Top Tone Woods

Listed below are our top timber options from softest to hardest. If you are a finger picker or play softly and want a traditional tone un-amplified or amplified then you’re likely better suited to the softer timbers. If you play medium to hard, are a percussive player or play aplified the majority of the time, we suggest the harder or stiffer timbers.

Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata): This is sourced from Alaska and has a very close grain. It can get pick marks and scratches easily but is highly resonant. The top will vibrate without needing to play the guitar too hard, projecting a great sound for a soft player. We definitely like the way this timber works with Cole Clark guitars.
Air Dry Density 380
Modulus of Elasticity 8.3
Janka Hardness 1.5
For a soft player or finger picker, amplified or acoustic
For a studio acoustic
Not for a percussive player
A more traditional sound, but with the Cole Clark neck through character.
This is a sustainable timber.

Californian Redwood Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) : slightly stiffer than This is a great top for softer players but gives great resonance for strummers as well as finger pickers. This is a stunning timber which we source locally from trees planted 150 years ago. We feel this works really well on a wide variety of Cole Clark models.
Air Dry Density 420
Modulus of Elasticity 9.2
Janka Hardness 2.1
For a soft to medium player or finger picker amplified or acoustic
For a studio acoustic
Not for a percussive player
A more traditional American sound but with the Cole Clark neck through character.
Our supply is a sustainable resource.

Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis): This is sourced from Alaska and is the traditional tone wood for tops. While not endangered, musical grade Spruce is 250 years old and this is a limited resource with reports of less than one decade’s use currently available. This is the biggest selling top for most guitars, but not Cole Clark. We feel it works nicely on specific models but is actually decreasing in popularity in comparison to Redwood and Cedar for our build.
Air Dry Density 430
Modulus of Elasticity 11
Janka Hardness 2.3
For a medium player amplified or acoustic.
Not for a percussive player.

Bunya (Araucaria bidwillii): This native, sustainable Australian tone wood sourced from Queensland is responsible for over half of Cole Clark’s sales. This is the top used by the majority of our long term artists.
Air Dry Density 460
Modulus of Elasticity 11
Janka Hardness 2.3
Signature Cole Clark acoustic sound
For a medium to hard player, especially amplified
Good for a percussive player
Handles climate extremes better than the softer timbers.
This is a sustainable timber.

Huon Pine (Lagarostrobos franklinii): This is a fine sounding top timber from Tasmania where it is highly protected. Our timber was recovered from a lake which was flooded in 1972. It is a very oily timber, impervious to water. Huon is one of the oldest living trees on the planet. The faces we are working from are estimated to be 3000 to 3500 years old. As the centre of the tree rots out it is hard to determine the exact age.
Air Dry Density 520
Modulus of elasticity 9.23
Janka Hardness 4.1

African Mahogany (Khaya): As a top timber, it is a luscious board sound with lots of sparkle. It is quieter than Big Tree Redwood but with a sound closer to that of Bunya or Spruce. As a top timber, we run it in an all Mahogany guitar in which top, back, sides and neck all made of Mahogany.
Air Dry Density 530
Modulus of Elasticity 9.2
Janka Hardness 4.1
Good mid-range punch
For a more traditional acoustic sound but with the Cole Clark neck through character. Our African mahogany is sourced from Queensland so it is sustainable. Due to the area it is sourced from and the build method, the sound and look are totally different to any all Mahogany guitar we have seen. Unless we can source some more it is a limited run of about 90 guitars with Mahogany faces.

Cedar Of Lebanon (Cedrus libani): This is true Cedar and is a native tree of Lebanon. It is a very historic timber with many mentions in the Old Testament. Solomon’s Temple was made from Cedar of Lebanon. There were also artefacts found in Pyramids made from it. The “Jesus Boat” was made from Cedar of Lebanon. This was a boat recovered from the Sea of Galilee from the 1st Century CE. Our Cedar of Lebanon came down in a Church yard between Ballarat and Daylesford in Western Victoria, Australia. It is a highly scented timber but most importantly, it sounds really great, with a full resonant sound. It takes around 2 years to process so it is not always available.
Air Dry Density 520
Modulus of Elasticity 10.1
Janka Hardness 3.6

Southern Silky Oak (Grevillea Robusta): This is a very well balance timber, beautiful to look at with delicate rays. It has quite a rounded sound.
Air Dry Density 590
Modulus of Elasticity 7.93
Janka Hardness 3.9
This is a sustainable timber.

Australian Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon): This is the stiffest timber we make tops out of. It has a character all of its own, quite like Koa as it is a very close cousin. It is normally dark brown and grainy but can vary. It is native to Australia and sourced from Tasmania or Victoria.
Air Dry Density 640
Modulus of Elasticity 13
Janka Hardness 5.9
An acoustic sound in the tradition of an American all Koa guitar
For a medium to hard player amplified
Best top for a percussive player
Handles climate extremes better than the softer timbers.

