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Tonewoods

When dealing with stringed instruments, “tonewoods” categorizes various types of wood used for the construction of an instrument’s body, neck, and fingerboard, etc, based on the tonal properties they impart. There are a number of factors that determine the tonal properties of wood. Perhaps the most important factor a luthier must take into account in selecting tonewoods is velocity of sound, which refers to the speed at which a material transmits received energy. A luthier must design with materials that facilitate the transmission of vibrational energy. Lively materials, those with a high velocity of sound, or low internal damping make the best facilitators. Tonewoods can also take on different characteristics when used for different parts of a guitar. For example, mahogany, when used for back and sides tends to emphasize bass and treble, while as a top, it responds best to the upper end of the frequency range, producing a punchy tone. When used as a neck, it imparts a warm, “woody” sound. On the other hand, a maple neck produces a bright, “poppy” sound. Tonewoods can also take on different characteristics when used in different models of guitars – even those built by the same maker.

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