According to internal statistics of Furch Guitars, the world’s leading maker of premium-quality guitars, most guitar players who bought a guitar last year chose an instrument with a strong sound and pronounced bass, a sonic quality achieved by the combination of a cedar top and mahogany back and sides.

Two Thirds of Sold Guitars Feature a Cedar Top

The overall sound of an acoustic guitar, as well as its appearance, is to a large extent determined by the top plate. The acoustic properties of the top are predetermined by its construction and by the material from which it is made.

In recent years, cedar has been the preferred tonewood for making the top plate. In 2016 alone, nearly two thirds (60%) of customers on the global scale purchased a guitar with a cedar top. Cedar produces a deep warm round sound that is balanced throughout the entire sonic spectrum. Another popular wood species for the guitar top is Sitka spruce (35%), which has a clearer, more open sound and produces more higher-order harmonic overtones compared to cedar.

Much less popular are tops made from exclusive spruce species, such as Alpine (3%), Adirondack (1%), and Engelmann (0.5%) spruce. Other premium tonewoods, such as Sinker Redwood (redwood reclaimed from the depths of rivers), Indian rosewood, maple, mahogany, Hawaiian koa, and black walnut accounted for only 0.5% of guitars sold last year.

“Cedar and Sitka spruce are currently by far the most commonly used woods for acoustic guitar tops. One of the reasons is the fact that high-quality supplies of these tonewoods are readily available for the manufacture of Furch guitars. Only 5% of models we sell feature other materials, which is in part due to their higher price,” explains Petr Furch, CEO of Furch Guitars.

Mahogany Back and Sides

Apart from the top, the sound and look of a guitar are determined by the material used to make the back and sides. In this regard, customers can choose from a much wider selection of tonewoods, where mahogany is the most popular choice – last year more than 40% of guitarists bought a guitar with mahogany back and sides. Mahogany has a pronounced texture, and its homogeneous structure produces a deep musical sound.

The second most in-demand material used in guitars sold in 2016 was Indian rosewood (30%), tonewood featuring an attractive brown-purple color and a visually appealing pattern of growth rings. Rosewood produces a highly balanced sound, which makes it a suitable choice for universal multipurpose instruments.

Many guitarists also opt for a back from mahogany plywood (17%), which produces a surprisingly rich and strong timbre, and black walnut (11%), which offers a beautiful musical sound with ear-pleasing mids and clear highs. Other materials, such as Madagascar rosewood, maple, red cedar, Hawaiian koa, mango, ziricote, African blackwood, padauk, and Engelmann spruce, accounted for only some two percent of the backs and sides of acoustic guitars sold last year. Guitar players mainly choose them for an attractive exotic appearance and a distinctive sound to underscore their musical personality.

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