Electric Guitar Body WoodsAugust 30, 2018
The electric guitar’s body woods certainly comprise a big portion of the overall acoustic character of the guitar (around half) but less than what many players have been led to think. That being said, the body woods do make a significant difference.
At Cort, we use a variety of different body tonewoods to produce certain kinds of acoustic character for given models of guitars. Some of the body woods on Cort electric guitars are Alder, Basswood, Mahogany, Meranti, Poplar and Swamp Ash and each type of wood has its own distinctive character.
In general, body woods are of the softer variety and are not stiff enough to be used for necks. The neck wood must withstand the tension of the strings over a narrow length so stiff woods like Maple are commonly used. We will now examine the different body woods used on various Cort electric guitars, so you can have a general understanding of what each body wood looks and sounds like.
Alder is a popular body wood that’s been a mainstay of bolt-on solidbody guitars since 1960’s. Visually, it is brownish in color and has wide grains. Tonally, it has a big full sound with a nicely balanced midrange. It matches up well with Maple necks with either Maple or Rosewood/Ebony/Pau Ferro fretboards for a versatile sound that suits all types of musical styles and genres.
A popular body tonewood often used in guitars maximized for high-gain shred in the 1980’s, Basswood has an emphasis on the lower midrange. It matches up extremely well with a solid Maple top (figured or plain), which tightens up the low-end with a cutting high-midrange. Light in weight, its plain looks make it ideal for solid color finishes.
Often used on set-neck guitars with the shorter 24.75” scale, Mahogany has a brownish look and is porous in nature compared to other types of body woods or Maple. Mahogany has a distinctive mid-midrange character with plenty of “bark” and “honk” that 50’s set-neck solidbody guitars are known for. It also matches up well with a solid Maple top.
A species of the Mahogany family of woods, Meranti is found in Southeast Asia and has visual and tonal characteristics that are reminiscent of the Mahogany woods from Central and South America. Used on lower cost guitars due to its wider availability, Meranti is an excellent tonewood with the acoustic character of Mahogany that provides a full and cutting midrange and looks good in both natural color or finished in various solid colors.
Poplar is similar to Alder in sound although not as attractive looking, making it better for solid color finishes. Like Alder, it has a full and balanced midrange. It is lower in cost due to its wide availability and is thus often used on lower cost guitars. Still, Poplar is a very good sounding wood that will suit a variety of playing styles and musical genres.
Often used on premium grade guitars due to its striking grain patterns, Swamp Ash has a snappy tactile character and emphasizes the high midrange. It is brighter in sound with more punch than most other woods used for electric guitar bodies but still has plenty of warmth in the overall sonic spectrum. It also mates well with Maple tops and Maple necks with Maple fretboard, making it a very versatile tonewood for virtually any musical style.