Tonewood Reference

At Grosh Guitars, we are continually in search of the finest old growth tone woods available. We use nothing but the highest quality, master grade materials. These precious materials are the foundation of the tonal magic our guitars produce. All tone woods are aged and seasoned in our shop for maximum tonal complexity and structural stability.

Grosh Guitars has very specific criteria for every piece of wood we use in our instruments. We tap and listen to each piece, weigh it, visually inspect it and discard any material that does not meet our stringent standards. We specifically select wood of certain weights and density depending on whether it will be used on a solid body, semi-hollow or full-hollow instrument. This is done to maintain tonal balance and complexity. We also tonally “tap match” the materials for every instrument to make sure they produce the quality and resonance needed to produce the full, rich and complex tones for which Grosh Guitars is known. Our careful selection of the highest quality tone woods is one of the many differences that elevates Grosh Guitars as one of the premier builders of fine instruments today!

Please use this reference to help you decide what you would like your Grosh Guitar to sound like. Understand that wood, by its very nature, is complex and varies from one piece to the next. That is why it is crucial to work with a luthier that understands this and can best use its variability to produce the tone you desire. The following descriptions are general in scope and based upon our experience.

Body Woods

Alder – Most commonly used in bolt-on neck guitars like our Retro Classic models. This is the body wood used on most late 50’s/early 60’s California guitars. It has a full robust midrange with good harmonic content to remain clear. The attack is smooth but crisp. It also takes just about any finish color well. It is the most versatile sounding body wood for our Retro Classic and ElectraJet models, especially when using a humbucker pickup in the bridge position. Visually it has less grain compared to ash.

Swamp Ash – Used on early to mid 50’s bolt-on neck guitars, Swamp Ash has a more pronounced grain pattern that is very attractive and works great with transparent finishes. Tonally, Swamp Ash has a full bottom end with a clear extended top end. The mids are more “scooped” than Alder. It also has more attack and snap compared to Alder. We are very particular in selecting Swamp Ash for tonal and weight factors. Swamp Ash looks great with any of our transparent or Mary Kaye finishes. Swamp Ash is a great option for a 3-single coil guitar. If you’re opting for a humbucker in the bridge, Alder is a better choice.

Mahogany – More commonly used in set neck style instruments, but also featured in our Bent Top, Flat Top and Carve Top bolt-on models. We use the highest quality, master grade Mahogany available. This premium tone wood has a tight even grain structure. Tonally, it has a smooth and rich attack with warm bass, strong mid’s and a sweet and clear top end. It works great by itself or combined with a top wood like Maple for a complex tone combination. This is also another material that we carefully select for tone and weight.

Figured Maple – We use only the highest quality, master grade AAAAA flame and quilt Maple tops for our guitar. Flame and quilt Maple is very beautiful and adds to the visual appeal of an instrument. Maple has strong mids and a clear top end. Most commonly combined with a Mahogany body, a Maple top adds quickness, snap and clarity to the attack and tone of the guitar. Highly-figured AAAAA flame and quilt Maple tops are standard on our Set Neck, Bent Top Custom, Flat Top Custom and Carve Top Custom models.

Sitka Spruce – We offer Sitka Spruce tops on hollow Set Neck guitar models as an option. Sitka Spruce is stiff like Maple, but softer and lighter. Commonly used for acoustic guitar tops, it has a softer sound and more complex sustain compared to a Maple top. Used on our full-hollow Set Neck model (the “DG-293”), it brings balance and complexity to the instrument.

Koa – Beautifully-figured Hawaiian Koa can be used as a top material in place of a Maple top. Koa has plenty of attack but is warmer and slightly less bright compared to Maple.

Neck Woods

Eastern Hard Rock Maple – Standard on all bolt-on neck models, either as a solid one-piece neck or combined with a rosewood fingerboard. We use only premium, straight grain old growth Rock Maple. Highly-figured flame or birdseye Maple is available as an option. Maple has a bell like tone with great attack, snap and note definition. The upper harmonics are more pronounced and complex. When a maple neck is combined with rosewood fingerboard, the result is a softer attack and a robust and warm mid-range. We use solid, one-piece maple for all maple fingerboard instruments. We also use various fingerboard materials in combination with it.

Mahogany – Mahogany is prized for it’s tight grain, stability and tone. It is the material of choice in our Set Neck models and is available as an option on our Maple Top, Bolt-On Neck models. As a neck material, Mahogany is rounder, softer and fuller than Maple. It has more warmth, smoother mid range and less treble snap than Maple. We use various Rosewoods as fingerboard material with Mahogany necks.

East Indian Rosewood – Fingerboards made from East Indian Rosewood have a smooth attack and a nice, round tone. With a full bottom end, strong midrange and warm top end, East Indian Rosewood fingerboards are very versatile. Indian Rosewood is medium to dark brown in color.

Certified Brazilian Rosewood – Highly sought-after for its tone, figure and rarity, Brazilian Rosewood is considered to be a supreme choice for a fingerboard. It was used on many of the prized “Vintage” guitars from the 50’s. Because of its status as an endangered species, Brazilian Rosewood must be obtained from legal sources and be “CITES” certified (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). The CITES certification means that the wood was not poached and has been certified by the Brazilian Government as being legally acquired. We only use CITES-certified, master grade Brazilian Rosewood on our guitars. Each instrument we build with Brazilian Rosewood comes with a passport documenting its legality. Grosh Guitars is one of the few remaining guitar builders that uses fully-certified Brazilian Rosewood!

Brazilian Rosewood runs in deep browns, to reddish hues to figures of a greenish character. Tonally, it has more attack and snap than East Indian Rosewood. It runs in a wider harmonic range than East Indian as well. We carefully tap select and tap match our Brazilian Rosewood fingerboards for every instrument we produce.

Madagascar Rosewood – This material is visually much like Brazilian Rosewood but sonically more comparable to East Indian Rosewood

Ebony – Prized for its tight grain and fluid feel, it offers a tight, crisp attack without much bottom warmth. For that reason, we do not prefer to use it as fingerboard material as it has a tendency to make the instrument more strident than we like. It also has a tendency to be a bit unstable. We do, however, like to use it as a headstock overlay on the Set Neck guitars for its color and smooth look. Visually, it runs from black to black with slight “chocolate” streaks.



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