Every iconic solid-body guitar begins its life the same way—as a simple slab of wood. Since the invention of the electric guitar, many different types of wood have been used across the instrument’s anatomy, with favorites being settled on for bodies, necks, and fingerboards. There is certainly no shortage of intriguing options with different tonal characteristics and aesthetic appeal. Let’s dive into a few of the most common body woods found on solid-body guitars and used across the D’Angelico line.
Famous for being featured on some of the earliest Fenders starting in the mid ‘50s, Alder is an extremely popular, widely-used body wood. It is harvested mainly in Europe, Russia and Northwest Africa. It’s usually used for single wood slab-bodied guitars but is occasionally used for laminate guitars as well. So, why is Alder so great?
Alder bodies are featured on our standard Deluxe Bedford SH, Deluxe Atlantic, and Deluxe Brighton.
Basswood, perhaps the most well-known solid-body wood, is harvested primarily in the USA. Other variants of Basswood are known to grow elsewhere but these are not as commonly used when building guitars. It’s usually white-ish in color, however, it sometimes features unique green mineral streaks. It is beloved by builders and players alike. Here are a few reasons why:
Basswood bodies can be found in our Premier Series on the Atlantic, Brighton, and Bedford SH.
The most opulent and least common of the three woods discussed so far, Swamp Ash is a unique tone wood with more accentuated characteristics. Also known as Soft Ash, its prevalence in the guitar scene demonstrates its popularity. However, guitars with Swamp Ash bodies are generally more expensive as it is more difficult to find and harvest. You’ll tend to find this body wood on higher-end instruments. Swamp Ash was used on Fender guitars until the mid-50s when it was largely replaced with Alder. Its unique tonal characteristics are a result of Swamp Ash being harvested from trees with roots growing below water level, generally found in swamps of southern USA. It generally appears in a cream-like color. To many players, Swamp Ash deserves all the praise it receives for a variety of reasons:
Swamp Ash bodies are featured on the Deluxe Atlantic and Brighton in Vintage Sunburst, complemented by a stunning Flame Maple top.
Mahogany has proven to be a popular wood for building solid body electric guitars as it is featured on one of the most iconic guitars of all time, the Gibson Les Paul. Les Pauls are known for their Mahogany bodies. Mahogany is a tried and true body wood, also occasionally used for necks. Its distinguished tonal and visual characteristics have kept it at the front of the pack when it comes to tone woods. However, despite its popularity Mahogany is somewhat polarizing and has its pros and cons.
Mahogany bodies are available on specific guitars in the Premier Series. You’ll find them on the Premier Atlantic, Brighton, and Bedford SH in Sky Blue.
When choosing an instrument with any of these four body woods, you can’t really go wrong. However, it’s always good to know how the foundation of your guitar will affect its appearance, feel, and tone.