sides of an acoustic guitar sound chamber does a lot more than simply look good and create an enclosure. Your article is really well done, and answers everything a musician would be looking for when they come across your page. Koa can sound very bright right out of the box and need a good amount of ‘playing in’ before the tone reaches its sweet spot. As mentioned earlier, there are two types most commonly used: Indian and Brazilian. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular choices for acoustic guitar tops: If there is such a thing as an industry standard top tone wood, then Spruce would have to tick that box. The Janka scale is used to determine the relative hardness of particular domestic or exotic wood species. That makes it a highly versatile wood for an acoustic guitar, ideal for a number of styles. Looking for more tonewood info? Nowadays, acoustic guitar manufacturers use a wealth of different wood types, with exotic and alternative woods being used more commonly to avoid hefty fees and maintain consistent output; so without further ado, let’s delve deep into the world of acoustic guitar tonewoods! It’s important to note that although the quality of the figuring in the wood can have a bearing on the price tag, it will not have any impact on the tone of the wood. 2,192 3. I hope this post has helped you to learn the difference in Mahogany and Sapele. Most guitarists would have heard of Mahogany and it is a very popular back and sides wood and wood for necks. Well done article. Everything you need to know about the acoustic guitar tonewood options available on the market today! As the term may suggest, laminated wood is a number of thinner layers of wood that are stuck together with adhesives and pressure to form a sheet. This makes it a good choice for live performance because the clarity of tone cuts through the mix well, and feedback is less likely to be problematic. It’s harder than both Honduran and African Mahogany. Both Mahogany and Sapele have warm, mid-range-heavy tonal characteristics with subtle overtones. In my opinion both are great tonewoods anyway and if you like the tone of your 000-15, that’s the main thing! So, in the battle of Sapele vs Mahogany, which is the better tonewood? Different manufacturers tend to favour different wood choices, but in recent years the industry has seen a shift in trends. The combinations of woods therefore need to be considered carefully when they are paired up, and it is for this reason that acoustic guitars frequently feature different woods on the back and sides than they do on the top. Little by little I’m building some experience. It has high natural oil content, meaning that it can be left unfinished. Your site is third on that list. In time, the brightness mellows, resulting in a warm rounded sparkle and rich low end. Honduran Mahogany is preferred as a top wood over African Mahogany. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Traditionally used on classical guitars, cedar is becoming increasingly common in steel-string instruments. Finding and Buying a Door. Thanks for your comments. For this reason, as with rosewood, it makes a great choice as a fretboard, although it isn’t as common. Thank you! Walnut. It should also be noted that Sapele on one guitar (with different materials and construction) will sound different to Sapele … Sitka’s combination of strength and elasticity translates into a broad dynamic range, yielding crisp articulation and allowing for everythi… Mahogany’s sound can be described as “earthy” “strong” “beefy”. Sapele just smells better. In terms of tone, ebony provides a very responsive bright, snappy and crisp attack coupled with a smooth sustain. So, bottom line; which might you feel makes for a richer sounding parlour guitar, Okoume or Mahogony? The distinctive patterns created by the wood’s varied colors and graining make for an eye-catching door. With a rich dark reddish-brown colour, mahogany is very easy to spot. That said, it is becoming more and more widely used and it will likely be more known as time goes by. The fretboard is where you tend to get a broader variety, as this is one of the main parts that you’re in contact with when playing your instrument. Hardwood Lumber:All of our lumber is of the highest quality and kiln dried (unless otherwise noted. Sapele Tonewood goes is a great all-purpose tonewood that works for many different applications. Glad the article could help. A very well done article. Although Mahogany is more commonly found being employed as a back and sides wood, it is used as the soundboard on some models. 21 Guitar Playing Tips Every Beginner Should Know, Tips for Learning How to Play the Guitar and Sing at the Same Time, Acoustic Guitar Stands: Ways to Keep Your Guitar When Not Playing, Takamine Serial Numbers: What They Can Tell You and How to Decode Them. To give some perspective the following is the hardness of the woods discussed here including Rosewood. Sitka Spruce is used more than any other species for guitar soundboards. All else being equal, Sapele will be a lot like Mahogany, to be fair, but with some subtle differences. You simply use the thicker, more expensive piece of wood. I am not a musician; I am a 3D enthusiast. Love the education. Sapele: Janka Hardness 1,410 lbf (6,280 N) The hardest of the three options. Summary: rarely used as a top, but produces a warm tone with excellent midrange and bass emphasis, with a reddish-orange colour and an even grain pattern. It is also cost effective compared to some of the other high end wood used in guitars. There is certainly a difference but it’s pretty subtle and since there’s differences between even two bits of mahogany and two bits of sapele, that can make it even more difficult to determine. It’s closer to Rosewood than Mahogany is but it’s much more similar to Mahogany than it is to Rosewood. Thanks. The only real way to tell would be b ya visual inspection if you were familiar with the how the woods differed in looks. Its resonance could be described as dark and complex, with notably rich overtones and a metallic zing that’s difficult to replicate with other woods! It grows up to 30–60 feet (9.1–18.3 m) tall, has a single erect trunk, commonly without branches for 10–40 feet (3.0–12.2 m), and a crown that can be wider than the tree is tall. As we touched on earlier in this article, mahogany is a stiff, hard and dense tone wood that provides a distinctly