With all the hype about tone wood, you wonder if a piece of wood can really affect the sound of a musical instrument.
The answer is a resounding yes. To prove this, get a piece of plywood and a piece of exotic wood like mahogany (an antique mahogany drawer will do or maybe a walnut flooring tile). Now knock on both surfaces. Which one has a deeper and richer sound? You’d probably say it’s the mahogany.
Why? It’s because mahogany is not just ordinary lumber. It is a tone wood. It is a term used for wood that is specifically preferred by luthiers (makers of stringed instruments) and experienced musicians alike.
Are there other types of tone wood that you may not be aware of? Yes and here they are:
Types of Tone wood
- Maple. There are two varieties of maple – soft and hard. Both can be used for the bodies of stringed instruments. It produces a bright, vibrant tone and has a good sustain.
- Rosewood.Rosewood is a very hard and heavy wood. It has a uniquely smooth and warm resonance.
- Ebony. Like rosewood, is hard and heavy. It’s one of the most preferred materials for fingerboards, owing to its beauty and sustaining capacity.
- Mahogany. Mahogany has a rich and deep resonance that makes it a cut above the rest. It’s durable and beautiful with lots of sustaining power. This is probably the reason why most antique instruments were made out of it.
- Walnut. Walnut has a beautiful mottled appearance that makes it one of the most preferred materials for the bodies of stringed instruments. You can also opt for a laminate of this type if you wish.
- Ziricote. This is custom wood at its finest, but unfortunately, rarest. So when you see it sold at online stores or wood stores in your area, don’t think twice. Grab one while you can. If you have the funds, buy wholesale. You can always use it later, resell them or give them away as gifts to very special friends.
There are other types of tone wood out there. However, you have to be very careful when buying them. Some manufacturers use slabs of domestic wood and then pass it off as exotic wood to make more profits. Some use ordinary plywood and glue a laminate of tone wood on top of the instrument.
Make sure that you will be paying for something worthwhile. Buy only from trusted manufacturers and sellers who have gained a reputation for dealing with genuine exotic wood and domestic wood. It will also help to read product reviews or ask a skilled luthier before you part with your hard-earned cash.