What You Need To Know About Alder Vs Mahogany Wood

As a musician you have a lot of options when it comes to choosing the right type of tonewood for your next instrument.

There’s Rosewood, Maple, Basswood and Purpleheart – plus many more besides. And what makes this specific range of wood types so special is in the way that they resonate.

It’s why the specific type of tonewood you choose matters. The density of different hardwoods can have a noticeable effect on wood the tonal property of an instrument.

Which brings us to two popular tonewood timbers; Mahogany and Alder.

Alder (or to be more specific, Red Alder when it comes to guitars) is a mid-priced and medium-weight tonewood that offers up a good balance of both hefty mids and superb low frequencies. Which is why it is a go-to choice for blues and rock music.

Mahogany woods higher density, on the other hand, makes for a heavier instrument. But it’ll still give you a subdued mid range sound.

Both of these hardwoods can make for great midrange guitars. But how do they stack up when pitted against each other?…

What You Need To Know About Alder Vs Mahogany Wood

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Alder Wood

Key Features

  • Guitar Body Average Weight: 28lbs.
  • Wood Density: 530 kg/m³.
  • Optimal Range: Upper Mids.
  • Wood Appearance: Reddish-brown tint.

Is Alder A Good Wood For Guitars?

Yes, it is… especially if you are looking for a blues and rock sound out of your guitar.

Plus, it is no slouch when it comes to those high frequencies too. Making it enough of a versatile choice for people who like to play a range of different music genres.

Now, raw Alder wood is infamously difficult to add stain color too. But, when it comes to finishing Alder guitars, this straight-grained lumber needs little prep. Instead, it can be easily finished with oils such as Tru-oil or Danish oil.

Related Post: What You Need To Know About Danish Oil vs Tru Oil

Does Alder Wood Change Color Over Time?

Alder wood doesn’t significantly darken as it ages. Although, if it is stored in an area that exposes it to a lot of sunlight, those UV rays can lighten the hue of Alder.

Okay, So Why Is Alder Wood Used For Guitars?

It is a great tonewood for producing a robust bold sound with superb sustain.

Add to that the fact that this is a great wood for all-round sound – without boxing you into a specific style of play.

So, Why Should I Choose Alder Wood?

Alder would is superb for all-rounders looking to perfect a range of playing styles. It is also very affordable and lightweight.

But, it is not a very visually appealing wood. Which is why people often opt to paint over it.

And if you do want to focus on a specific music genre, there is probably a better choice tonewood out there for it.

What You Need To Know About Alder Vs Mahogany Wood

Mahogany Wood

Key Features

  • Guitar Body Average Weight: 40lbs.
  • Wood Density: 560 kg/m³.
  • Optimal Range: Low Mid and Bass.
  • Wood Appearance: Reddish with an orange tint.

Is Mahogany Wood Good For Guitars?

Yes, especially if you want a guitar that can really carry those low overtones.

It is also a durable wood type too, and is commonly used to make the backs and sides of guitars.

Is Mahogany More Expensive Than Alder?

Per board, raw Mahogany is more expensive than Alder. In fact, it is in the upper price range for hardwood boards in general.

However, when it comes to Mahogany vs Alder guitar price, there is very little that separate the two. Although Mahogany guitars do tip the price scales a little more in their favor.

Are Mahogany Guitars Durable?

Yes, this dense wood doesn’t crack under pressure, making it ideal as a top wood.

Related Post: Can You Use Teak Oil On Mahogany? (Or Is This Oil Finish All Hype?)

So, Why Should I Choose Mahogany?

Well, besides getting it simply for its great sound, Mahogany just looks fantastic. You aren’t going to want to paint over the natural grain of this wood.

However, it is heavier than Alder wood. And the sound this wood produces isn’t as sharp as Alder.


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The perceptual effects of tonewood choice for the back/side plates of the steel-string acoustic guitar: The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America: Vol 140, No 4 (scitation.org)