View Full Version : Tonal qualities of different woods

03-21-2012, 01:46 AM
Hey folks

As a total noob, I'm trying to get my head around the tonal qualities of the different woods used to make ukes. Does this really make a big difference or it it largely an aesthetic choice?

Can anyone point me to a good link or give me a quick rundown?

Kayak Jim
03-21-2012, 01:58 AM

03-21-2012, 02:09 AM
Thanks Jim. There's some great info there, and they certainly sound like beautiful instruments. Correct me if I'm wrong, but is this luthier using pretty unusual woods? Is it not more usual to use Hawaiian koa, flame maple, curly mango, nato etc.?

03-21-2012, 02:15 AM
Here is an informative link:


03-21-2012, 02:17 AM
Just what I was looking for, thanks so much.

03-21-2012, 03:13 AM
Here's another excellent thread from Ko'olau Ukulele


03-23-2012, 01:01 AM
That's a great link, thanks Mike. The explanation of specific gravity is excellent and really helped me get my head around the differences.

03-23-2012, 07:15 AM
There's also this:


- FiL

03-23-2012, 07:25 AM
It looks like I should have done a bit more searching before posting! A really nice succinct breakdown there from Pippin, he really knows his stuff. Cheers for pointing it out FiL.

03-23-2012, 09:29 AM
I have a page about tonewoods, with several links on my uke review site.

03-23-2012, 09:34 AM
I personally think it makes a huge difference - just look at the extremes between say a nato beater uke and a top grade koa. I also think that the looks also influence people's decisions. Now whether the pattern, curl, bear clawing, whatever you want to call it across the same type of wood actually influences tonal qualities I think is often the subject of heated debate.

Scott S.
03-23-2012, 10:43 AM
Here's another link that provides a quick description of various woods, and puts them on a comparison chart:

03-24-2012, 11:01 PM
Your tonewoods page is fantastic Ian, the laminates section was particularly helpful. Great job.

Thanks for all your help peeps.