Choosing a new instrument can be a very exciting journey for any ukulele lover! It goes without saying that we want to love how our ukulele looks, but paying attention to the kinds of wood used to craft ukuleles is also important. Why? Because different woods make different sounds. How different? Read on!
Meet the Woodies
Not all woods are created equal. Some bring a soft, gentle and melodic sound, while others offer a more bright tone that projects to the back of the audience. Which one to choose? It all depends on what kind of sound you’re looking for, and where you plan to play your ukulele. Presented here is a quick guide to the most popular woods used in ukulele building: keep reading to learn more!
The acacia tree is very versatile. It can withstand harsh climates, though they grow best in temperate, tropical, and desert areas. Acacia is a hardwood, which makes it great for travelers since it’s one of the most durable and water-resistant woods on the market. And here’s the cherry on top: It’s Koa’s cousin! That’s right, they’re related! That’s why the tone from both Acacia and Koa ukuleles are pretty similar in terms of that characteristic woodsy, dry sound.
Even though bamboo is a great material to craft ukes, it is not wood, but grass! Why is it listed here then? Because bamboo ukes are just great! It is amazing how strong they are, offering a warm, modern look and subtle beauty. And sound? A bamboo ukulele is as warm as it is sharp, yet with a vibrant tone.
Cedar is a reddish, dark wood that brings a soft rounded sound. This durable wood can resist many weather conditions. Cedar doesn’t shrink, swell, warp, or decay because of weather changes. Because of its porous nature, it produces a muddy sound.
The star of the show! When talking about ukuleles, koa wood naturally comes to mind. It is not only because that wood comes from Hawaii, but because of its beautiful look and great sound. It has a very warm and mellow tone, whispering of the magic of the islands. The finest ukuleles in the world are made out of koa, and they also tend to be the most expensive ones.
Here we have the favorite uncle. With mahogany wood, you really hit the sweet spot between price and quality. It is one of the most popular and dependable woods in the ukulele world. Combining bright sounds with a little bass, mahogany wood makes it perfect for a balanced tone. This hardwood is considered to be in the middle of the sound spectrum, because it is less dense than rosewood but denser than spruce and cedar.
The origin of this wood comes from ancient India, where it was revered as a sacred tree. Nowadays, it can be found in any tropical country. It is considered to be a sustainable wood to use because the wood is harvested after the tree ceases to produce fruit efficiently. It also offers a beautiful grain and gives a bright and warm tone, similar to walnut. Some very fine ukuleles are made out of Mango.
This is a hard and resilient wood. For those looking for a stunning ukulele, maple is a great choice, with its dramatic flames and spalted forms reminiscent of tiger stripes or bird’s eyes. It has a very bright tone, is really the best choice for those recording and sharing their uke songs on the web.
Read more: What Are The Best Ukulele Strings Out There?
Spruce is bright and loud, with fantastic projection. This pale yellow wood is also characterized by its rich tone. Perhaps this trait makes it good for playing in open spaces as the sound will reach those even in the back seats of the audience.
Trembesi wood comes from the tropics of Indonesia. Its astonishing characteristics make it a great candidate for crafting beautiful ukuleles. It has a dark brown center with a few black lines. Trembesi ukes provide a sound with good projection and sustain. That makes it ideal for those who value dynamics and like to change up playstyles.
Ziricote is a nice wood for acoustic instruments, making it a good option to craft ukuleles. Its dark, chocolate brown color with darker bands brings a strong appearance. Its acoustic tone is very smooth, gentle, and yields a high resonance.
So there you have it: the most popular woods for the ukulele. This is just a guide, and in the end, it all comes down to personal tastes and preferences. If you are still doubtful about what kind of wood you should pick, consider having a sneak peek at how each wood sounds by surfing the ULTP Youtube channel or dropping a message!