The materials that are used in production influence the way that an instrument will sound and feel. The wide range of guitars available in the modern music scene can make it difficult to know what every guitar and its components are made of and which materials make for the best-sounding instrument.
Most guitars are made from woods with metal and some plastic components. Various woods are used to create the main components of the instrument, while metal and plastic parts make up the hardware. Some guitars are made from materials such as carbon fiber and feature exotic materials such as pearl.
Knowing what a guitar is made of brings a better understanding of the instrument as a whole. If you understand what the instrument is made of, you will know how to get the best sound possible from those materials. Let’s take the time to explore the different materials used for making guitars and why these materials are so important.
The Most Common Materials Used For Guitars
Modern guitars are somewhat different from guitars of the past, and the rise of many various modern materials has changed the way guitars are constructed and the way the instrument sounds overall.
Guitars are now made from a wide range of materials, including very expensive and rare materials on high-end instruments and inexpensive materials used on more affordable instruments.
Every material included in the construction of a guitar influences its sound and the way it feels to play. Many guitar makers and luthiers have experimented with various guitar building materials, and over the years, a definite distinction has been made between materials that make good guitars and those that do not.
Every guitar manufacturer and every luthier has their own preferred materials and building techniques, but there are materials that are a common thread in almost every type of guitar, regardless of style or functionality.
With that being said, there are some exotic materials used for these instruments as well, so let’s begin by learning about the most commonly used materials in guitar construction, as well as some exotic examples of guitar materials.
The most common material used for making guitars is wood. The types, quality, density, feel, and resonance of wood vary widely in guitar making, but almost every guitar is made primarily from the wood of some kind.
The largest and most important components of guitars are usually made from wood, as wood is a material that resonates well and helps produce the sound of the instrument.
Some woods resonate better than others, so only the best quality woods are used for high-end guitars, while cheaper, less resonant woods and wood combinations are used on entry-level instruments.
Wood is the main material used on most types of electric and acoustic guitars, regardless of the manufacturer.
Along with various woods, metals are another significant component in the construction of most guitars. Almost every type of guitar from anywhere in the world these days will have some form of metal used somewhere on the instrument.
Meatal is an ideal material for various components on the guitar as it is hard-wearing, easy to find, simple to manufacture, and can be used at relatively inexpensive costs.
Not all metals are equal, and every metal has its own characteristics, flaws, and strengths, which means that a range of metals are used for manufacturing guitars, and various components on the instrument may be made from different metals depending on the role of the component in the guitar.
Plastic is another material that is commonly found in modern guitars, but the more plastic components the guitar, the worse the instrument typically is.
Small, unimportant components of high-end guitars may be made from plastic, but the non-resonant nature of this material combined with the low price means that it is most commonly found on very cheap guitars.
Plastic has its place in the construction of modern guitars, but it is not typically found much on high-end instruments.
Wood, metal, and plastics are typically used in making guitars, but there are some other materials used for these instruments that do not fall into these categories.
Some of the more exotic materials used for guitar making in the modern world include carbon fiber, gold, silver, pearl, perspex, and specialized proprietary alloys.
Uncommon materials are only typically used on custom guitars, signature guitars, or very high-end guitars that are sold for very high prices.
What Is The Guitar’s Body Made Of?
Every guitar is unique, but there are some materials that are found in most guitars. We have already identified the most common and some uncommon materials used for guitar building, but now let’s explore some of the specific components of guitars and the materials that they are made from, beginning with the guitar body.
The body of the guitar is among the most important components of the instrument. The body is where the strings attach, and the body is what gives a guitar its resonation, enhancing the sound of the instrument.
Acoustic guitar bodies are especially important, as the body of an acoustic guitar amplifies the sound of the strings. This makes the material that the body of a guitar is made from crucial for the sound and playability of the instrument.
Most guitar bodies are made from some type of wood. The type of wood varies depending on the quality and price of the instrument, as well as the exact type of guitar.
Electric guitar bodies are less important than acoustic guitar bodies and are therefore not typically made from woods that are as resonant as those used for the bodies of acoustic guitars.
Guitar bodies can be made from maple, mahogany, ash, rosewood, koa, walnut, basswood, spruce, Agathis, alder, poplar, and even holly woods. Very inexpensive guitars are made from composite woods, pine, and various laminate woods.
Guitar bodies may not appear to be made from wood if they are painted, but most guitar bodies are wooden. Some wooden guitar bodies are finished with clear sealant or varnishes that allow the wood grain to be visible, but this is only true for guitars made with good cuts of wood.
Not all guitar bodies are made from wood, however, as some are constructed from carbon fiber, plastics, composites, perspex, and other man-made materials.
