Guitar Making Tip No. 47 – Standard Grade Wood

Guitar Making Tip No. 47 is about standard grade wood. On your first guitar, there are several benefits to using standard grade wood. It will make the process easier, less stressful, and more enjoyable. Here is why.

Standard Grade Guitar Making Wood

guitar making tip number 47In the guitar making industry, wood is classified into categories. These categories are based on the look and quality of the board. Boards that have more of the features that guitar makers and customer are looking for are classed higher than those without.

In all of the classification methods, nothing is mentioned about the sound of the wood. There is no way to classify wood based on how well it will sound on a guitar, because that’s all up to the maker. Wood grading is more about the look than anything else.

Also, wood is graded on rarity too. Highly figured pieces are rare, which is why they are more expensive than regular pieces. The grading has nothing to do with the sound quality, it has everything to do with the look and the rarity.

There are several benefits to using standard grade wood on your first few builds…

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Standard Grade Wood is Less Stressful

Standard grade wood is easier to purchase, which makes the build less expensive. In the beginning, the expense of the wood does matter, because it adds stress to the build. When you are about to do an unfamiliar step, the cost of the materials comes into play.

When you are trying to bend a set of sides that are $200, there is a much higher stress level than when bending a set of $40 sides. If you make a mistake with the less expensive wood, the burden to get started again is fairly low in comparison.

Simply using less expensive materials means that you will not have to worry about making mistakes as much. This is great, because when you work from a less worried perspective, you make better decisions and you do better work.

Related: 25 Simple Ways to Customize Your Guitar Without Altering the Tone

Standard Grade Guitar Wood is Easier to Work With

In general, standard grade wood is easier to work with than higher grade wood. Especially when you get into figured wood, which is much more difficult in some cases, working with standard grade wood will be easier.

Highly figured pieces of wood are harder to work with. The grain runs in all directions, and the pieces work differently. If you are new to woodworking too, and you are learning your tools, adding the extra difficulty layer of figured wood is not necessary.

In the beginning, there is already a lot to learn. Adding anything extra to the mix is just not a good idea. If you are already experienced in woodworking, and working with exotic woods, then you already know how to deal with the differences. Until then, use standard grade.

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High End Wood is Much More Expensive

When you compare the prices of standard wood and high end wood, there is a huge difference in cost. The high end of anything will always command a higher price, and it is typically not proportionate to the performance of the higher end piece.

In general, a master grade board can be five times the price of a standard grade board, and in some cases many more times than that. The performance of the board is not necessarily that many times better.

As far as bang for the buck goes, you get more value from the standard/middle of the road category than any other. The pieces are still good looking, and you can get much more value for your money than spending on the master grade stuff.

Guitar Making Tip No. 47 Wrap-Up

High end guitar making wood is beautiful. However, it does not guarantee a great sounding guitar. In the beginning, you can benefit from using standard grade wood or entry level wood on your instruments.

If you are new to guitar making, working with expensive wood adds stress to the build. You are already going to have to learn a lot, so don’t make it worse. If you make a mistake with less expensive wood, it will be easier to recover from, and less stressful to work.

If you have any questions on Guitar Making Tip No. 47, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Happy building.

1,001 Acoustic Guitar Making Tips for Beginners

Tip No. 47 is from my book, 1,001 Acoustic Guitar Making Tips for Beginners, which has a thousand more great tips to get your first few builds on the right track. There is no secret to guitar making, just a lot of small things that you need to get right. These tips will help you.

While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.

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