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Pairing Top and Back Woods for Acoustic Guitars

Choosing the right types of top and back woods for your acoustic guitar will have major impact on its tone, projection, and responsiveness. In general:

Softer back wood works best with softer top wood; otherwise the soft back will not “drive” the top well for volume and projection.

Harder back woods work well with a range of top woods; a hard back will fully drive a softer top, and will still drive a harder top well.

For maximum volume, headroom, and aggression, choose a hard back and a hard top.

For delicacy and subtlety, choose softer, lighter woods.

Choosing woods from the medium-hard range, such as rosewood and certain types of spruce provides a good compromise of responsiveness versus volume and projection (and is likely the reason this pairing is so popular).

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