Types of Guitar Neck Wood | 5 Best Choices

Choosing the right types of guitar neck wood can make a big difference in your sound. If the wrong material is chosen to go with a guitar body, the instrument may not sound optimal. Even the wood grain direction plays a large role in performance.

Each type of guitar neck wood sounds different and offers a feel and performance that is not like others. Finding the right balance between neck and body woods can mean better-sounding guitars.

In this article, we are going to look at the different types of woods used in guitar necks. We will also cover the importance of the grain direction and how it can benefit your guitar neck.

types of guitar neck wood

Types of Guitar Neck Wood

There are 3 main types of wood used in guitar necks:

  • Maple
  • Mahogany
  • Rosewood

Each one has unique benefits in both sound and performance. There are a few other types as well which include Koa, Ebony and Wenge. This can make it hard to choose just one, especially if you are not sure how they are different.

One wood type is not better than the other, however, they are different and add to the complexity of tonal characteristics. Each type has a density that can add brightness or warmth, quick attack, or sustain.

And in addition to this, combining different wood types between neck and fretboard also has a great effect on sound and strength.

Let’s take a look at some key differences between the guitar neck wood types.

Maple

Maple is a hardwood that is found in North America and Europe. It is dense, which makes it a good choice for guitar necks.

It’s a bright wood with a fast attack and a good deal of sustain, and is a popular choice for many players. Fender uses this wood type in their instrument necks as it provides a bright, twangy sound perfect for Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars.

Mahogany

Mahogany is another hardwood that is commonly used in guitar necks. It has a high density as well and is found in many parts of the world.

It provides a warm, fat tone with a slow attack and tons of resonance. This makes it perfect for blues and jazz styles, among others. Many guitars use mahogany necks for this reason.

Rosewood

Rosewood is a hardwood that is also often used as a fretboard material. It is found in Latin America, Africa, and parts of Asia.

It has a warm sound with great sustain. This makes it perfect for players who want a mellower sound. Rosewood is typically used in acoustic guitars.

Koa

Koa is a Hawaiian wood that is becoming increasingly popular in guitar necks. It has a high density and is found only on the Hawaiian islands.

It delivers a very balanced tone with perfect sustain. Koa is great for those who want a versatile guitar with a wide range of sounds. It is often used in acoustic guitars as well and is very articulate.

Ebony

Ebony is a harder wood that is found in Africa and parts of Asia. It has a very high density, making it one of the hardest woods used in guitar necks.

It produces a very bright sound with lots of resonance and great attack. This makes it perfect for players who want a cutting, articulate sound with a tight bass response. Ebony is regularly used in electric as well as acoustic guitars.

Neck Wood Density

The density of the wood used in a guitar neck is important as it can add to the sustain, brightness, or warmth of the sound.

A piece of maple, for example, will be much denser than that of mahogany. This is because mahogany is a softer wood.

The density of the wood will also affect the weight of the guitar neck. A maple neck, for example, will be heavier than one made from mahogany.

When the grains in a piece of wood are closer together, the stronger it is. This is especially important in preventing twisting.

Another thing to note is that the thickness of the guitar neck can also affect the sound. A thick neck will add more mass to the instrument and therefore sustain. A thin one will be more responsive and have a quicker attack.

The type of wood used in the guitar neck is not the only factor that affects the sound, but it is an important one. The density, weight, and thickness of the neck all play a role in the tone of the instrument as well as the strength.

When choosing a guitar neck, consider the type of music you want to play. If you want a bright, twangy sound, then a maple neck might be the best choice. If you prefer a warm, fat tone, then a mahogany neck is a better choice.

Wood Grain Direction

The wood grain direction is also a big factor in how your guitar neck sounds and the strength it offers. The way the wood grain is aligned can affect performance.

If the grain is aligned parallel to the strings, it will add brightness and sustain. This is called quarter sawn.

If the grain is aligned perpendicular to the strings, it is called flat sawn and is slightly warmer.

Knowing which direction the wood grain is aligned can help you achieve the sound you are looking for in your guitar.

Quarter-Sawn vs Flat Sawn Guitar Necks

The debate between quarter vs flat sawn guitar necks has been going on for years. It is important to know the difference between the two before you decide which is best for you.

The main difference between a quarter and flat sawn guitar neck is that one is much stronger than the other. Quarter sawn necks are 50% more stable than any other cutting method.

Quarter sawn necks are made by slicing the log into 4 parts. The boards used for necks are then cut from each quarter. This leaves the grain running parallel to the length of the neck.

Flat sawn necks are made by cutting boards from the log without first quartering it. In this case, the grain is running perpendicular to the length.

There are pros and cons to each type of neck.

Quarter sawn necks are more stable because the grain is running parallel to the length. This makes them less likely to warp or twist over time.

Flat sawn necks are less stable because the grain is running perpendicular to the length. This makes them more likely to warp or twist over time.

Some players prefer the stability of a quarter sawn guitar neck because it prevents bowing. While others prefer the warmer sound of a flat sawn neck. Quarter sawn necks are also more expensive than conventionally cut wood.

Conclusion

The type of wood used in a guitar neck is important because it can affect the sound and the strength. Whether you want a bright, twangy sound or a warm, fat tone, the neck wood is a big factor.

The density, weight, and grain direction also play a role in comfort and stability. So when deciding on your guitar neck wood type, make sure to know what you need. It’s not just about sound, but performance as well.

FAQs

What wood is best for guitar necks?

One wood type is not better than another, they are simply different. If you are looking for a bright, twangy sound, then a maple neck is great. If you want a warm, fat tone, then a mahogany neck is a better option.

What are most guitar necks made out of?

Most guitar necks are made of maple or mahogany. These are very common choices made by manufacturers are they sound good, are easy to source, and are not overly heavy.

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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear. I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!