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Are you confused about getting the right tonewood for your next guitar? (or even first!) Well, I understand the anxiety because I went through the same phase – It is quite common. Almost all guitarists have faced this situation once they have progressed enough.

Tonewood contributes a major role in determining the tonal quality of your guitar. Different tonewood produces different qualities of tone. For example, the tone of a maple-body guitar is warm and dark. While an alder-body guitar sounds brighter and thinner.

There is no best in the case of tonewood. Each tonewood is equipped with different tonal qualities for the needs of different genres. It solely depends on your taste in music. Then you can choose your desired tonewood.

How much tonewood affects the tone of a guitar is a debatable topic. Some guitarists argued that it does not affect a bit. However, many guitarists believe that tonewood is a major factor behind the tonal quality of an electric guitar.

I have been playing guitars for more than 7 years. My experience with many types of electric guitars helped me to support the statement. Yes, I have felt the differences in the tonal quality of various tonewoods. 

For example, I possess two electric guitars – one is an alder-body guitar and the other is made of mahogany. The alder-body guitar sounds brighter, clear, and balanced. Whereas the mahogany-body guitar sounds warmer and darker.

Leave it. Many other factors like durability, feel, weight and even price depend on the tonewood. In this article, I am going to discuss the best tonewoods for electric guitars judging all the possible factors, so you can make a decision.

If you are interested, I also have other articles comparing these tonewoods:

6 Best Tonewood For Electric Guitars

Wood Density

Kg/metre cube

Avg Weight (Kg) Tonal Quality Cost Famous Companies
Basswood 300-450 2.5-3.5 Warm and well-balanced tone Cheaper
  • Ibanez
  • Music Man
  • Fender
  • ESP
Alder 300 – 450 3 – 4 Well balanced tone  Medium
  • Fender
  • Ibanez
  • ESP
Mahogany 500 – 600 5 – 6 Gentle and warm tone Costly
  • Fender
  • Gibson and Epiphone
  • ESP
  • PRS
  • Yamaha
  • Jackson
Hard Ash 700 – 900 4 – 6 Bright and clear Medium
  • Fender
  • ESP
  • Jackson
  • Ibanez
Maple 650 – 800 4.5 – 6 Brighter and crispy tone Costly
  • Fender
  • Yamaha
  • ESP
Walnut 600 – 750 4.5 – 5.5 Bright and clear tone. Most Costly
  • PRS
  • Gibson


1. Basswood

Specialty Light & cheap
Tone Warm and well-balanced tone
Density 300 kg/m cube – 450 kg/m cube
Weight 2.5-3.5kg (Light)
Cost Cheaper. Entry level
Feel on hand Smooth & soft
Companies using Ibanez, Fender, Music Man

Basswood guitar

Basswood is a great choice for beginners as it is a soft and lightweight wood. The basswood body is generally found in entry-level electric guitars. The higher availability makes it quite cheaper. 

That is why basswood is used in budget electric guitars. Moreover, it produces a balanced tone to catch beginners to opt for a basswood electric guitar.


  • Guitars made of basswood are lightweight and cheaper.
  • This wood produces a bright and well-defined tone.

Tonal Quality: Basswood produces a rich tone well balanced between low, mid, and high frequencies.

  • Basswood produces a warm and well-balanced tone.
  • This wood produces a warm and dark low end.
  • It delivers a bright and well-defined high-end.

Many people often decide that basswood may not be a good tonewood for an electric guitar as it is lighter and cheaper but that’s not true.

Density: Basswood is a less dense wood which makes it a lighter option than the other tonewoods. Its density ranges from 300 kilograms per metre cube to 450 kilograms per metre cube.

Weight: Electric guitars made of basswood are quite lightweight and easy to vary. Being a less dense wood, it becomes a great choice for those who want a lightweight electric guitar.

Cost: Basswood is widely available throughout the world. That is why this tonewood is cheaper yet a good option. Some famous companies use basswood for entry-level guitars that I have listed below.

Feel: Basswood is a soft and lightweight wood. It gives you a smooth and soft feeling after finishing. Being lightweight, it allows you to perform for a long time without neck pain.

Famous Companies That Use Basswood:

  • Ibanez
  • Music Man
  • Fender
  • ESP

2. Alder

Specialty Hard & long-lasting
Tone Balanced tone
Density 500 kg/m cube – 600 kg/m cube
Weight 3-4 kg (Light)
Cost Medium to high price
Feel on hand Smooth
Companies using Ibanez, Fender, ESP


Alder guitar

Alder tonewood is well-known for providing the most balanced tonal quality. Guitars made of Alder wood are generally light to medium weight. 

That is another reason for its acceptability. Moreover, this dense wood delivers bright and clear low ends with strong and warm bass.


  • Alder wood is hard and long-lasting.
  • It provides the best-balanced tone between low, mid, and high frequencies.
  • The density of this wood is medium which makes the guitar light weighted.

