Red Cedar Guitar

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Forum topic by resonation posted 08-30-2010 04:38 AM 2577 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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60 posts in 3402 days

08-30-2010 04:38 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question cedar

So I got a hold of a thick Red Cedar board which I would like to turn into a guitar body, however I am not sure how red cedar will sound as a body. Is anyone familiar with this wood as a guitar body? Would a Walnut or Maple Top help to give it a better sound? Any advice would be appreciated.

-- Chris, Pennsylvania

4 replies so far

View BrendanC's profile


13 posts in 2998 days

#1 posted 08-30-2010 05:15 AM

Hi chris, sorry no experience on the acoustics. I would like to caution you that cedar can be frustrating to work with in thin sheets, as a soft wood it doesn’t have a lot of strength and cracks easily when thin. good luck

View knotscott's profile


7980 posts in 3340 days

#2 posted 08-30-2010 05:45 AM

From the Luthiers Mercantile International:

Soundboards are usually constructed from one of two types of woods, cedar or spruce. It should be mentioned, however, that many guitars have been made from pine, fir and larch, though generally these woods are considered poor choices as far as tone is concerned.

Western red cedar is by far the most popular cedar used in soundboards. It is common to classical guitars and is used in a strong minority of steel-strings. It has a nice red-tan color that ranges from chocolate brown to cinnamon or beige. It is well known for its pleasant scent, which is why it is a popular choice for cigar humidors. Tonally, it is warmer and sweeter than the spruces, with more overtones and a weaker fundamental. It is said that the notes have a more ‘singing’ quality and that the tone is more “open”.

‘Openness’ is a particularly interesting characteristic. Spruce-topped guitars can sound “tight” at first and may take some time to “open up”. Normally a spruce-topped guitar needs to be played-in for a period of time (months, even years) before it fully opens up. Cedar on the other hand has a shorter break-in period. A new cedar guitar will have rich harmonics and a crispness that is somewhat lacking in a brand new spruce-topped guitar.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3023 days

#3 posted 08-30-2010 06:40 AM

Cedar is commonly used for the top, or sound board, of acoustic instruments and guitars in particular. However, the sides and back are usually made of a hardwood of some sort. Cedar would not work for the sides mostly because it doesn’t behave well in bending. I own a classical guitar that has a cedar top with rosewood back and sides. It has a very nice and clear tone, much like Scott mentions above.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View rusty4's profile


3 posts in 2790 days

#4 posted 09-01-2010 06:30 PM

I’ll be watching this post as I’m a guitarist and want to build my own some time. are there any other woodworkers out there on this site who build thierown guitars?

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