The body of a guitar is among the most critical components, but this instrument is comprised of several parts made from various materials. Let’s move on to some of the other components of guitars to find out what they are made from.
What Is The Guitar’s Neck Made Of?
After the body of a guitar, the neck is the next most important component of the instrument regarding feel and resonant tone. The neck of a guitar must be well-crafted to allow the guitarist the best access to the frets, and it must be made to resonate well and seat correctly with the body.
Almost all guitar necks, even if the body is made from another type of material, are usually made from one or more types of wood, with a little metal thrown in for the frets.
The woods used for the neck of the instrument and the fretboard are usually different, and the neck should allow some flex and resonance, while the fretboard should be very hard, dense, and hard-wearing to sustain the damage caused by playing the guitar.
Woods such as ash, maple, koa, alder, and spruce are commonly used for guitar necks, while maple, rosewood, mahogany, and various dark woods are widely used for fretboards.
With that being said, several guitar makers have experimented with metals, allows, and other materials for fretboards over the years, especially for those guitars that are designed to be fretless, where the tone of the instrument will come from the fingerboard where the strings are pressed.
Almost all guitar necks and fretboards are wooden. Some necks are painted to match the body of the guitar, while others are sealed or varnished, and some are left natural for certain playing preferences.
The construction of the guitar neck is usually carried through to the headstock of the guitar, which means that most headstocks are made from the same wood as the neck of the instrument.
The construction of guitar necks, headstocks, and fretboards is usually very similar to acoustic and electric guitars.
What Are Guitar Strings Made Of?
The instrument’s neck and body are vital, but the guitar would be useless without strings. The strings of the guitar are the main source of sound and tone, and without the right materials, they will sound terrible or simply not function for playing at all.
Guitar strings must be held in high tension over long periods of time, and they must be able to withstand that tension without wavering too much, or the instrument will not stay in tune. The strings must also sound good and work well for the type of guitar they are used on.
This makes the material that the strings are made from the most important material on any guitar.
Electric guitar strings are typically made from one or two metals that are made to be magnetic and hard-wearing while providing a lot of resonance, playability, and tone.
These strings are usually made from steel and nickel, but some strings use more exotic materials such as cobalt. These strings must be magnetic to function with the magnetic pickups in the electric guitar.
Acoustic guitar strings do not need to be magnetic, but they must resonate well and sound excellent as there is no way to alter the output sound of the guitar. These strings are usually made from nickel, steel, bronze, or a combination of these metals.
Classical acoustic guitar strings were once made from gut, but modern versions of these strings are made from nylon, and the thickest strings are made from nickel with a twisted or woven nylon fabric core.
The thickness of guitar strings determines how they feel to play and what they sound like. All guitar strings must be made with care and designed well, or they will not allow the instrument to sound as good as it should.
What Is Guitar Hardware Made Of?
No guitar is simply made from a body, neck, and strings. Every guitar requires other components and hardware for tuning, attaching the strings to the guitar, playing notes, adjusting the guitar and its set up, keeping the strings in place, and even changing the pitch of the notes while playing.
Guitar hardware is made from various materials depending on the role of the component.
Most guitar tuners are made from stainless steel, the nut of most guitars is made from plastic, bone, or synthetic bone, and the saddles are made from plastic, stainless steel, or graphite.
Components such as the frets are typically made from steel or nickel, the internal springs of electric guitars are made from steel or steel alloys, and most guitars have some plastic components on them as well. Plastic is often used for truss-rod covers, scratch plates, and the nut or saddle on some guitars.
Every guitar is made from different components depending on what the instrument is used for, what type of guitar it is, who is playing the guitar, and how much the guitar will cost to build.
These components and various pieces of hardware on a guitar make playing it possible, and the materials that these often unnoticed parts are a major contributor to the way a guitar sounds.
Does It Matter What A Guitar Is Made Of?
It may not seem like it, but the material that a guitar is made from is critical. Without good materials that work together in synergy to create resonance, tuning stability, intonation, and playability, the guitar would sound terrible or simply not function at all.
Every small component on a guitar is as important as the larger components, and they must all work together to allow the guitarist to draw sound and music from the instrument.
All the wood that goes into making a guitar must combine well with the hardware, and the materials used in each component must be complementary to the instrument’s overall sound.
A guitar made from poor-quality materials will never sound as good as the same guitar made from high-quality materials; the materials that a guitar is made from define the instrument’s sound.
Guitars are mostly made from wood, and most guitars also feature some metal and plastic components. Every guitar is made differently, and the components and materials used to build it determine the sound and price of the instrument.
Every guitar made from good materials will sound better than one made from inferior materials, so take your time to understand the materials your guitar is made from to get the most out of your instrument!