There is no one answer to what kind of wood acoustic guitars are made of. This is because different types of wood can be used, and many acoustic guitars feature multiple types of wood.
What Type Of Wood Are Acoustic Guitars Made Of?
This varies from guitar to guitar, but one important distinction is between solid and laminate wood.
Solid wood means a single piece of wood was used for either the top and/or sides of the guitar. Laminate wood is generally of a lower quality, made from several layers of wood that are glued together. While the sound quality is subjective, it is overall agreed upon by guitarists that laminate top acoustic guitars do not sound as good as those with solid top construction.
Acoustic guitars can also be made of a combination of solid and laminate woods, such as a solid top with laminate back and sides, which is going to produce a higher quality sound in general than an acoustic guitar with a laminated top.
Different types of wood are used for guitars, as well. For instance, a common combination is a solid spruce top with mahogany back and sides. However, there are several other types, and they offer their own unique sound quality. This is why musicians refer to the wood used to construct an acoustic guitar as a tonewood.
Are All Acoustics Made Of Wood?
In the sense of a traditional acoustic guitar, all of them are made out of wood. However, there are some variations on this.
One example is the resonator guitar, which is a form of acoustic guitar that uses metal cones to produce the sound, instead of the wood top like on traditional acoustic guitar.
The reason for using materials like metal instead of wood are to produce different types of sounds. However, resonator guitars are not nearly as popular as those made of solely wood.
Types Of Wood Used
As mentioned previously, multiple types of wood can be used for an acoustic guitar. The main concern is what type of wood is used for the top. With this in mind, let’s go over some of the wood types used and examples of them in acoustic guitars.
Spruce top guitars are described as having a warm tone that works well with many types of music. They can be either a solid spruce top, or a laminate construction.
The Martin LX1 Little Martin is a good example of an acoustic guitar with a solid Sitka spruce top and laminated back and sides. It is a smaller form-factor instrument, good for younger players or beginners, as well as those who have been playing for a while.
For example, Ed Sheeran is known for using 3/4 sized acoustic guitars despite being a professional musician and certainly no beginner. The guitar produces clean, warm tones that work well for folk, pop, country, etc.
Another example at an entry-level price is the Yamaha FG800, featuring a solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides. Yamaha is well known for making quality instruments so if you are after an affordable and good-sounding instrument, this is a great option.
Mahogany provides much deeper, richer tones than spruce does when used as a top material. Those after a resonant sound with great sustain should look at mahogany top guitars.
The Fender CD-60S All-Mahogany is an acoustic guitar featuring a solid mahogany top and laminated mahogany back and sides. It is affordable and of course, comes with the great reputation that Fender has as a guitar manufacturer. Although they are mostly known for their electric guitars, they did make an entire line of acoustics in addition to this mahogany example.
The Martin X Series X-X1E is another guitar that features a mahogany top with a laminated back and sides at a more premium price point. This is another great choice for getting deeper, rich tones from an acoustic guitar. It is also an acoustic-electric instrument, meaning it can be plugged in for greater amplification.
Cedar is a wood that is overall less stiff than other types, meaning it is better to be played lightly. This makes it a good choice for those who play fingerstyle guitar, where plucking strings more delicately is of utmost importance.
Takamine makes a solid cedar top acoustic guitar with mahogany back and sides called the GD20-NS, a mid-range choice in the price for a solid cedar top. Another good option is the Cordoba C7 CD, a classical guitar with a solid cedar top and rosewood back and sides.
Given that fingerstyle is commonly used in classical guitar, it comes as no surprise cedar tops would be used for them. You do not have to play classical-style guitar or even fingerstyle to choose a cedar top acoustic guitar, however. Like the aforementioned Takamine, there are non-classical style acoustic guitars that use cedar.
A rarer top material is maple, which generally provides bright tones.
The Ibanez AEG70 is an acoustic-electric guitar at an affordable price with a maple top and Sapele back and sides. A premium, professional option comes from Taylor in the form of the entirely maple American Dream AD27E.
This is just a short overview of some of the most common woods used for acoustic guitars. There are many more, rarer and exotic types.
The best way to find out what you like is to try out acoustic guitars yourself. You might think you want a spruce top, for instance, but fall in love with the tones that come from a mahogany top.
You can also look at the acoustic guitars played by famous musicians whose sound you want to be able to reproduce to get a better idea of the type of tonewood that would best suit you.
While laminated tops are generally thought of as a lower-quality option, do not rule these out if you like the way they sound, but remember there are solid top options out there that can be had at a beginner price point.