Below are actual photos of wood from my stock, that is available for a custom guitar. One reason I can't give a general price on a guitar, is that each set of wood is purchased separately and priced individually when purchased.
Tops and backs affect the tone of the guitar, as well as the final price. That said, you can get a beautiful sounding guitar from any of these sets, regardless of price. The prices are based on the physical appearance and the availability and not what the eventual "quality" of the sound will be, since that is subjective. Brazilian Rosewood is incredibly expensive and was the standard for guitars 50 years ago, but if you want the sound of maple, Brazilian won't do. Many other woods offer unique and beautiful tone and some are, and have been, used to substitute for Brazilian. Indian Rosewood is now the standard wood of the two.
If you have any questions on a particular set, please contact me! Questions are always welcome. For more complete technical information on these and more woods, visit: Tonewood Data Source.
Click and image to enlarge and get info.
Close up of Quilted Maple
The quilting is accentuated when finish is applied and by bright light.
Small portion of a Bubinga wood back. According to Tonewoods Data Source:
"If one wanted a guitar with a traditional sound, but with more visual drama than Indian rosewood, Bubinga should definitely be considered."
Birds Eye Maple
Maple in all varieties is a staple of instrument making. Bird's eye is less common than curly or flame maple. According to Tonewoods Data Source
"Birdseye Maple - is hard and stiff, whereas Flamed can run the gamut from hard and stiff to soft and warm. Uniquely figured American "Birdseye" maple displays characteristics and tonal properties similar to European Flamed maple."
Curly Maple comes in both soft and hard varieties. See Birdseye for a description of hard Curly Maple. Soft Curly maple is similar to hard although with a general tendency to be more bassy. Soft maple is slightly more responsive than Hard Maple but with less sustain.
Very pretty and even better when sprayed, which brings out and deepens the figure.
Bird's Eye close up
Same as the full photo, just a little more detail. Bird's eye will pop and look almost like water droplets when sprayed. More common on antique furniture because it is too expensive for any other than boutique builders now.
There are pieces which are more or less and deeper flame, but that doesn't affect sound. More depth is usually more expensive because pieces are harder to come by and more in demand. I would call this a medium depth of flame, still very pretty!
Dragon Tongue Maple-New Hampshire
This is a special piece I picked up from a New Hampshire supplier. Another guitar I built with it sounded and looked spectacular! (See Home Page photo) The nicest flame I've seen anywhere.
This set caught my eye at a show in NY. Flat sawn according to the Tonewood Data Source. This will make a very pretty and bassy guitar!
Mahogany grows in many places from Central and South America, to Africa. Can have figure ranging from straight grain to ribbon pattern or some variation. Another version is African Sapele, Produces a full, clear and sustained tone with air in the sound.
Another example of the variety of grain in African Mahogany.
According to Tonewoods Data Source:
"An African relative of rosewood, it’s a great sounding wood that shares many of rosewood’s tonal properties, with a slightly fuller midrange and a top end that’s not quite as bright as maple. A well-rounded kind of sound. Being lesser known than rosewood, Ovangkol has been a sleeper hit over the years, asserting itself as an instant contender among unsuspecting players..."
Often plantation grown (if not always at this point), Indian Rosewood has replaced Brazilian, for quite some time, as the standard when referring to a "Rosewood" guitar. Rich sound with full overtones and resonance, this makes an excellent all around guitar for both finger style and strumming, depending on the top chosen and how it is built. according to Tonewoods Data Source:
"All told, there are more than 300 rosewood species."
I've had this set in my shop for 7 or 8 years now, waiting for the right player to come along: could it be you? According to Tonewoods Data Source:
"...Diospyrus macassar, commonly called Macassar Ebony (see elsewhere), is not as plentiful as the African species, but its greater density makes it even more useful in certain types of manufacturing. ...Because they are so difficult to dry, the trees are usually girdled to kill them and then left standing for two years to dry out."
Curly Black Walnut
I try to have choices of American woods and woods that aren't protected and scarce, so that people will be able to order a guitar they can travel internationally with, without a problem at customs. They also make beautiful sounding and looking guitars!
I bought this set having worked with some Paldao on another guitar, which looked and sounded excellent!
From Tonewood Data Sources:
"An attractive wood from SE Asia ...Paldao is tonally similar to mahogany and produces a warm, lively tone."
I bought this for it's visual appeal, but I've heard good things and expect it work well. I actually have two different sets and now I hear it's not readily available.
From Tonewood Data Sources:
"A beautiful Hawaiian Hardwood...Sound-wise, it may resemble Koa. It's warm, with a deep bass, wide range, drier rather than reverby, will take some pushing but not enough for bluegrass.The wood has a good bright tone similar to Hawaiian koa, dry and crisp."
Since early 20th century parlor guitars were frequently made from birch, I wanted to have some.
From Tonewood Data Sources:
"Long ago, makers used a lot of birch, especially in smaller instruments such as fiddles and mandolins"
Similar sound to Maple.
Different look, but similar to Maple.
Another American wood that has very attractive figure and offers an alternative to foreign woods. Sometimes you may want to build all American!
From Tonewood Database:
"Cherry has a density and reflectivity approaching that of maple, producing a rich, projective midrange and balance without favoring the bass or treble frequencies. Similar to maple but less dry-sounding., clean and articulate, with more sustain and clarity than maple, also more bass and mid-range."
I can never resist a nice set of maple!
Flame Maple matching sets
If you and you're friend want matching guitars, or if you are in a duo and want to match! Very custom!
Honduran Mahogany with heartwood in center. According to Tonewoods Data Source: " Generally woody-sounding, but certain denser sets can approach rosewood"
Different sets for different tastes, but the sound characteristics remain constant.