wood and warm tone. your information on both Mahogany and Sapele tone woods was very helpful. Although spruce is the most commonly employed top wood, cedar comes in at second place. Odor: Sapele has a distinct, cedar-like scent while being worked. Walnut is a resilient wood similar to rosewood. It tends to lose clarity when it’s driven hard, so tends not to be favoured among those who generally play hard with a pick. One of the most common comparisons is that between laminated and solid wood. Glossary of Terms. There are actually a couple of different woods that are referred to as Mahogany, when talking about tonewoods for guitars. Peruvian walnut is slightly more dense than North American Walnuts, which may increase volume and/or projection. Better vibration means better sustain and better tone! My dad’s old Martin D18 was the guitar I grew up with so when I went looking for a new guitar, Taylor’s description of sapele in their 300 series, helped me decide on a 310. It has a relatively high velocity of sound, and the highest strength to weight ratio than any other wood. Privacy Policy. Summary: immediate, balanced tone with little complexity. That’s because they’re easy to work with and respond well to tension. How do I love thee, mahogany? Sapele is a hardwood tree native to central Africa and is obtained from sustainably managed forests. It’s been used to very good effect for decades, and there are two main varieties that have been employed throughout this time: East Indian rosewood, and it’s more elusive and expensive alternative, Brazilian rosewood. ... Walnut. For the most part, acoustic necks consist of either maple or mahogany. Walnut Cutting Boards. Reply. Required fields are marked *. It was interesting to find this information about the sound qualities as well as some other qualities discussed here. An African tone wood closely related to Mahogany, Sapele is similar in both look and sound. Another way to put it might be if you were to think of Mahogany as 1 on a scale of 10, and Rosewood was 10. Thanks for that! This is no surprise given that it’s quite a hard wood but is still easy to carve. It’s worth noting that Spruce does tend to tan over the years resulting in older Spruce top guitars taking on more of a yellow hue. Does it mean one is thicker and/or harder than the other? It is similar to Mahogany, and it’s fair to compare the two because Mahogany would be the closest to Sapele. Ponderosa Pine. I am purchasing an online guitar with Spruce top, Sapele back and sides. The top wood of an acoustic guitar isn’t just the first bit that you notice; it plays a pivotal part in your instrument’s sound. Acoustic vs Bass Guitar: Which is better for Beginners? Because wood is an organic material, it changes shape and density as it grows; with age, wood develops deeper grains that change almost immeasurably during its lifespan. Also like Mahogany, Sapele is a popular wood for guitar necks. When used as a back/side wood to compliment a brighter sounding top wood, Mahogany is good for mellowing out the brightness and adding some warmth and a stronger mid-range plus softening the highs and reducing the overtones. Sapele. Because of its rich heritage and place in guitar history, mahogany backs and sides can be heard on loads of old school recordings, and the inherent character of the tone lends itself well to blues and roots music to this day. The midrange is where it differs, however, with a healthy bark that puts it somewhere in between rosewood and mahogany. If the wood is less dense, the sound will have more space in the grain to move around in, so you can expect a darker resonance with increased sustain! Summary: warm tone with excellent midrange and bass emphasis, with a reddish-orange colour and an even grain pattern. Save my name and email in this browser for the next time I comment. In summary, it provides a punchier and darker tone than rosewood, with a prominent midrange. I am thinking of buying a Talor gs mini and did not know if sapele was a real wood or a man made product( I know that sounds dorky but I never heard of the word before). Whether you get Honduran Mahogany (probably more commonly referred to as Tropical Mahogany these days because it is sourced from a number of Central and South American countries now), or African Mahogany, the sound characteristics are going to be pretty close. Sapele has a slight blunting effect on cutters, but it turns, glues, and finishes well. Again, like with Mahogany, the sound that you can expect from a guitar with Sapele will greatly differ depending on other materials used, the builder, and whether or not it’s used as a top, back and sides or both. Great post and very helpful….Now if I could only find out if my 2007 Martin 000-15 was hog or Sapele…that would be great…lol. This is partially due to changes in regulation that restrict the circulation of certain rare woods, most notably affecting rosewood, granadillo and bubinga. BUY NOW (more info): Interested? Walnut is a popular alternative to koa; it’s often easier to source and work with, resulting in more common usage and a more affordable price tag. It’s just not heard of as much as Mahogany. But I’m glad you found the info helpful for your purposes. Light, golden colour with a rich variety of distinct grain types. Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Sapele has been reported as a skin and respiratory irritant. But this is only a subtle difference really. The top (also referred to as the soundboard) is one of the components that stands in between your strings and the bulk of the guitar’s body, so the wood used has to be carefully considered. Restrictions to many of these woods. very helpful. Summary: extremely bright tone that mellows over time, resulting in a well-rounded high and low emphasis. Sapele is definitely a real wood! It has become a perennial favourite and features on the comfortable majority of steel-string acoustics available today. My cynical mind tends to think sapele has a negative reputation, deserved or undeserved, and now the name of Okoume as a mahogany is exotic enough for people to take a chance on it. Hi, I am Cleaton. Modac X. I realized that the 25th edition is made of Sapele both top and back, while the original Backpacker is made of Sitka Spruce and tonewood. I’ve been playing guitar for several years, and now I’m looking to get myself a Ukelele. 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