Non-Tropical Wood for Guitar Making

English Wood for Guitar Making
Written by Bill Quinn

There is much discussion among EGB members (European Guitar Builders) about using “local woods” to replace tropical wood species. The EGB also have a category in their Holy Grail Guitar Show for guitars made entirely from “local woods”.  It is clear that while guitar makers are not using enough tropical wood to upset the sustainability of the trees, larger consumers of these timbers will continue to threaten the sustainability. It makes sense now to look at non-tropical wood.

Here at Tonetech, over the summer, we employed Damien Gurtner, a wood science and engineering student from France, to research the available information on non-tropical woods suitable for guitar making.

Damien used the physical properties most pertinent to guitar making to compare the traditional tropical hardwoods to non-tropical species having similar properties.  This use of wood science was then corroborated by referencing both the Leonardo Research Project results and dialogue with luthiers around Europe already using their “local woods”.

There is no doubt that instruments can be made from non-tropical wood which are comparable to the best instruments made from tropical wood.  The challenge is to match the visual appeal of tropical wood guitars which have become the “accepted standard”.

Some of the woods being used for Back and Sides are:

European Ash, Cherry, Chestnut, English Oak, Bog Oak, Walnut,  Yew, Hornbeam, Sycamore and London Plane.

The Complete report is undergoing final editing.  We’ll issue a ToneBar “Special” when the editing is finished.

If you’d like a copy of the full report when final editing is done, email with Non-Tropical Wood Report as the subject line.

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Bill Quinn

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