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Martin Guitar Tonewoods

The beauty of the Acoustic Guitar is it’s simplicity. Rather than having an array of cables, stomp boxes, power amps and speaker cabinets, nothing stands between you and your sound except for the strings and the wood. The specific species of wood and the combinations in which they’re put together have the greatest impact on the sound of your guitar. Looking for something dry and woody, harmonically rich and resonant or anywhere in between, there is a wood combination for you. If you find yourself needing some guidance while learning about Martin Tonewoods, never hesitate to give us a call or email. It’s what we’re here for!

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    Highly resonant, with full, deep basses and brilliant trebles.  Rare, expensive, though occasionally available on limited edition and custom models.

    Thick, punchy bass, strong mids, good overtones.  Sources of supply have been well managed, reliable and of consistently high quality.

    The closest approximation of Brazilian Rosewood available on the market today. Deep, rumbling basses paired with a sparkling high end make Madagascar Rosewood one of the most desirable tone woods offered in the Martin line.

    A dense, responsive tone wood. providing a well balanced tone that pairs a solid low end with plenty of shimmer on the highs. A beautiful rich grain with plenty of depth make Cocobolo one of the best looking Martin tone woods.

    Dry, bright and snappy.  Very little overtones.  Much lighter in weight than rosewood, koa or maple. Yields a surprisingly strong, loud sound with an emphasis on clear, bright airy trebles.

    Similar in appearance and tone to Genuine Mahogany, Sapele exhibits a powerful midrange, great punch and bright and airy trebles.

    Sterile - softer and quieter than real wood.

    As a species Siris is related to and shares many tonal characteristics with Koa. Siris offers a clear, balanced tone which falls somewhere between Rosewood and Mahogany in both volume and amount of overtones.

    Very plain souding ... heavy mids and no overtones.  Bass response slightly less than East Indian Rosewood and treble response a bit less than genuine mahogany.  Balanced, clear tone is only outshone by the beauty of its honey-rippled grain.

    FSC® tone woods are woods approved by the Forest Stewardship Council.  FSC® Certification means the player can be assured that the materials in their instrument are responsibly harvested and managed, with care and concern given to the environmental impact as well as the rights of the workers and local communities involved with the harvesting. 

    A sustainable tone wood similar to Rosewood both in tone and in looks.  Ovangkol has the same developed bass and treble as Rosewood while also offering a slightly fuller mid-range.  Aesthetically Ovangkol can range from a crisp straight grain to a beautiful silk texture. 

    Between koa and mahogany.  Density and reflectivity approach that of maple.  Cherry produces a rich, projective midrange and balance without favoring the bass or treble frequencies.  Vibrant, beautiful grain.

    Extremely vibrant providing an ideal "diaphragm" for transmission of sound on any size and style of stringed instrument.  Primary top wood for Martin guitars.  Chosen for its straight, uniform grain, longevity and tensile strength. 

    Please NOTE: Martin is using Lutz Spruce in place of Sitka at their discretion since November 2022. Click here to read about Lutz Spruce.

    Prized for its similarity in color to European (German) white spruce as well as its extreme lightness in weight which seems to produce a slightly louder, more projective or "open" sound than Sitka spruce.

    Trees grow very slowly at such high elevations that the annual rings are generally closely and evenly spaced.  Wood is light enough to withstand the tension of steel strings.  Attributes similar to red spruce, it's powerful, clear and vibrant.

    Adirondack spruce (also known as Red spruce) has characteristics similar to high elevation European alpine spruce.  Adirondack spruce was abundant in the 1930s and used on Martin guitars of that era.  Its extraordinary tone, prized for its projection and tonal clarity, has created a resurgence of demand for Adirondack spruce.

    Ziricote hails from the forests of Central America. It is quite similar to Guatemalan rosewood in its visual beauty and the physical properties that create the same sort of tonal warmth and overtone complexity. The dramatic patterns naturally occurring in this tropical American hardwood can be outrageously gorgeous.

    Martins made with mutenye put out nice, solid bass, with clear, musical mids and trebles and a modicum of overtones. It is a nicely affordable solid tonewood alternative to rosewood, while having very pretty grain patterns that feature stripes and sometimes rippling, at times with considerable variation between the highlights and darker hues.

    Lutz spruce is a hybrid of Sitka spruce and white spruce from Alaska and British Columbia. It is quite similar to Sitka spruce, but often provides greater volume and can achieve an attack ceiling that rivals Adirondack spruce. Lutz spruce was often misidentified as Sitka spruce, until it was classified by the late Harold J. Lutz, professor of forestry at Penn State University, who discovered this natural hybrid while working for the U.S. Forestry Service in Alaska. 

    Lutz spruce has been used by many guitarmakers for years. Martin has adopted it recently because of the severe spruce bark beetle epidemic, which decimated the forests that traditionally provided most of the guitar world’s Sitka spruce soundboards. Lutz spruce is being used interchangeably with Sitka spruce throughout the Martin product line.

    Guatemalan rosewood is known to be among the most comparable tonewoods to Brazilian rosewood. It is slightly lighter and less dense, making it perfect for a smaller body guitar such as 000. It is rich and warm, with tons of sustain.

    Lustrously pale in hue, like Engelmann, European spruce offers some of the headroom of Adirondack and a quicker response than Sitka. All, of course, share exquisite properties, but European—versatile like its cousins—adds a touch of cedar's warmth, which makes it a favorite of many fingerpickers.

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