Alder For Guitars

Alder

Used as body material in several American guitars like the Fender Strat Plus, Clapton, and American Standard. Light weight (body weight about 4 lb.) with a full sound.  This is standard on Quicksilvers & Pearlcasters.

Moderate attack and smooth decay yielding an even balanced tone with well defined lows and clear highs. Good choice for guitarists that require the ability to cover a broad range of sounds with one guitar.


Alder Quicksilver

 

Dillion Alder Tele Style

Alder is what Leo Fender used on his first bolt on guitars and so did PRS before he decided to go mass production. Alder is a great tone wood and it costs very little. Some of the drawbacks are it is harder to work with than say poplar or basswood. Source: Warmoth.com, December 1999

Many companies who used Alder have switched to Poplar or Basswood for economic reasons.  Basswood is not a favored tonewood but Poplar sounds quite good. Poplar requires a lot of filler and I don't recommend it unless you can find it in a good quality.  (Rare)

The only company that I ever saw use Poplar effectively was Parker on their very first models.

Poplar doesn't sound good on all guitars and neither does Alder. They work well with bolt on type guitars that utilize hard maple necks.

Call if you want to discuss the properties and tonalities of these woods.

Black Alder (Alnus Glutinosa).

Alder is a fast growing deciduous tree adapted to swampy areas and self sufficient in nitrogen uptake. Itís distribution area is Europe, Russia and north-west of Africa. In Sweden itís distributed up to the middle part and along the Norrland coast. There is one more alder species, Grey alder (Alnus Incana), with itís major distribution in northern Sweden. Grey Alder has similar wood properties as Black Alder but is somewhat softer.

Alder oiled


The alder distribution area

Alder wood

Alder is a light, relatively soft and medium tough wood among the wood species. Itís relatively form stable during moisture variations. The Alders color and structure of the wood, softness and reluctance to shrinkage and swelling makes it suitable building guitars.

Alder wood and its appearance

The Alder has a light red color. Small clusters of minor knots is common in the wood. Brown traces from harmless kambium insects can occur and also brown heart, fresh knots and black rotten knots.

Alder wood and its technical properties

Density (at 12% moisture) 520 kg/m3
Light Spruce

Aspen

Pine 

Alder Birch Ash Beech Oak Heavy
Hardness (at 12 % moisture) 215 Janka
Light Spruce

Alder

Pine 

Aspen Birch Ash Oak Beech Heavy
Toughness (Bending strength 86 Mpa)
Light Spruce

Aspen

Pine 

Alder Oak Ash Beech Birch Heavy

Alder wood and its technical data

Density: 470-510 kg/m3 at 0% moisture ratio (u)
500-540 kg/m3 at 15% moisture ratio (u)
Shrinkage: Shrinks from green wood to 0% moisture 4.3-4.7% radial and 9.3-9.7% tangential
Shrinks from green wood to 12% moisture 4 % radial and 6.5% tangential
Compressive strength: 39-52 MPa perpendicular to fibers at 12% moisture
Tensile strength: 92 MPa parallel to fibers at 12% moisture
2 MPa across fibers at 12% moisture
Bending strength: 78-95 MPa at 12% moisture
Youngs modulus (E): 9000-12000 MPa across fibers at 12% moisture
Shear modulus (G): 4.5-12 MPa at 12% moisture
Impact strength: 55 kJ/m2 at 12% moisture
Hardness: Janka: 440 on end surface and 215 across fibers at 12% moisture
Brinell: 3.7 on end surface and 1.4 across fibers at 12% moisture

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