Maple and mahogany are often used as the wood of choice for electric guitars because they are both affordable and easy to work with. They do, however, have many differences in terms of strengths and weaknesses which will be discussed to help you decide between the two woods if you’re interested in purchasing a new instrument.
Mahogany Guitar Bodies
Mahogany is a denser wood than maple, providing a brighter tone. It is also heavier than maple, so if you plan on gigging with your guitar, you may want to consider going with the lighter-weight maple instead. Mahogany can be found in nearly any type of instrument and has been used in many classic guitars.
The Sound Of Mahogany
Mahogany has a deep, rich sound that can range from mellow to bright depending on the body style. Mahogany tends toward the warm side of the spectrum and is easy on an amp. The downside is that mahogany can be harder to keep in tune and can wear down the frets more quickly than other woods. Because of this, tighter string gaps and higher action are common in mahogany guitars if not properly set up by a professional guitar tech.
Advantages Of Mahogany Electric Guitar Bodies
Mahogany tends to be more stable over the long run than other guitars. Dents and dings are less likely to cause problems because mahogany is strong and able to take a beating. The grain tends to run in a straight line which is not as effective for an artist,
Mahogany is also fairly dense (no pun intended). This means that it won’t “breathe” as much as other woods (such as maple or rosewood). Because of this, mahogany does not form as much resonance and can be harder to produce a strong treble sound.
Disadvantages Of Mahogany Electric Guitar Bodies
Mahogany is one of the more brittle woods across the board. Finger and hand oils can cause damage to the finish of a mahogany body. Sustain and resonance are not as strong as other woods, which means that many people find it harder to produce a clear sound with clean sustain.
Maple Guitar Bodies
Maple is not as dense as mahogany so it won’t have quite the same tone or sustain as mahogany does. It does, however, have a slightly warmer sound and is generally lighter in weight more than the mahogany wood. So if you’re looking for a more mellow, lighter feel to your guitar there are few better woods to choose from.
The Sound Of Maple
Maple has a brighter sound than mahogany. It’s closer to a Fender style tone. Maple is also tighter-grained and denser than mahogany making it naturally more stable, which makes it easier to keep in tune unplugged. Maple guitars also tend to have a brighter acoustic guitar tone than mahogany. The downside is that maple can be harder on the fingers when playing for long periods of time because of the harder fretboard wood and stiffer neck.
Advantages Of Maple Electric Guitar Bodies
Maple is very strong and able to take a beating. This means that maple bodies can be much more durable than mahogany bodies. Additionally, maple has a nice tone that’s easy to produce especially on the low end of the spectrum.
Maple tends to be more stable over the long run than mahogany. Maple does not tend to dent or ding as easily as mahogany because of its denser grain and strength. The downside is that maple has a tendency to be harder to keep in tune for extended periods of time.
Disadvantages Of Maple Electric Guitar Bodies
Maple tends to be harder on the fingers and more brittle than mahogany. This can lead to quick wear over time. It can also make it hard to produce ringing chords or long sustained notes as compared to mahogany because of this brittleness.
Another disadvantage is the fact that maple tends to have a thinner plate, which means that it will be harder to produce a wide variety of colors in the paint scheme, unlike mahogany.
The Choice Is Easy
If you are in the market for a new instrument, the choice is easy. The sound of mahogany will take you back to the 60s where Fender and Gibson were king. If you’re looking for a more modern sound, it’s hard to go wrong with maple. While both wood choices have their perks, the bottom line is that if you’re looking into buying a new instrument, maple sounds great and it’s very stable making it easier to keep in tune when playing without an amp.