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Both ash and alder woods have their own benefits when used to make guitars. Most of the times when swamp ash is used, the guitar is usually really heavy as compared to others. 

However, variables such as weight, tone and price all vary upon the exact guitar you choose rather than it being ash or alder. 

Electric guitars have been around for a long time and the exciting fact about electric guitars is that they are made from various types of woods.

However, the two kinds of wood that have remained constant and popular are Ash and Alder. 

For an excellent electric guitar, it is necessary to use high-quality wood. The material plays a significant role in the weight of the guitar and the tone and feel. You’d also want your guitar to be durable, which is what ash and an alder body provide. 

You may be wondering which of these two would suit you the best? 

Well, lucky for you because I’ve used both ash guitars and alder guitars. I’ll be talking about both of these, and we’re going to help you decide which one works for you. 

But to get your answer, you need to understand the difference between ash and alder guitars. We’ll start comparing the two, and let’s find out what these woods are by discussing the following points: 

  1. Comparison of Ash & Alder
  2. Why Were Ash Guitars Discontinued? 
  3. Is Ash or Alder heavier?
  4. The tone of Ash and Alder
  5. The Better Option of The Two

Note: If you are interested in tonewood comparisons, I have more articles covering this topic (linked below).

Ash Vs Alder Guitar

Ash  Alder 
Weight  Heavy  Lightweight 
Tone  Sweet + Resonant Sound  Balanced tone 
Price  Expensive  Reasonable 

Weight: Ash Vs Alder Wood Guitar

Ash wood is slightly heavier than the Alder, weighing at around 3 – 3.6kg. But it must be kept in mind that the guitar’s weight depends on how it’s made.

If the manufacturers want to keep the guitar-heavy, either one can be heavier or lighter. 

Talking about a personal experience, I got an Ash wood electric guitar which was heavier than the Alder one I had from before even though the difference in weight of both the guitars was negligible, despite the contradictions about the weight of Ash and Alder.

The majority of the people think that Swamp Ash is more lightweight than Alder, but as per the experience I had, it may vary depending on the type of Ash you are getting. 

Ash body guitars are usually lighter – but it all depends on the manufacturer.

Tone: Ash Vs Alder Wood Guitar

Ash guitars produce a more subtle sound in high pitch. Whereas, the alder guitars will produce a resonant and an even high pitched sound. 

Because of the difference between wood types, Ash and Alder guitars may look the same, but slight differences in their respective tones. The Alder guitars are more likely to make a punchy and attacking sound, making its upper-high notes very impressive. 

Similarly, the Ash wood will sound a bit more rounded and subtle, which will result in very pleasant high notes. Depending on your personal preference, either one can suit you. So it is in your hands to choose which one suits your preferences and go for it. 

To make the decision easier for you, let me tell you that both types of woods are some of the best woods used in guitars, so you won’t regret buying either over the other. 

Alder body guitars tend to create a more resonant sound.

More Info On Ash Wood Guitars

The ash wood was used in electric guitar bodies and bass ones. During the 1950s, Ash was the preferred choice for guitar bodies, and now, it’s used in selected guitars. If you have ever seen a bass or a guitar with a blondish color finish, then know that the body has been made from Ash. 

You might discover that there are types of ash trees too, but the American Ash tree is used for guitar bodies. It is the ideal material because of its qualities, like being strong, of light color, dense, and having straight grains. 

If we go into the specifics, the two distinct Ash used for the bodies are southern and northern Ash. 

The southern Ash is also referred to as swamp ash. It is lighter in color and has large open pores. This feature causes a sweet sound to be produced.


More Info On Alder Wood Guitars

In the late 1950s, Fender began to use Alder for electric instruments. Most of the electric instrument’s body is made from Alder. Alder wood is unique as it grows across the world. Commonly in areas that are in the north temperate zone. 

The two types of Alder are black and red Alder. The black Alder is also known as the European Alder, and this is found in Europe and Southwest Asia. The red Alder is located in the West of the US Coast. The red Alder is used more to make bodies of instruments.

Ash Vs Alder Wood: Which Is Better?

The prices of Ash wood are a significant factor that plays a role in deciding your guitar. Generally, Ash wood is considered more expensive than Alder because it is lightweight. 

You may have noticed that you won’t see Ash wood used in low-end guitars; being expensive makes it only feasible to use high-end ones. 

It would not be fair to the art of musical instruments to call any of them better than the other, especially when we are talking about two of the most popular and best wood types for guitars.


The information provided in the article articulates one thing; it is totally up to your personal preference which one is better among Ash and Alder. 

But by keeping a few factors in mind, we can conclude that Ash is usually lightweight and has a very subtle sound. But it comes with a higher cost. 

On the other hand, Alder might be heavier but has a very punchy and robust sound. And let’s not forget that it is still more affordable than Ash. 

Ifandi S.

About Ifandi S.

Ifandi started Strumming Bars to answer all the questions of a guitarist. As a self-learned guitarist, he remembered how frustrating it was to not find answers to his many questions in the journey. With Strumming Bars, that's no longer the case!

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