Spruce: How Does It Affect Guitar Sound?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  November 8, 2022

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Spruce is a type of wood that is often used in the making of guitars. It is known for its exceptional tonal qualities, including its resistance against sonic changes, its clarity and versatility.

Spruce-made guitars often have a unique sound that is characterized by an open and vibrant timbre, with a longer sustain.

Let’s take a closer look at how Spruce affects the sound of a guitar and how it influences the tone and playability of the instrument.

What is spruce wood

Definition of Spruce

Spruce is a type of coniferous tree that is used to create the soundboard of string instruments such as the guitar.

The wood has a wide range of tonal variations, which can make it a great choice for any style of music.

Spruce wood is light, strong, stiff and resonant. It provides good flexibility and clarity when used in guitars and other acoustic instruments.

Spruce has been popularly used since early music production due to its superior resonance and tonal characteristics.

Spruce is also lightweight and easy to work with when creating instruments. As a result, spruce has been used in the construction of musical instruments for centuries.

It stands out for its tight grains which are bright in sound yet still retain some warmth; making spruce an ideal choice for most types of music from blues to classical.

The flexibility and bright tone make spruce perfect for creating vibrant lead melodies combined with decent volume output without sacrificing tone quality too drastically when compared against other woods.

Spruce works best with cold climates as its density does not change much depending on weather conditions or humidity levels; this gives instruments made form spruce an impressive stability level which is also beneficial during performances or recordings.

What Does Spruce Do to Guitar Sound?

Spruce is a popular tone wood used in the construction of acoustic guitars, having been used since the 1950s.

It has become one of the industry standard materials in production-line guitars because of its unique combination of tonal qualities, which have a strong influence on the sound and feel of an acoustic guitar.

Generally speaking, spruce makes guitar sound fuller and brighter than other types of wood while still maintaining clarity and note separation in the higher frequencies.

Its structural rigidity – when compared to other tone woods such as mahogany – gives it a clear, noticeable resonant boost in the lows and mids.

This makes spruce well-suited for fingerstyle or strummed playing techniques with open-tuning or alternate tunings, giving it a characteristically clear “ping” that amplifies its highs and allows for low notes to be heard clearly without losing the mid range.

The woods grain patterns also help form part of its overall sound profile by directing vibrations much like grooves on painted surfaces (which is why some luthiers refer to spruce’s ‘grain shading technique’).

The bigger height variations between these patterns result in more pronounced note transients while narrower grains offer greater note bloom with sustained notes ringing out fuller and longer; allowing for finer nuances between picking/plucking techniques on different strings/parts.

The combination of these qualities has made spruce one of the most sought-after materials among guitar builders and players alike who prefer its resonant brilliance compared to other commonly used woods like cedar or mahogany.

The soundboard of an acoustic guitar made from spruce wood makes it lightweight yet strong enough to absorb the vibration created by plucking strings to create a unique tone.

This is why spruce has been used in instruments for centuries. It’s renowned for being bright and producing a clear treble when played on an acoustic guitar.

Back and side panels — often made of mahogany or rosewood — give an overall pleasant tone with deeper bass that compliments spruce’s brighter qualities.

Different combinations of woods can be used together in order to yield different tones while adding beauty and character to each instrument.

Spruce has strong bass and treble tones, making it well-suited for bluegrass and similar playing styles; however it also lends itself to any kinds of music.

Its full sound produces a pleasant balance between sweet lows and bright highs that won’t be overwhelming but can still cut through when needed.

How Does Spruce Affect Guitar Sound?

Spruce is a popular wood used in the body and neck of electric and acoustic guitars, and can have a significant impact on the sound of the instrument.

The quality of the spruce used, such as the density and grain, can affect the sustain and timbre of the guitar sound. Let’s explore the effects of spruce in more detail.


The type of spruce used on a guitar can have a significant effect on how it sounds.

Primarily, spruce is valued for its ability to provide a unique sound with clarity, as well as its high strength-to-weight ratio and stability over time.

One of the key properties of spruce that affects the sound is called sustain.

Sustain is the length of time that a note or chord can be heard after striking the strings. As compared to other types of wood, good quality spruce has above average sustain.

This means it will produce long ringing notes, which are beneficial in particular styles such as fingerstyle and flatpicking country blues.

Spruce also has higher levels of harmonics in the sound which leads to greater projection and definition when playing notes.

Along with sustain, spruce wood is particularly responsive to heavy playing styles because it releases its power evenly in both soft and loud dynamics.

It provides tonal warmth without sounding muddy or dull like some other woods may become at higher volumes.

Furthermore, spruce works well for fingerpicked melodies that require precision; it produces distinct tones for each string even if played with light pressure for single notes or intricate chords with minimal pick noise interference – this gives your music clarity throughout any mix you may be working in.


One of the key characteristics of spruce is its effect on a guitar’s timbre. The timbre of an instrument is the tone color or quality — it describes its particular sonic fingerprint.

Narra, which tends to impart a bright, round sound that is crisp and clear, is preferred by many classical players. It yields complex sound with warmth and sings effortlessly regardless of dynamic level.

Adirondack spruce works well for bluegrass instrument players wanting a loud, cutting sound: It projects strongly and has long sustain even in harder playing conditions as well as providing good volume when played softly.

Bearclaw spruce has strong notes separation between strings and provides clear articulation making it ideal for soloists who require clarity over volume when playing finger-style acoustic parts .

Tone woods like European or Engelmann spruce produce a balance between brightness and warmth in response to varying attack levels – the player can achieve both the depth of tone for melodic lines as well as projection for louder sections.

Sitka spruce produces an even balance throughout different attack levels along with both richness in sound at low/medium dynamics and mid to high frequency projection at louder volumes over higher frequencies compared to other types of wood such as mahogany & maple.

Red Spruce (Adirondack)- Preferred by many builders due to its power & complexity while maintaining balanced overtones across all registers & excellent responsiveness during dynamic changes like fingerpicking songs with contrasting vocal lines & leads parts benefits heavily from Red Spruces’ tonal qualities.


Spruce is a popular choice of wood for electric and acoustic guitars. It offers a wide range of tonal qualities, as it is known for its bright, balanced tone.

The combination of its sustain, timbre, and response make it an ideal choice to get the desired sound out of any instrument.

In conclusion, spruce is a great choice for guitar body and neck material due to its wide range of tonal qualities and ability to produce a bright, balanced sound.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:

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