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Timber Choice

'Which timber should I choose and how will this effect the sound'

The word ‘tonewood’ has slightly magical connotations within the mandolin world. Put simply, tonewood is the wood within a mandolin's construction that contributes to its tone.

In the case of a mandolin, this is largely the mandolin body, which is divided into two sections: the top (or soundboard), and the back and sides (usually considered together as they are nearly always made of the same material). It is from within the grains of these woods that a mandolin’s unique voice emerges.


Spruce or cedar are the most popular wood used for mandolin tops. Sitka spruce is the most commonly found type, with grain varieties such as ‘bear claw’ adding to the aesthetic appeal. Sitka is characterised by is clear fundamental harmonics. When compared to spruce, cedar is a lot less dense. This makes it quieter, less bright, with less sustain. The upshot, however, is that Cedar is much warmer, and takes less time to reach its full tonal potential.

Back & Sides

Mahogany is probably the most popular choice of tonewood for mandolin back and sides and comes as standard for all of my mandolin and bouzouki builds. Mahogany’s density can add great ‘punch’ and projection, adding warmth, but with definition, and a ‘woody’ character.


For custom models I offer a choice of maple, black limba, rosewood and walnut, these would be at extra cost. For this years price list please click here.

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