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Types Of Wood?

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what type of guitar are you planning on building?

the statement about mahognay and rosewood being the best woods made me wonder if this was an acoustic we are talking about, in which case responses might be different.

at the end of the day you have to work with what you can find and what you can afford.. but most hardwoods can be used for guitars, especially if its solid body electric guitars. might be worth having a look through the forum and seeing some of the different woods people have used.. it does not come down to mahogany and rosewood being the best and it certainly would be hard to compare them directly as they would make very different guitars

if it is electrics we are talking about have a look at this for a run down of some of the more common woods


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You can use pine, but it it usually avoid since poplar, basswood, ash, and alder are superior hardwoods and not nearly as soft and cost right about the same as pine. Oak has been used, but is generally not used since it is very heavy, and not as dense as some other woods for the weight. But it can be used. Usually you are not going to find thick enough wood at your normal hardware stores. They are usually only 1" thick, and I rarely find hardwood their that is dried properly, and to the right amount. You are better finding a local lumber mill and buying from them.

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I would not recommend oak. When I was a teenager I built a "guitar" with a big red oak neck. It's a nasty splintery wood, very hard to shape (or maybe it was my lack of skill at the time). Anyway, you can get poplar at Lowes' and it's adequate for a solidbody. If you can't get it thick enough (you can't), you can laminate several pieces.

I would not make a neck out of poplar.

Mammoth Guitars sells body blanks at very reasonable prices.


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Basswood is cheap and so is poplar. Also look on ebay for some good prices. I would not use pine it splits very easily and produces very bound sounds. Basswood is very easy to work with as well. Just remeber you have to paint poplar it has a very poor natural grain and color (but its sound is fine)

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A body blank 8/4 is going to be about 4 bd ft of lumber. You can purchase kiln dried lumber, that has hopefully been sitting around for a spell.

Typical costs of common domestic hardwoods are not that high.

Alder, Basswood, Ash, Maple, Cherry. All run in the $4-7 bd. ft range (nice grade lumber, yu can get it for less, but the lower grade=higher flaws or defects).


Khaya, Sapele, Honduran Mahogany, Black Limba. All Run in the $4.50-12 bd. ft. range. Poplar varies between $1.50-$3 (cheap)

Now, if you have to order these and pay shipping in the US. You will pay between .75 cents(Local) to $1.25(cross country) per. pound shipped. Four board feet of the woods mentioned plus basic packaging will weigh between 15-20lbs.(Approx)

So the wood itself will run between $16 and $48. The shipping will run $11-15 (local), and $19-25 (cross country). You can see the obvious downside to shipping, but when you figure the price of these woods without screwing around with laminates or Home Depots offerings. It makes sense to just buy the wood you want. Do not buy partially dried hardwoods at a minor discount(it is not worth it, unless you want to store it for a long time and get a significant discount), kiln dried is good and relatively reliable.

My recommendation(if this is a solid body)- Buy Khaya or Alder for a first. You can request just the cut you are looking for in these woods(commonly available just as is needed for bodies in two piece form). These woods are stable, easy to work with, relatively light, Glue well, both are reasonably durable. Both of these woods retail for about $4-5 bd. ft. If you are not set up with tools to join and surface, and would like to buy a body blank that has been prepaired. You can buy from a couple dealers that offer the service for a very reasonable price. I wuld not screw around with a problematic wood unless you understand what you will be up against (Pine is soft, and the HD version is not likely to be stable, Basswood is viable although very soft, HD Poplar a wild card as to moisture content and you will be paying for finish dimensioned boards* spendy for what it is).

If this is an acoustic project. That is another story, but there are very reasonably priced options.


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Go to woodfinder.com, type in the kind of wood you're looking for along with your ZIP code, and it will spit out a list of all the wood dealers near you that carry the wood you're looking for. Most likely it will be a bunch of Woodcraft store locations...their selection is highly variable and changes.

Forget about pine if you want an instrument that will be playable and stay in tune.

FWIW most hardwood places carry maple that is way cheaper (by the board-foot) than any Home Depot.

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It sounds like you need to get Melvyn Hiscock's book, "Make your own Electric Guitar", before you go any further. Asking questions like this indicate that you lack a decent understanding of the whole process, and you would be greatly benefited by reading that book before doing anything else. Rushing into it will only result in an unplayable instrument and an overall frustrating experience.

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If you're going to a hardwood place, you should be able to find several of these, any of which will do just fine for an electric body:



Khaya ("African Mahogany")



Primavera ("White Mahogany")


Basswood (very soft for hardwood...dents pretty easily)

There are others, but that should give you a good list to pick from.

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Not sure if your picking up neck wood and body wood.

Neck wood,



Be sure to look over the Sapele, Genuine Mahogany, and cherry. (all great neck woods)

Body wood,

Anything on your list (after Spruce is removed),

Look at Ash, Myrtle, Walnut, Cherry, Padauk, Black or white Limba,Sapele.

Fretboard wood?

Harder woods that are often found at local dealers.

Ebony, African Blackwood, Cocobolo Rosewood, Pau Ferro (Bolivian Rosewood), Bloodwood, Bubinga, Honduran Rosewood, Grandillo, Goncalo Alves, East Indian Rosewood, Tulipwood Rosewood, Pearwood, Wenge, Amazique, Shedua.

Plan on spending some time looking around at the different woods. Practice looking at the grain orientation. If they sell a lot of ruff lumber take a small plane(be sure to ask before you use it, they should be fine with it, but it is polite). Also get a feel for the weight of these woods, inspect the pores so you can get a good idea as to what woods require more grain fill and finish work. Wood selection is a huge part of building instruments.

Have fun!


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