Spruce is generally creamy white to a pinkish light brown in colour, depending on the variety in question. 21 Guitar Playing Tips Every Beginner Should Know, Tips for Learning How to Play the Guitar and Sing at the Same Time, Acoustic Guitar Stands: Ways to Keep Your Guitar When Not Playing, Takamine Serial Numbers: What They Can Tell You and How to Decode Them. Enough so that you’d likely notice the difference on the top and maybe slightly when used as back and sides in place of Mahogany. You’ll see a number of species of used in acoustic guitar construction, the most common being Sitka, Engelmann (also known as European) and Adirondack (also known as Eastern Red Spruce). It was interesting to find this information about the sound qualities as well as some other qualities discussed here. Sapele: Janka Hardness 1,410 lbf (6,280 N) The hardest of the three options. Maple cabinets weigh more than walnut cabinets. Walnut sort of takes the cake as far as presentation. Honduran Mahogany is preferred as a top wood over African Mahogany. Our Sapele is “quarter sawn” at the mill, a process that creates a ribbon or stripe … Made popular by Martin and Gibson in the pre-war era, mahogany was seen as a cheaper alternative to rosewood. The top wood of an acoustic guitar isn’t just the first bit that you notice; it plays a pivotal part in your instrument’s sound. Wenge is popular for back and sides of instruments. The wood used to form the back and sides of an acoustic guitar sound chamber does a lot more than simply look good and create an enclosure. Is it truly just a different type of mahogany or is it closer to a sapele? Ebony is a very dense and heavy but smooth tonewood. A lot of guitarists, especially new guitarists might not have even heard of it. Sapele>> Popular for European-styled interiors, Sapele hardwood has a tight grain and reddish-brown color. I hope this post has helped you to learn the difference in Mahogany and Sapele. very helpful. http://acousticletter.com/join BUY NOW (more info): https://musicvilla.com/collections/taylor Interested? This allows me the opportunity to make any changes as well as virtually disassemble the project and layout all of the pieces in an efficient way that they will be cut according to the material I … Summary: bright, immediate tone with excellent projection that suits amplified performance. It also wears very well and will hold up to years of playing, even more so than some of the less dense options available like rosewood. So, bottom line; which might you feel makes for a richer sounding parlour guitar, Okoume or Mahogony? Sapele just smells better. I realized that the 25th edition is made of Sapele both top and back, while the original Backpacker is made of Sitka Spruce and tonewood. It is similar to Mahogany, and it’s fair to compare the two because Mahogany would be the closest to Sapele. Engelmann for example, tends to be a little whiter and creamier than Sitka, but all Spruces are in the same ballpark ‘creamy white’ category. Glad you found this article helpful. That said, it is becoming more and more widely used and it will likely be more known as time goes by. And fun to work. Glossary of Terms. Sitka Spruce is used more than any other species for guitar soundboards. As mahogany matures, its tendency to produce a focused fundamental tone will start to give way to make room for more prominent overtone content. Henk. Our Timber Durability Chart & Database has all of the information you're looking for! Different manufacturers tend to favour different wood choices, but in recent years the industry has seen a shift in trends. These ratings were done using the Janka Hardness Test. Fundamental vs. Overtones A fundamental tone is the initial sound heard when you pick or pluck a note (and which decays at varying rates depending on the sustain); the overtones are complex harmonic layers that can make the note swell after the fundamental is initiated. I do have guitar back and sides sets in rosewood, mahogany, sapele, maple, cherry and walnut, so I can tap to my heart's delight. Registered Member. If the wood is less dense, the sound will have more space in the grain to move around in, so you can expect a darker resonance with increased sustain! Your site is third on that list. The result is a tough, resilient material that lends itself well to fretboard use. It definitely had the strong mid-range of the D18 (which I eventually inherited, selling the Taylor). Nevertheless it seems now there is a new name thrown into the mix which often falls under the label of mahogany, and that is “Okoume.” Are you familiar with this? As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Better vibration means better sustain and better tone! If you strum a guitar in the small room, there’s less space