Density: There are mainly two types of alder wood available – Red alder and European alder. The alder wood guitar bodies, necks, or fretboards are not too dense. Its density ranges from around 500 kilograms per metre cube to 600 kilograms per metre cube.

Weight: Alder wood guitars are generally light weighted with balanced tonal quality. It is another reason for their high popularity.

Tonal Quality:

  • Alder wood delivers the most balanced tone between high, low, and mid frequencies.
  • It provides warm and strong bass.
  • The low ends are clear and bright.

Cost: Alder wood-made guitars are quite pricey. Due to the high demand and low supply of this wood, the instruments become a little costly.

Feel: Alder wood is hard but after finishing it feels soft and smooth in your hand. Moreover, making the guitars lightweight, allows the guitarists to hang their guitars for a longer time.

Famous Companies That Use Alder Wood:

  • Fender
  • Ibanez
  • ESP

Also Read: Ash Vs Alder Body: Which Is Better For Weight, Tone & Price

3. Mahogany

Specialty Durable and long lasting
Tone Warm tone
Density 500 kg/m cube – 600 kg/m cube
Weight 5-6 kg (Heavy)
Cost Medium to high price
Feel on hand Smooth but heavy
Companies using Ibanez, Fender, Gibson ESP, PRS, Yamaha

Mahogany guitar

Mahogany wood is a great choice for being durable and long lasting. So, it is the best choice for those who want to spend a little more to get a guitar that will last forever. The guitar made with mahogany wood is usually quite hard and resistant to damage.


  • Mahogany is generally resistant to damage.
  • Mahogany wood provides a rich tone at an affordable price range.

Density: Mahogany wood is a dense wood. Its density ranges from around 500 kilograms per metre cube to 600 kilograms per metre cube.

Weight: Electric guitars made of Mahogany wood are generally heavier in weight. It is due to the high density of the wood.

Tonal Quality: Mahogany wood is a cheaper option that comes with the best and rich tone in its segment. Well, here is the tonal specification you may expect from a Mahogany wood electric guitar.  

  • It provides a gentle and warm tone.
  • Low ends are quite powerful and clear.
  • Smooth and punchy treble.

Cost: Electric guitars made of Mahogany wood can be quite costly because of how dense and durable it is. Below I will provide some famous companies that use mahogany wood as a tonewood for their electric guitar.

Feel: Generally, the feel of your guitar depends on its finish. If your guitar is made of mahogany wood it may feel heavy. However, it will be comfortable to work with.

Famous Companies That Use Mahogany:

  • Fender
  • Gibson and Epiphone
  • ESP
  • PRS
  • Yamaha
  • Jackson

Also Read: Alder Vs Mahogany Body: What’s Better? (Sound, Weight & Cost)

4. Hard Ash

Specialty Durable and long lasting
Tone Bright and clear
Density 700 kg/m cube – 900 kg/m cube
Weight 4 – 6kg (medium – heavy)
Cost Medium to high price
Feel on hand Smooth (After finishing)
Companies using Fender, ESP, Jackson, Ibanez

Hard ash guitar

Hard Ash is a denser and heavier wood. It is hard but after proper finishing, it feels smooth. Like Maple wood, it also produces bright, sharp, and harsh sounds. That is why guitars made of hard ash are very popular among metal players.

Hard Ash has always been a favorite for Fender Electric Guitars. Since 1950, Fender has been using Hard Ash for their guitar.


  • Hard ash is a denser and heavier wood.
  • It produces a bright, sharp, and harsh tone.
  • Provides the tone with a longer sustain.
  • This wood is best for manufacturing guitars used in metal or heavy rock music.

Tonal Quality: The Hard Ash guitar delivers a punchy and bright tone. Its tone is as bright as Maple wood. Due to its punchy and harsh tone, it is generally used for Metal music.

  • It produces bright and clear treble.
  • This wood delivers warm and dark bass.
  • It delivers a Punchy and harsh tone.
  • Hard ash wood gives the tone a longer sustain.

Density: Hard ash wood is quite dense and heavy. Its density ranges from around 700 kilograms per meter cube to 900 kilograms per meter cube.

Weight: Hard ash wood is denser than other tonewoods. Due to high density, guitars made of hard ash can be heavy. However, this depends on the age of the wood and other factors. Regular ash guitars may be lighter than hard ash. 

Cost: Hard ash wood is easily available. But their high popularity, specifically in metal music, makes them a little bit pricey.

Feel: Hard ash woods are quite hard and a little hard to work with. But after getting proper finishing, these guitars feel as smooth as maple wood guitars. On the other hand, these guitars are heavy. If you are a beginner, then you may face neck pain while hanging it for a longer time from your neck.

Famous Companies That Use Hard Ash wood:

  • Fender
  • ESP
  • Jackson
  • Ibanez

Also Read: Ash Vs Alder Body: Which Is Better For Weight, Tone & Price

5. Maple

Specialty Durable and most popular
Tone Brighter and crispy tone
Density 650 kg/m cube – 800 kg/m cube
Weight 4.5 – 6kg (medium – heavy)
Cost Costly
Feel on hand Comfortable but heavy
Companies using Fender, Yamaha, ESP


Guitar with maple neck

Maple is one of the most popular guitar tonewoods. Mainly two types of Maple are found – sugar maple and eastern maple. Generally, hard maple is used in manufacturing the fingerboard and the neck of the guitar. 