Back & Sides

Listed here are our back and side options from least to most bass response. Lots of bass is not always best as too much bass can be muddy when amplified. We would advise more neutral timbers when amplifying. Small body guitars can benefit from the extra bass from Rosewood but it can be woolly and lack definition on larger body guitars both plugged and unplugged.
This is a sustainable timber.

Queensland Maple (Flindersia brayleyana): This is an Australian native sustainable timber sourced from Queensland and is our second biggest seller. It is no relation and has no similar sound characteristics to US Maple. It’s a neutral sounding timber like South American Mahogany with a touch more snap.
Air Dry Density 580
Modulus of Elasticity 10
Janka Hardness 4.7
Neutral Sounding, similar to Brazilian Mahogany
Fast attack
Good for amplifying.
This is a sustainable timber.

Southern Silky Oak (Grevillea Robusta): This is a sustainable timber native to Australia. It is a very well balance timber,
beautiful to look at with delicate rays.
It has quite a rounded sound.
Air Dry Density 590
Modulus of Elasticity 7.93
Janka Hardness 3.930
This is a sustainable timber.

Australian Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon): This is our number one selling back and side timber. This is an Australian native timber sourced from Tasmania or Victoria and is sustainable. It is a beautiful timber to look at with a very similar tonal characteristic to Koa as it is a very close cousin.
Air Dry Density 640
Modulus of Elasticity 13
Janka Hardness 5.9
Good low mid’s
Good mid-range punch
Good high frequency definition
Good for amplifying
Signature Cole Clark acoustic sound.
This is a sustainable timber.

African Mahogany (Khaya) : This is sourced from Queensland in Australia so it is sustainable. We really like this with soft tops like Cedar and Redwood as well as the limited all Mahogany guitar.
Air Dry Density 530
Modulus of Elasticity 9.2
Janka Hardness 4.1
Good mid-range punch
For a more traditional acoustic American sound but with the Cole Clark neck through character

Indian Rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo): if you want lots of bass then this is the timber for you. It comes from India and is the staple of most guitar makers in the world today for backs and sides. This species is listed as vulnerable in the IUCN red list of threatened species and is not sustainable.
Air Dry Density 600
Modulus of Elasticity 12
Janka Hardness 12
Good low frequency
Can be boomy amplified depending on size of guitar and type of fretboard
For a more traditional acoustic American sound but with the Cole Clark neck through character

Queensland Maple Silkwood (Flindersia pimenteliana): This is an Australian native sustainable timber sourced from Queensland and is used for necks of all 3 Series and backs and sides of 3 Series where they come with Maple. It is a very close cousin to Queensland Maple with a more golden colour. It is no relation and has no similar sound characteristics to US Maple. While the specifications are the same as Queensland Maple it has more bass response with a bit more bottom end than Blackwood.
Air Dry Density 580
Modulus of Elasticity 10
Janka Hardness 4.7
Neutral Sounding, similar to Brazilian Mahogany
Fast attack
Good for amplifying
Big balanced acoustic sound.

Finger Boards

Below are listed finger boards from softest to hardest. The harder the finger board the less bass you have and the more top end you get. Fingerboards have a very big effect on the sound of an acoustic guitar.
This is a sustainable timber.

Rive She Oak (Casuarina Cunninghamiana): This is a terrific fingerboard timber which sits in between Rosewood & Ebony in
it’s sound characteristics. It is from Northern New South Wales in Australia and is
sustainable.
Air Dry Density 770
Modulus of Elasticity 9.1
Janka Hardness 9.7
As of 2018, this has become our main fretboard timber.
This is a sustainable timber.

Rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo): From India, the “biggest” sounding fingerboard with balanced lows, mid’s and highs. This species is listed as vulnerable in the IUCN red list of threatened species so is not sustainable.
Air Dry Density 600
Modulus of Elasticity 12
Janka Hardness 12

Ebony (Diospyros ebenum): From India, the sound has less bottoms and mid’s than Rosewood and more tops when used as a fingerboard. African Ebony is on the IUCN threatened species list as endangered. Indian Ebony is on the threatened species list but is listed as “data deficient” so it does not have an endangered rating at this point. Once there is data it is believed this will be shown as a vulnerable species. A large body guitar with Rosewood back and side’s benefits from Ebony as it adds some top end clarity and takes just the right amount of bottom end out to balance the sound. Used on a smaller guitar can result in a toppy sound with not as much bass as it could have.
Air Dry Density 915
Modulus of Elasticity 14
Janka Hardness 10.7

Satin Box (Nematolepsis Squamea)
As a fingerboard this is a favourite at Cole Clark. It has a nice top end without the
scoop you get from Rosewood and without as much bass drop off you get from
Ebony and it is white in colour.
There is no data on Satin Box as it is a large shrub, not really big enough for
building purposes but great for fingerboards and backs and sides.
From our tests, the data sits between Rosewood and Ebony.
This is a sustainable timber.

Reference: Wood In Australia – Keith Bootle – Second Edition and The Wood Database