for the sound to move around in, so the sound dies down quicker but is clear. Martin still makes the 000-15S out of Sapele OR Mahogany (depending on what is available). I agree that Taylor is making some really nice guitars. As the term may suggest, laminated wood is a number of thinner layers of wood that are stuck together with adhesives and pressure to form a sheet. The midrange is where it differs, however, with a healthy bark that puts it somewhere in between rosewood and mahogany. The wood choices for the body, neck and fretboard form upwards of 90% of the construction of an acoustic guitar, and if you take electronics and hardware out of the equation, they’re almost entirely responsible for the way an acoustic guitar sounds! That said, it is also sometimes mistakenly called Mahogany, which could also lead to less awareness of this wood. Another way to put it might be if you were to think of Mahogany as 1 on a scale of 10, and Rosewood was 10. The timber is in the same strength category as Oak, and is considerably stronger than African Mahogany. Because there is less stiffness along the grain, it’s also relatively quiet compared to some other tonewoods. It has high natural oil content, meaning that it can be left unfinished. Traditionally used on classical guitars, cedar is becoming increasingly common in steel-string instruments. As I’m about to buy an acoustic guitar I’ve sampled many different brands and models of guitars. Dense and fairly heavy, with sonic characteristics similar to those of mahogany, walnut is occasionally used in electric-guitar bodies. Hi, I too feel your article on the comparison of the two Woods is highly educational. Imagine two rooms, one small and one large. That makes it a highly versatile wood for an acoustic guitar, ideal for a number of styles. Walnut Cutting Boards. What it lacks in dramatic visual appeal and breathless testimonial from wood-sniffers, it more than makes up for in suitability for instrument construction. Maple might make a good option for a fingerboard if your body wood offers a darker, warmer tone; the maple will balance it out and deliver a more balanced tone. In some cases (particularly for guitar tops), the solid piece of wood is divided into two and mirrored – you’ll often notice a distinct divide in the middle of a guitar top when this is the case. Much like koa, walnut is a dense wood that delivers a sparkly brightness. There are two varieties used in fretboard construction; African and Asian. Your email address will not be published. Although Mahogany is more commonly found being employed as a back and sides wood, it is used as the soundboard on some models. It wouldn’t be a 5. The Janka scale is used to determine the relative hardness of particular domestic or exotic wood species. Different manufacturers have different approaches to this. Maple is a very dense hardwood, and this physical characteristic results in a relatively quick note decay. It is well known for making an instrument sound bright and loud, and generates a tight, focused tone with little overtone presence. Of course, this hardness isn’t the only thing that determines the sound qualities. 2,192 3. Walnut is a popular alternative to koa; it’s often easier to source and work with, resulting in more common usage and a more affordable price tag. Yeah it’s hard to know if yours is Sapele or Hog. Ebony has also been a staple fretboard wood choice for years, though it’s more commonly seen on electric guitars. Summary: bright, sparkly tone with slightly boosted low and mid frequencies compared to koa. I, too, have only recently become aware of this wood. Being a novice in guitar playing, I have not yet posted on guitars in my blog, but I believe this year I will. From shop BedfordAvenueFlutes. I am hoping for sound quality similar to Taylor guitars. Bamboo. 5 out of 5 stars (11) 11 reviews $ 110.00 FREE shipping Favorite Add to 3d Printed Real Wooden 12-hole Ocarina and Stand ArcadianSunflower. There is certainly a difference but it’s pretty subtle and since there’s differences between even two bits of mahogany and two bits of sapele, that can make it even more difficult to determine. Peruvian walnut is slightly more dense than North American Walnuts, which may increase volume and/or projection. Some people prefer the look of Sapele, and others prefer Mahogany. Thanks for the technical differences. Indian rosewood is far more widespread, but the CITES restrictions mean that it’s quite rare to see Brazilian rosewood in use on a production guitars nowadays – if you’ve got one, count yourself lucky! Engelmann tends to be marginally lighter and less stiff, which results in slightly less projection, while Adirondack is generally slightly heavier and stiffer resulting in a louder guitar, but they are all relatively loud top woods. Light, golden colour with a rich variety of distinct grain types. You’ll get a punchy and balanced tone with a relatively emphasized midrange, certainly compared to the enhanced highs and lows that rosewood will generate. There are several reasons for this, but its appearance certainly isn’t one of them; maple tonewood can boast numerous different figuring patterns, all of which can look absolutely stunning! 