Maple is dense and heavyweight. It produces a very bright and clear tone. This makes mahogany-body guitars with maple necks and fretboards popular.


  • Maple is a hard and dense wood.
  • This tonewood makes the guitar long-lasting and durable.
  • It is resistant to damage.
  • Maple-body guitars produce bright and clear tones.

Tonal Quality: Maple is a dense wood. It produces a very bright and crispy tone. Its high ends and mid frequencies are clear. It also produces a sustainable tone. It is less effective in terms of warmer bass frequencies. But you can easily fix it with a good pickup.

  • Maple tonewood produces a brighter and crispy tone.
  • It is mostly focused at the higher and mid frequencies.
  • Deep bass frequencies are lacking. (Fixable with good pickups)
  • It produces a sustainable tone.
  • Each note sounds clear and bright.

Density: Maple is a very dense wood. Its density ranges from around 650 kilograms per meter cube to 800 kilograms per meter cube.

Weight: Denser wood is heavier in weight, and the guitars are so. Maple-body guitars are quite heavy as Mahogany. However, it is a heavy tonewood. So, the main use of it is in the neck and fretboard of electric guitars.

Cost: Maple wood is costly. However, maple wood guitars range in the more expensive category. Reason is behind this is the use of maple wood in the guitar. It is usually used in the neck and fingerboard of a guitar.

Feel: Maple is a hardwood. It makes your guitar durable and resistant to damage. After finishing, this wood feels quite comfortable. On the contrary, the heaviness of it may create a major problem in live concerts.

Famous Companies that Use Maple wood:

  • Fender
  • Yamaha
  • ESP

6. Walnut

Specialty Most premium wood
Tone Brighter and clear tone
Density 600 kg/m cube – 750 kg/m cube
Weight 4.5 – 5.5kg (medium – heavy)
Cost Costly
Feel on hand Oily and premium feel
Companies using PRS, Gibson


Walnut guitar

Walnut wood is often seen in the premium segment guitars. It is almost similar to maple but more oily and hassle-free. Walnut-body guitars are brighter and clearer in sound. 

They produce a smoother tone than maple-body guitars. It is as hard and dense as maple. However, it has the ability to produce better sound. That makes it one of the best tonewoods for guitarists.


  • Walnut is as hard and dense as maple.
  • Its hardness contributes a lot to making your guitar durable and resistant to damage.
  • Walnut-body guitars produce brighter and smooth tones with longer sustainability.

Tonal Quality: Only a few premium segment guitars feature walnut wood. This is because of its hardness like maple and a unique tonal quality. A walnut-body guitar sounds bright and clear with clear low ends. 

Its density increases the sustainability of the tones. With these unique tonal qualities, this tonewood allows guitarists to shuffle between different genres.

  • Walnut produces a bright and clear tone.
  • The tone of a walnut-body guitar is smoother.
  • It effectively handles the lower ends and produces a good bass sound.
  • The higher density of walnut increases the sustainability of tones.

Density: Density plays an important role in producing a brighter and clear tone. Walnut is a dense wood similar to Maple. Its density ranges from around 600 kilograms per meter cube to 750 kilograms per meter cube.

Weight: Walnut comes in the segment of dense wood. That makes it heavier than many other tonewoods.. Due to the high density of walnut wood, walnut guitars are heavier.

Cost: Walnut-body guitars are popular due to their hardness and unique tonal features. Contrarily, only a few premium segment guitars feature this tonewood. That is why walnut-body guitars are quite costly.

Feel: A walnut-body guitar feels almost similar to maple, but they are more oily and easy to work with. However, they are quite heavy. That may trouble you while hanging them for a longer time.

Famous Companies That Use Walnut Wood:

  • PRS
  • Gibson

Which Tonewood Should You Pick?

I have already discussed the specialty and the tonal qualities of the 6 best tonewoods for electric guitars. You may have got a clear idea about them. Now, which tonewood should you pick? Well, that depends on your requirement.

If you like warm or dark tones, go with a mahogany body guitar. Else, a brighter and thinner tone alder-body guitar will be great for you.

Different genres need unique tones. That is why you should decide the tonewood depending on these factors  too.

Here, I am going to suggest the best tonewood based on different genres and specifications. 

Requirement Recommended Tonewood
Rock, Blues and Jazz Genre
  • Alder
Metal and Heavy Metal
  • Basswood
  • Mahogany
Generally good
  • Maple
  • Basswood
  • Alder
Budget guitar
  • Basswood
Mid range guitar
  • Maple
  • Alder
  • Hard Ash
Premium quality
  • Walnut
  • Mahogany
Long sustain
  • Mahogany
  • Hard ash
  • Maple
  • Walnut
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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