Are Electric Guitars Made of Wood?

are-electric-guitars-made-of-wood

Even if you’re new to guitars, this is a well-worn topic that will undoubtedly be brought up again and again. That is because it is almost certain that you will hear conversations about various tonewoods and how those tonewoods influence the guitar’s sound. Are you still wondering if electric guitars are made of wood?

Yes. Natural wood is used in the design and construction of the body of an electric guitar. This natural wood makes up approximately 95 percent of an electric guitar’s overall structure. The remaining five percent is either composed of metal or plastic. It’s not just about what you like; you also have to consider how convenient it is and how much it will set you back financially. In addition, wood is a resource that can be acquired in a relatively simple manner.

Certain manufacturers of guitars produce a single component out of a combination of two distinct types of wood. One piece of wood may make up the body of an expensive electric guitar, whereas the bodies of cheaper models are more likely to be assembled from several pieces of wood that have been glued together.

When was the Electric Guitar invented?

Around the year 1936, a jazz guitarist by the name of Charlie Christian (1916-1942) started playing guitar solos in his band using an acoustic guitar that had a pickup attached to the body of the instrument. The electric guitar is said to have been invented around that time.

The modern electric guitar was (mostly) completed in 1960, after a series of groundbreaking instruments were released in the 1950s. There was more experimentation after this date (like using plastic or glass fiber for the body instead of wood, or even developing headless guitars), but these innovations did not gain much traction and were not widely adopted.

What Are the Main Wooden Parts of an Electric Guitar?

The body, the neck (and headstock), and the fingerboard are the three primary wooden components that make up a standard electric guitar. That is because the acoustic guitar, a wooden instrument, served as the foundation for the development of the electric guitar.

Electric wood guitar

Even though the electric guitar’s design has evolved, it has retained many of its predecessor’s characteristics. In light of the guitarists’ growing up, it is only natural for them to have specific expectations of the electric guitars made of wood that they play.

No guitar manufacturer has ever succeeded in changing guitarists’ minds about their preference for the tonewood lends to a guitar. However, guitars can be crafted from a wide range of materials. Guitarists like the tone that wood lends to their instruments.

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What Woods Are Used in the Electric Guitar’s Wooden Parts?

When looking at guitar specifications, you will likely notice that a wide variety of tonewoods are being used in the construction of the instrument. The bodies, necks, and fretboards (fingerboards) of guitars are made from a variety of woods, including basswood, maple, rosewood, Pau Ferro, ebony, mahogany, and swamp ash, as well as some less common types.

The Body

Typically, an electric guitar’s body comprises mahogany, alder, basswood, ash, or maple. Mahogany has excellent resonant qualities and a deep, robust tone. Alder has a midrange to bright tone with moderate resonance.

Basswood has a looser resonance and a more woody tone. The resonance and midrange tones of ash are exceptional. Due to its crispness and clarity, maple is frequently utilized as a veneer over mahogany.

making electric guitar body from wood

The Neck

The neck of a guitar defines its feel and playability and is where the majority of hand contact occurs. The tuning will deteriorate if the neck moves, so it must stay firmly motionless. Mahogany or maple are the two most common kinds of wood used in the construction of the neck of an electric guitar. The tone created by mahogany will be very resonant and deep, whereas the tone produced by maple will be bright and open.

The Fingerboard

Ebony, maple, or rosewood are the typical materials used for the fingerboard. Maple has a tone that is extremely bright and snappy, whereas ebony has a tone that is crisp with warm overtones. Rosewood has a tone that is very warm and rounded. Ebony’s sound is described as a cross between rosewood and maple.

Poplar is one of the other kinds of wood that can be utilized in the manufacturing process of electric guitars. Poplar does not have particularly desirable tonal properties, but it is available at a low cost. Because of this, you’ll typically find it on low-end guitars.

Below Is a Summary of the Wood Types and Their Characteristics.

Guitar partWood typeCharacteristic
The bodyMahogany
Alder
Ash
Basswood
Maple
The tone is rich, with good reverb and low bass.
Midrange to bright tone, average resonance.
Midrange tones but with better resonance.
A deep tone, woodier, and with a looser resonance.
It adds some crispness and clarity.
The neckMahogany
Maple
Resonant and deep.
Bright and open.
The fingerboardEbony
Maple
Rosewood
Crisp with warm hints.
Brighter and snappier.
A warmer, more rounded tone.

What Are Other Components of the Electric Guitar?

Without the aid of electronics and amplification, an electric guitar won’t be able to produce much of a sound. Magnets encased in wire and all-electric guitars utilize pickups to capture the sound of plucked strings. This electronic signal is initially received by an amplifier, which amplifies it further.

hands playing a chord on an electric guitar

In addition, the guitar controls include selector switches, volume knobs, and tone knobs, which allow the player to change the pickups on the instrument. When it comes to the bodies of electronic instruments, some cavities hold potentiometers, switches, and other components in various configurations.

Metal is used for these parts most of the time, but on occasion, plastic can be used instead. The tremolo bridges found on guitars are loaded with springs and housed inside the instrument cavity.

Does Wood Matter for an Electric Guitar?

The electric guitar community is split on the amount of wood that must be used for an electric guitar because the tone of an electric guitar is largely determined by the pickups and electronics installed in the instrument. Some guitarists believe that the woods used in electric guitars do not affect the instrument’s sound, while others disagree. Even if they oscillate back and forth, all guitarists ultimately conclude this.

Wood and other materials are used to construct electric guitars. Our attachment to them is misplaced; they’re simply the result of clever engineering by guitar companies who know what our tastes are.

It’s a good idea to research the woods and other materials used in its construction before making a purchase. That is regardless of whether the guitarist believes that tonewoods are important for the sound of an electric guitar. To make an informed decision about guitars, you need to know what’s happening in this industry.

Conclusion

Wood is the primary material used in constructing electric guitars, but these instruments also have metal and plastic components. Because of this, we strongly suggest that you conduct additional research into the types of wood that produce the best tones for electric guitars to achieve the most suitable tone for your playing style.

Sourav Biswas

Music is my life and I love to play guitar so much. It's been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a musical family, and my parents were always supportive of my passion for music. I am also a freelance writer who has been writing for over 10 years. I have written for both online and offline publications, including Amazon and Medium.

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