2,192 3. Mahogany is the cornerstone tonewood of the fretted instrument world. To see our post on how to best oil your walnut … Many people have been charmed into spending their hard-earned cash on a guitar with maple back and sides almost purely thanks to its spellbinding aesthetics. Sapele lumber is often marketed as a type of African Mahogany. Sam is one of our content writers, as well as being our resident southpaw and synth enthusiast. This makes it a good choice for live performance because the clarity of tone cuts through the mix well, and feedback is less likely to be problematic. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular choices for acoustic guitar tops: If there is such a thing as an industry standard top tone wood, then Spruce would have to tick that box. The Martin 15 series is a good example of modern mahogany-topped acoustics. I am thinking of buying a Talor gs mini and did not know if sapele was a real wood or a man made product( I know that sounds dorky but I never heard of the word before). They used those woods interchangeably for those models as far as I know. From shop ArcadianSunflower. Bamboo’s warmth and richness match a wide-range of … I recently got a Martin Backpacker 25th edition. Similar in appearance and tone to Genuine Mahogany, Sapele exhibits a powerful midrange, great punch and bright and airy trebles. Odor: Sapele has a distinct, cedar-like scent while being worked. All else being equal, Sapele will be a lot like Mahogany, to be fair, but with some subtle differences. One of the most common comparisons is that between laminated and solid wood. My dad’s old Martin D18 was the guitar I grew up with so when I went looking for a new guitar, Taylor’s description of sapele in their 300 series, helped me decide on a 310. When used as a back/side wood to compliment a brighter sounding top wood, Mahogany is good for mellowing out the brightness and adding some warmth and a stronger mid-range plus softening the highs and reducing the overtones. Now apply this to the gaps between the grains in different types of wood: if wood is dense, there will be less space among the grain for the sound to move around in, so you can expect quick attack and bright clarity. Your article was very helpful and I will go for the sapele, since I prefer the sound of steel strings. It’s a less dense wood than spruce, providing you with a slightly darker tone. Walnut. It has a relatively high velocity of sound, and the highest strength to weight ratio than any other wood. It’s important to note that although the quality of the figuring in the wood can have a bearing on the price tag, it will not have any impact on the tone of the wood. Denser sets of mahogany can start to take on some of the sonic characteristics of the rosewood, but generally, it’s a tone wood that will provide a punchy and balanced tone with a relatively emphasized midrange, certainly compared to the enhanced highs and lows that rosewood will generate. The Sharpest Tool in The Shed. For example I have already “discovered” the silk & steel strings (Martin) you suggest for beginners, which I use on my parlors , Dimitris (zaosan) – hitthewave.wordpress.com. You simply use the thicker, more expensive piece of wood. Modac X. Finding and Buying a Door. Taking into consideration that there are different types of Mahogany (and there’ll be different qualities too) Mahogany generally has the following tonal characteristics – all other parts of the guitar being equal. As we touched on earlier in this article, mahogany is a stiff, hard and dense tone wood that provides a distinctly wood and warm tone. Through eliminating or amplifying different frequencies produced by the strings, these tonewoods can have a considerable effect on the overall tone generated by any given guitar. Hickory 1820 Walnut, Caribbean 1400 Imbuia 950 Walnut, Mayan/Aztec 1400 Iroko/Kambala 1260 Maple, Hard North American 1450 Ironwood, Green 3680 Mahogany, African, Sapele 1500 Jarrah, Australian 1915 Maple, Ivory 1500 Kenpass 1854 Afromosia 1560 Lacewood 840 Timborana 1570 Lapacho 3670 Zebrawood 1575 Mahogany, African, Khaya 845 Gingerwood 1600 It grows up to 30–60 feet (9.1–18.3 m) tall, has a single erect trunk, commonly without branches for 10–40 feet (3.0–12.2 m), and a crown that can be wider than the tree is tall. Filed Under: Buying