The spruce/rosewood combination is one of the most classic tonewood pairings in acoustic guitar design. Its loud, articulate voice makes single-note runs jump from the soundboard, and strummed chords sound massive and delicate simultaneously. Along with its iconic look, this makes spruce and rosewood the go-to tonewoods for everyone, from bluegrass flatpickers and rock ‘n’ roll strummers to solo singer-songwriters.
But not all species of the two materials are created equal. Everything from where the wood grows to how luthiers pair them in a musical instrument significantly impacts an acoustic guitar’s tone. So we thought we’d investigate both kinds of wood in detail. We’ll look at the different types we use in our instruments and break down two Breedlove series built on their foundation.
Types of spruce used in acoustic guitars
When it comes to acoustic guitar tonewoods, Adirondack spruce – along with Brazilian rosewood, which we’ll get to in a bit – is the king of the hill. Its volume, dynamics, and sustain are simply unmatched by other tonewoods used in acoustic guitar tops. And, as we point out in our article, The allure of Adirondack spruce, the sound of the Golden Age, “…the combination of Brazilian rosewood and Adirondack spruce virtually defined what has come to be known simply as a ‘pre-war guitar.'”
Tonally, Adirondack punches through a mix with a ton of volume and a strong fundamental. That, in concert with a wide frequency range, incredible dynamic response, and singing sustain, give it an almost natural reverb that players love. Its stiffness-to-weight ratio is simply ideal for acoustic guitar tone. Read more about Adirondack Spruce.
When you think of an acoustic guitar top, you’re probably thinking about solid Sitka spruce. It is so popular that it’s the foundation of a wide variety of musical instruments, such as pianos and some outstanding violins.
Sitka is a favorite tonewood of luthiers for its sonic and physical properties. Easy to work, we can shape it to perfection and pull the most detailed, responsive, and powerful tones from each piece. Also used for bracing, Sitka has a clear and bright sound that lets the tonewood used for an acoustic’s back and sides add its own character to its overall voice.
Like Adirondack and Sitka spruce, European spruce sits in the magic zone of being lightweight and extremely stiff. It’s “…often compared to Engelmann, with a touch of cedar’s warmth.” Blending characteristics of Adirondack and Sitka, our European spruce’s rich tone and complexity make it highly versatile.
Also, like Sitka spruce, this tonewood is widely used for crafting countless string instruments. It helps individual notes ring out with clarity but never at the expense of power. Delivering a beautiful marriage of both, it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular tonewood. Read more about European Spruce.
Types of rosewood used in acoustic guitars
There’s no question that Brazilian rosewood was, is, and will continue to be the gold standard of acoustic guitar tonewoods. You can hear a bell ring with a supernatural sustain even when you tap it as a raw blank of wood. Unfortunately, Brazilian rosewood is endangered, expensive, and extremely difficult to source. But we’re happy to say that Breedlove has the most extensive stock of the precious material anywhere and continues to craft exquisite guitars, like this Premier Concert CE LTD, that display its show-stopping beauty and sonic superiority. Breedlove owns the world’s largest supply of legally documented Brazilian Rosewood. Learn more here.
East Indian Rosewood
When it became apparent that Brazilian rosewood wouldn’t be available forever and import duties began to rise, musical instrument manufacturers scrambled to find a worthy replacement. Luckily, they didn’t have to look far. East Indian rosewood delivers a similar ring and power as its South American cousin but is (was) much more available. Today, whenever you see a modern rosewood fretboard, it’s probably East Indian, and it is found on incredible acoustic guitars at all price points. proving it’s more than a backup tonewood option.
East Indian rosewood is often associated with the robust tone of a spruce-topped dreadnought acoustic guitar. That giant bass and clear-yet-punchy treble is a mainstay tone for guitarists as diverse as unaccompanied singers-songwriters and legendary bluegrass flatpickers. It also works terrifically at adding assertive volume and rich overtones to smaller-bodied guitars. View the NEW Organic Pro Performer guitars, crafted with East Indian Rosewood.
Breedlove Premier Series Acoustic-electric Guitars
Like the spruce/rosewood pairing, our Made in Bend Premier Series acoustic guitars are as classic as you can get. With these two tried-and-true tonewoods as their foundation, these acoustic electrics elicit all the power, sonic detail, and dynamic range you’d expect from a top-of-the-line Breedlove.
Within the Premier Series, you’ll find all four of our acoustic guitar body shapes represented. Their solid rosewood backs and sides are available in East Indian or Brazilian options. You also have your choice of all three solid spruce top species. Along with Breedlove innovations, such as our Sound Optimization process and pinless bridges, these instruments balance iconic materials and modern construction in a beautiful, resonant, and ergonomic form. View Series.
Breedlove Organic Pro Performer Pro Series Acoustic-electric Guitars
The Organic Pro Performer Pro acoustics are newcomers to the Breedlove family. And we’re happy to add East Indian rosewood backs and sides as an option on these all-solid-tonewood, Designed in Bend acoustics.
Meant to be played, the Performer Pro acoustics come in all four of our proprietary body shapes and feature Fishman electronics. But the secret to their tonal beauty lies in how their Cascade Bracing frees the European spruce and Indian rosewood to vibrate and sing. Whether plugged in or strummed unplugged, these guitars more than live up to their Performer name. View Series.
Spruce/Rosewood: A Timeless Combination
We are crazy about all types of tonewood and have the collection to prove it. And we’re known for many exotic options, including our beloved Myrtlewood. But it’s hard to beat the classics, and the spruce/rosewood pairing will be around as long as the wood is available. Our Premier Series and Performer Pro Series honor that legacy and bring it into the future in the way only Breedlove innovation can.