What is the difference between resonance wood and tone woods?
Resonant wood and tonewood are two terms commonly used when discussing the construction of musical instruments. However, the term “resonance wood” is often overused and misunderstood. In terms of physics, a resonant material is anything that can effectively amplify and radiate oscillations. In order to do that, it has to be both very light and very rigid. And in reality, there are only a few woods that meet these criteria.
It’s important to note that musical instruments have both sonically active and sonically passive parts. The active parts radiate sound, while the passive parts hold everything together or are simply aesthetic. For example, in an acoustic guitar, the active parts are the top plate and the strings. All the other parts are necessary for various reasons, but they can also be a hindrance to the soundboard’s resonance. The braces, fingerboard, and bridge plate, for instance, all have to be dragged along with the soundboard’s wild oscillations.
Tonewood, on the other hand, refers to woods that are ideal for making individual parts of musical instruments, perform their function reliably, and look aesthetically pleasing. They don’t have to resonate wildly to play well. Tonewoods are typically exceptional woods, often exotic, that possess specific properties perfect for their intended use. For instance, maple is frequently used for guitar necks because it’s strong, stable, and has a beautiful grain pattern.
It’s worth noting that while good tone wood is essential for instruments like xylophones, where multiple tones must resonate together, resonance wood tend to excel at producing a single tone, but with great strength and clarity.
Next time whether the wood really “breathes.”