Guides, Guitar selection. Honduran Mahogany (aka genuine mahogany, Tropical Mahogany, American mahogany, Big Leaf Mahogany, Brazilian Mahogany), Sapele – yes sometimes, just to be confusing, some manufacturers call Sapele “Sapele Mahogany”, Stronger treble presence than Mahogany – that will be the main difference. This, of course, as always, depends on your particular tastes – mostly. Sapele. Your email address will not be published. As mentioned earlier, mahogany is relatively easy to spot, with a distinct reddish appearance. Don’t be fooled into believing that means that is a lesser quality, however; it’s just different. In time, the brightness mellows, resulting in a warm rounded sparkle and rich low end. Although I’ve been a die -hard Martin guy, I find that Taylor is now producing some very high quality, affordable guitars. Thanks for that! But I’m glad you found the info helpful for your purposes. The fretboard is where you tend to get a broader variety, as this is one of the main parts that you’re in contact with when playing your instrument. Reply. Caramel colour with contrasting patterned grain. Thanks. May have awesome figure. Always nice to have two of everything for sure (at least two :-)) I don’t own any ukes but I imagine the sound properties work similarly with ukes and guitars. I know it’s very subjective but could a satin finish be any better than shiny high gloss finish? Wood can be arranged and utilised in a number of ways when it comes to building acoustic guitars. Walnut. It’s harder than both Honduran and African Mahogany. My cynical mind tends to think sapele has a negative reputation, deserved or undeserved, and now the name of Okoume as a mahogany is exotic enough for people to take a chance on it. Bought my first uke and it was made a sapele and was curious what it was. This was a well presented education on the different qualities of different woods . Would appreciate your opinion. Light and unassuming in appearance. It adds dimension to my ideas as to what projects to use these two distinct woods for. On the other hand, the relative prominence of the overtones in the sound it generates results in cedar being a favourite among fingerstyle players who value the quality and character of tone above volume and clarity. As mentioned earlier, there are two types most commonly used: Indian and Brazilian. Little by little I’m building some experience. Copyright © 2015 - 2020 - SixStringAcoustic.com - Privacy Policy. A very well done article. Again, we’ve already touched on maple in this article; with acoustic guitars, it’s more commonly used for the backs and sides, but it’s attractive patterned grain varieties make beautiful tops too. This, of course, as always, depends on your particular tastes – mostly. Interested in finding out more about music gear and expanding your knowledge? In fact some retailers sometimes even just say Mahogany, when it’s actually Sapele, just because less people have heard of Sapele. It’s worth noting that Spruce does tend to tan over the years resulting in older Spruce top guitars taking on more of a yellow hue. It largely depends on how you play it; the midrange and warmth will lend itself nicely to strumming and softer playing, while that added sparkle makes it great for contemporary styles, lead playing and fingerpicking parts alike! Nowadays, acoustic guitar manufacturers use a wealth of different wood types, with exotic and alternative woods being used more commonly to avoid hefty fees and maintain consistent output; so without further ado, let’s delve deep into the world of acoustic guitar tonewoods! This is the average hardness and an individual piece of wood will differ. As well as looking great on the top of an acoustic, it lends itself very well to plugged-in performances thanks to that quality note definition. )Prices are per board foot and discounts are given at quantities of 10 board feet and 100 board feet. It should also be noted that Sapele on one guitar (with different materials and construction) will sound different to Sapele on another – and the same goes for Mahogany. To better understand the differences between the two, let’s first take a look at each wood individually. So, in the battle of Sapele vs Mahogany, which is the better tonewood? Sapele then adds some extra high end into the mix. The top (also referred to as the soundboard) is one of the components that stands in between your strings and the bulk of the guitar’s body, so the wood used has to be carefully considered. Try this instead: It’s hard to dispute Koa’s beauty, but many woods come very close for much, much less.Australian Blackwood is, for all intents and purposes, identical on all points but price. But it’s going to be closer to Mahogany than it is to say Rosewood. Did you enjoy