If you’re curious about whether a cherry guitar body works as a tonewood, you’ve come to the right post!
As far as electric guitars go, bodies are most commonly mahogany or alder. There are also some maple tops. Then there’s poplar, ash, and a few other kinds of less common wood.
Things get a lot more diverse with acoustic guitars. After all, the impact of the materials on the tone is much greater with them. There are all sorts of wood for this purpose and they use different materials for the top, sides, and back.
The most common one, however, is spruce for the top and mahogany for the back and sides. Usually, acoustics have solid spruce tops and laminated mahogany for the back and sides. The idea is to have a softer wood type as the top and a harder one on the back. This way, it projects the sound in front of it. And this makes it louder.
Cherry as a Guitar Tonewood
One thing about cherry is that you don’t see it typically used on guitars. You especially don’t see it as a tonewood in solid-body electric guitars. The likely reason for the latter is that you already have popular woods, and it’s questionable how much they actually impact the tone.
You could have a solid-body electric guitar made out of cherry wood. Its grain could even be a welcome aesthetic feature. However, it’s simply not common. It’s just easier to get other standard tonewoods.
As far as acoustic guitars go, cherry is more common. That said, it’s not as common as mahogany or spruce. But we can find some guitars with it.
So how does it affect the tone? Well, in many ways, cherry has similar properties to maple with some notable differences. Cherry will give you slightly tighter bass and clearer mids. It’s bright but it gravitates towards a more balanced tone.
Here’s an example of a Martin with a spruce top and cherry back and sides.
As you may notice, the tone tends to get just a little brighter than usual. But it isn’t as bright and dry as maple would be in this place.
Uses in Guitars
Most often, you’ll see cherry used as back and sides. It’s also laminated wood, which is the most common variant for this purpose, no matter the tonewood. In particular, Seagull and Martin have some acoustic guitars with cherry backs.
As I mentioned, it has properties kind of similar to maple. So it’s relatively hard. In fact, its features make it a great choice for the back and sides. With a hard wood like cherry on the back and sides, manufacturers often opt for something softer, like spruce, on top. This all helps boost the instrument’s projection.
Cherry also adds its unique twist to visual features. Pores on the grain of cherry are less noticeable, so it looks more homogenous. There’s also a slight red-ish and purple-ish shade to it. Over a lengthy period, it can also change color a bit.
Cherry as Full-Body Guitar Construction: Does That Work?
I have to be honest and say that I still haven’t seen an all-cherry acoustic guitar. And I’m not sure how exactly it would sound. However, this thing could theoretically work. In fact, some claim to have done this.
Cherry has some pretty great properties. The tone is, overall, relatively balanced. There’s some boost to the mids in there, and it can add some sizzle to the high-ends. Additionally, the wood is relatively hard which can add sustain.
You can notice all of these traits on guitars that have cherry back and sides like great projection and a strong resonant tone. In addition, you get a solid amount of sustain and a pretty loud output.
But making it all out of cherry? How would that work? Well, you’d definitely have more sustain. And the tone would be a bit punchier with tighter bass. I would say that this instrument would be a great option for lead players or anyone looking for that kind of tone.
Now, there’s the obvious issue. Many have asked why we don’t see more cherry guitars. And some have also asked why we rarely, if ever, see acoustic guitars with full cherry bodies. To be fair, I don’t get it. I’m not sure anyone is totally certain about it so we can only theorize.
This tonewood is pretty great. So there’s no obvious reason for this. The only thing that comes to mind is that this is not a standard practice. And we simply get easier access to other alternatives.
But the simplest answer is yes. This tonewood works. And a guitar with an all-cherry body would most definitely work. Why we’re not seeing that? Well, I don’t know. But it seems like you can make a pretty great guitar out of cherry.
I hope this article has helped you think through this topic.
And if you want to read more about guitar materials on this blog, check out:
Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another guitar-related topic!