Non-tropical wood species used in the guitars made for the Leonardo project;

• Backs and sides:
Beech, Birch, Ash, Chestnut, Plane, Alder, Cherry, French Walnut, Poplar, Black Locust (robinia pseudoacacia), Rowan(sorbus aucuparia), Boxwood, Oak, Laburnum, Pear, Cypress, Maple.

• Fingerboards and bridges:
Yew (taxus baccata), Service Tree (sorbus domestica, other English names include Sorb Tree and Whitty Pear) , Plum (prunus domestica), Boxwood (buxus sempervirens), Black Locust (robinia pseudoacacia), Lilac (syringa vulgaris), Golden chain (laburnum)

• Necks:
Walnut, Alder, Cherry, Cypress, Chestnut, Apple, Maple, Elm, Lime.

Two (downloadable) studies below :
1) LGRP paper about neck stabilty.
Tested woods for guitar neks (comparison of tropical and non-tropical spieces):
Poplar Spruce Linden Cypress Walnut Cherry Plane Maple Pear Beech Apple / Cedar Mahogany
2) Paper by university Ghent about neck stabilty (in Dutch):
"Through the use of four different experimental designs an attempt was made to monitor the long-term stability of two tropical species and fifteen European wood species. A total amount of 250 samples were being tested on their stability. The influence of changing moisture contents was analyzed through controlled variations in relative humidity andcontrol samples are added under constant humidity conditions. String tension was applied by a dead weight which delivers a constant tension or by a tuning key. The results show a clear difference in response between different wood species and a strong influence of changing air humidity.... / ... Several European species show a good long-term stability. Alnus glutinosa (alder) and Juglans nigra (black walnut) are proposed to be worthy alternatives to tropical species for guitar necks."

Note: The samples in the two studies were tested without taking the use of a "truss rod" (or another reinforcing part) into account, as is usual within steel-string guitars (or even carbon fiber rods in classical guitar necks). The use of those 'reinforcing systems' significantly increaseses the possibilities of applying several wood species as alternatives for tropical species.

click this link for paper 1 / paper 2

General info

for acoustic steel string and nylon string guitars.


Spruces and Cedars are often used in the tops of instruments because of its high stiffness-to-weight ratio.

Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis, also known as Alaskan spruce), Adirondack spruce (or red spruce, Picea rubens ), Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) and European spruce (Picea abies, also known as Norwegian, German or Alpine spruce) are particularly valued.

Cedars, particularly Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata, not a true cedar), have since the 1950s been used in the tops of classical and steel-string guitars. Other softwoods, such as Redwood, Pine, and Fir, have been used less frequently.


Species that grow in Tropical areas:
Mahogany may be used in the tops of some guitars as well as the back, sides, and necks of instruments of the guitar families. Mahogany may also be used for the solid bodies of electric guitars. Rosewoods are often used in the back and/or sides of guitars. The most sought-after variety, Brazilian Rosewood, Dalbergia nigra, has become scarce and expensive due to over-exploitation and now this species is illegal to import, export, buy, sell. Ebony is often used for fingerboards, tailpieces, bridges and so forth, but rarely as a true tonewood.

More hardwoods: Indian Rosewood dalbergia latifolia, Cocobolo dalbergia retusa, African Utile Mahogany entandrophragma utile, Brazilian Mahogany swietenia macrphyllia, African Mahogany khaya ivorensis, Koa acacia koa, Ovangkol guibourtia ehei, Black Limba terminalia superba, Blackhearted Sassafras atherosperma moschatum, Imbuya (aka Imbuia) phoebe parosa, African Satinwooddistemonanthus tenthamianus, Cedrela cedrela odorata.

Species that grow in Tropical, Subtropical ànd Non-tropical areas:
Tasmanian Blackwood acacia melanoxylon.

Commonly used species that grow in non-tropical areas:
Maple acer pseudoplatanus and Walnutjuglans nigra (Black) /regia (French)
Basswood (also known as lime or linden), Ash and Elder are often used in solid body guitars.

Not so commonly used non-tropical species:
These woods were used with very good results for the LGRP-guitars and also within the
"local wood chalenge" project:
Beech, Birch, Ash, Chestnut, Plane, Alder, Poplar, Black Locust, Sorbus , Boxwood, Oak, Yew, Laburnum, Cherry, Apple, Pear, Eucalyptus, Bog Oak ...
Although these species are little used the last century, we would like to note that they were frequently used in the Early European Guitars; see this (external) blog / "it seems that alternative woods are not so much being discovered as being rediscovered. What’s traditional and what’s alternative maybe depends on the timeframe you choose". (Richard Hobbs)

(*NL) Note in Dutch / Nota in het Nederlands: De Engelse termen Hardwood (NL = loofhout) en Softwood (NL = naaldhout) worden soms foutief vertaald als hardhout en zachthout. Dit zorgt voor verwarring. 'Hardwoods' kunnen immers zachter zijn dan 'softwoods'. Taxus (softwood) is bv. harder dan loofhoutceder, els, linden, populier... allemaal 'hardwoods' !

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