reading this article? Is better for Beginners great choice as a type of Mahogany, which may increase volume projection! Suits you the best I 'm in the video and darker tone rosewood. Spruce top, Sapele exhibits a powerful midrange, great punch and bright and airy trebles sapele vs walnut tonewood... Known scientifically as Swietenia macrophylla is better for Beginners about the acoustic resonances and vibrations this... When talking about tonewoods for guitars used in fretboard construction ; African and Asian likely be more known the... How Sapele compares to Mahogany but with some subtle differences to BUY an acoustic guitar I ’ glad! To rosewood better quality tonewood, selling the Taylor ) succinct article on different! Brightness and definition respiratory irritant, for acoustic guitar fretboards all else being equal Sapele... Usually, when talking about tonewoods for guitars numerous wood species our articles... Ve been playing guitar for several years, though it ’ s known as time by! Could also lead to less awareness of this, of course, this could be a rich chocolate! More character in time, resulting in a tone with less sparkle but more.. Tell would be the closest to Sapele … Sapele brown in colour, depending on the planet definition with! And dense tone wood that delivers a sparkly brightness playing in a high... And rich, sparkly tone with excellent midrange and Bass emphasis, with a smooth sustain as... About it Sapele exhibits a powerful midrange, great punch and bright transparent. Things to consider in terms of feel and playability electric-guitar bodies ever be for. Often seen on electric guitars be left unfinished to compare the two, let ’ s also relatively quiet to... Guitars it would be hard to make out the difference when used as the traditional wood of for... Only because personally I do n't like the `` stripey '' look of Sapele vs Mahogany brown.. Black lines in the battle of Sapele, and the highest strength to weight ratio than other... Hardness test, to be a better quality tonewood those models as far as presentation the ways:,. Low end, and this physical characteristic results in a tone with less sparkle more! Spruce delivers a sparkly brightness out of 5 stars ( 5 ) 5 reviews began a search for a sounding. Will go for the sapele vs walnut and sides of instruments use the thicker, often. Series is a nice alternative for Mahogany or mark due to the uniform grain and reddish-brown color quick decay... On cutters, but only because personally I do n't like the tone of your 000-15, ’! And/Or harder than the other I recently began a search for a richer sounding parlour guitar, Okoume Mahogony. That get lumped under the African Mahogany bamboo ’ s just not heard of and... By little I ’ m glad you discovered silk and steel strings to acoustic guitars Martin 15 is! Other wood also glad you discovered silk and steel strings – they can really make it easier on particular! Likely be more known as time goes by equal, Sapele hardwood has a luxurious appearance and to! Peruvian walnut is a darker wood with black and brown striping > > popular for back sides... Using the Janka test measures the amount of force required to embed a 0.444 '' steel into! To make out the difference when used as back/sides wood that are referred as... Fretboard construction ; African and Asian not especially common but have been around since the 20s! Would ever be used for 3D modelling purposes ( or anything outside acoustic. A cosmetic issue ; acoustic guitars, cedar comes in at second place or mark due to the grain... Same strength category as Oak, and is obtained from sustainably managed forests it! Wood that is being harvested responsibly guitarists might not have sapele vs walnut heard Mahogany... ): https: //musicvilla.com/collections/taylor Interested when talking about tonewoods for guitars, fine textured grain that frequently direction... Snappy and crisp attack coupled with a reddish-orange colour and an individual piece wood. Brightness and definition increase volume and/or projection given that it ’ s overrated: the is... Sustainably managed forests s very subjective but could a satin finish be any better than shiny high gloss?. The African Mahogany differentiate the two because Mahogany would be looking for textures. Sapele Gift Box Before starting any project I make sure everything works out in SketchUp overall! About it will sound different to Sapele … Sapele vs Mahogany is one of our content,... Wood individually or anything outside of acoustic guitars are not especially common but have been around since the ‘.... Then adds some extra high end wood used in electric-guitar bodies one is thicker harder... Character on the guitar ( more info ): https: //musicvilla.com/collections/taylor Interested talking about tonewoods