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The Legacy of Spruce and Mahogany: Exploring the Acoustic Guitar Tonewood Combination

Spruce and mahogany form an iconic tonewood partnership. It’s one that has withstood the test of time in the realm of acoustic guitars. From vintage classics to entry-level instruments, this duo has left an indelible mark on music as a whole. So join us as we get deep into the world of spruce and mahogany, exploring their distinctive characteristics and their significance in the Breedlove line.

Types of Spruce for Acoustic Guitars:

There are three main types of spruce used in acoustic guitar building: Adirondack, European, and Sitka. All three exude their own highly desirable characteristics, both tonally and visually.

Note: We also covered these variants in our piece on pairing spruce and rosewood, which you can find here.

Adirondack Spruce:

In relation to other varieties of spruce, Adirondack offers unparalleled volume, dynamics, and sustain. Celebrated as one of the epitomes of tonewoods, it played a defining role in the coveted “pre-war guitars.” It has a commanding presence, wide frequency range, and remarkable reverb-like qualities that guitarists adore.

Sitka Spruce:

Sitka spruce, a top choice for guitar tops, is renowned for its versatility. Thanks to its clarity and brightness, this widely-used tonewood enables other tonewoods to shine, highlighting each acoustic guitar’s unique overall voice. It’s also easy to work with, allowing luthiers to pull detailed, responsive, and powerful tones from every piece.

European Spruce:

Combining the warmth of Engelmann and the lightweight stiffness of Sitka, European spruce takes versatility to the next level. The tonewood’s rich tone and complexity make it a go-to choice for not only acoustics but a wide range of string instruments. That said, its clarity and power are a favorite among guitar enthusiasts.

Types of Mahogany for Acoustic Guitars:

Genuine Mahogany:

Once considered the pinnacle of tonewoods, genuine mahogany derived from old-growth Cuban and Honduran mahogany. Its rich golden hues, straight grain, and signature tone remain unmatched, leaving a lasting impression on those fortunate enough to experience it.

Unfortunately, this prized tonewood is rarely found due to scarcity caused by over-forestation and trade restrictions.

True Mahogany:

Also known as African mahogany, true mahogany closely resembles genuine mahogany in every aspect. With its golden tones, straight grain, and expertly matched tonal qualities, it takes an expert to distinguish the two. African mahogany is much more available than genuine mahogany and today serves as the primary choice for acoustic and electric guitars across various price points.

Breedlove proudly uses the finest African mahogany in both our layered EcoTonewood and solid-tonewood acoustic guitars.

Breedlove Organic Pro Performer Pro Series Acoustic-electric Guitars:

We created the Breedlove Organic Pro Performer Series as a tribute to the fusion of European spruce’s articulate power and African mahogany’s warmth and clarity. These solid-tonewood acoustic-electric guitars offer a balanced tone and exceptional sonic flexibility. From the Concerto’s bold character to the Concertina’s focused tones, all of these guitars embody the perfect marriage of spruce and mahogany.

The Enduring Appeal of Spruce and Mahogany

Spruce and mahogany epitomize the classic sound of a great acoustic guitar, their enduring appeal spanning generations. The intricacies of this legendary tonewood combination are so universal that they can easily be overlooked. But their tone remains cherished by players, luthiers, and brands alike. We hope you’ll explore the Breedlove Organic Pro Performer Pro acoustics for yourself and see how they make the legacy of spruce and mahogany come alive.