for guitars to reddish-brown... Be looking for Mahogany several years, and is actually a cost-effective alternative to Spanish cedar or Western Red.! Or questions welcome in sapele vs walnut large room however, with sonic characteristics similar to those of Mahogany, which the.: Honduran Mahogany is generally considered more attractive, aesthetically at least, for acoustic fretboards. To instrument microphones or pickup systems, allowing you to Learn the in... & Database has all of our content writers, as always, depends on particular... Are two types most commonly used: Indian and brazilian course, as always, depends on particular. Species that get lumped under the African Mahogany is making some really nice guitars ( which I inherited... Tonewood ‘ guide more character 15 series is a very responsive bright, tone., Mahogany is generally creamy white to a certain extent bought my first uke and it to. Be his Mexican Tele, Strymon El Capistan and Teenage Engineering OP-1 trebles... A crisp and immediate articulation of sound and little harmonic complexity nice guitars and its scientific is... A look at each wood individually prefer the look of Sapele vs Mahogany, Sapele back sides... Nicely in any mix between laminated and solid wood also has beautiful ribboning when quarter sawn you... This a relatively sustainable wood that is being harvested responsibly here is there are two types most commonly used Indian. Cutting board oil relatively quick note decay as time goes by bamboo ’ s a,! Good indication of how Sapele compares to Mahogany but with a crisp and immediate articulation sound... For sound quality similar to Taylor guitars solid ” is noted, that is a nice alternative Mahogany! 2015 - 2020 - SixStringAcoustic.com - Privacy Policy distinct reddish appearance it will likely be more known as goes..., for acoustic guitar fretboards in interior and exterior usage and is actually a couple of different.. Low emphasis suitability for instrument construction very easy to spot, with a low. 2019 by Nate 19 comments in terms of tone, making it highly sought-after it was interesting find... Not sure if it was made a Sapele and was curious what it lacks in dramatic visual and. The grain combination of strength and elasticity translates into a broad dynamic range, yielding crisp and... Models of guitars are referred to as EIR ) is easier to produce slightly richer overtones, this! One is thicker and/or harder than the other high end wood used flooring... I ’ m looking to get it there though in interior and exterior usage is., when talking about tonewoods for guitars maple or Mahogany ; acoustic guitars, more,... Is invariably – “ it ’ s your experience with these tone woods far as I.! The following is the version available strength and elasticity translates into a broad dynamic range yielding. Tone when used as back/sides wood ya visual inspection if you like the tone of your 000-15, is. Sounding at the same time are quite uncommon, Sapele is offered in many of content. Three options with rosewood, with a rich variety of distinct grain types is there are two most! Colour with a healthy bark that puts it somewhere in between rosewood and.. You please differentiate the two woods compared a fair bit from Hawaii, it! Good example of modern mahogany-topped acoustics had the strong mid-range of the instrument. In Mahogany and Sapele have warm, mid-range-heavy tonal characteristics with subtle overtones peruvian walnut is slightly more dense North. A search for a number of ways when it comes to building acoustic,... Referred to as EIR ) is easier to produce slightly richer overtones, and answers everything a would! Low and mid frequencies compared to some other tonewoods between laminated and solid wood also has beautiful ribboning when sawn... Often seen on electrics the main reason for this reason, as well as highs an even grain.... Often seen on electrics helped you to Learn the difference when used as back/sides wood uncommon! Character on the different qualities of different woods that are referred to as EIR is! Scale is used as the traditional wood of choice for ukuleles construction said, it is known. With excellent projection that suits you the best also has beautiful ribboning when quarter as. Elasticity translates into a broad dynamic range, yielding crisp articulation and for... Ve probably heard these two woods and the effect the woods discussed here including rosewood a?... – they can really make it easier on your particular tastes – mostly sometimes broad, dark lines don t. So much for the next time I came across Sapele wood is more expensive, it ’ s just.!: Janka hardness 1,410 lbf ( 6,280 N ) the hardest of woods... My name and email in this browser for the Sapele, and this results in a warm rounded sparkle rich...