Swamp Ash

Ed Roman Pearlcaster In Economical Swamp Ash

Ed Roman Quicksilver In Swamp Ash

Swamp Ash is a great sounding tone wood that takes a finish beautifully and is light enough to resonate well but strong enough to be stable.  Some of the best sounding Fender Guitars were made from Swamp Ash.

About 10 years ago Paul Reed Smith Guitars started producing a guitar made entirely from "Swamp Ash."  This guitar did not meet with my approval for many reasons. I am only going to list the reasons pertaining to the actual wood on this page.

1. It was extremely OVERPRICED!!!  In fact it cost more than one of their Maple & Mahogany models. By doing this they were trying to create the mystique that "Swamp Ash" was the very best of woods you could buy. Given their level of respect & credibility they at the time had in the industry it would have been possible for them to actually succeed.
2. The fact of the matter was that  their original guitars sounded much better, had more versatility and listed for about $400.00 less than this new model.
3. This guitar caused other manufacturers to jump on the "Swamp Ash" bandwagon forcing the price of raw "Swamp Ash" up, thereby creating a false impression that the wood was actually extremely expensive. But even after the Swamp Ash went up it was still much cheaper than using Mahogany and Maple for the body. This guitar started off with a bang but it ultimately failed and I am thankful for that. The internet provides open minded people a speedy source of information that exposed this guitar and it tanked.

There are a number of other problems I have with the guitar in question, but because this page is dedicated to wood I will not discuss them here.  I will list them however...
A,  Only available in 22 frets.
B,  Huge neck heel.
C,  Only available with maple neck,  No Ebony.
D,  Only available in 3 pickup version.
E,  Different cheaper to build electronics.
F,  Too much polyurethane on the neck.
G,  The bridge is a cheapy wraparound white metal piece of cheap $hit

Be advised I am not saying "Swamp Ash" is not a good tone wood. In fact I happen to like it along with Poplar, and Alder.

Just don't try to sell it to me for the dashboard of a Rolls Royce.

Ed Roman, May 21, 2000

PRS Swamp Ash Special,  Look at the huge heel,
What happened to the famous PRS 5 position tone switch.
I hate the pickup covers and the rail pickup in the middle,  The bridge is KRAP, and I want 24 frets
So you pay $400.00 to $450.00 more and you get a lot less guitar
That's good old fashioned American Corporate rip-off mentality

Where does the best "Swamp Ash" come from?
(Presumably a Swamp).

Quicksilver Natural Ash

I am neither a Botanist or a Tree Surgeon; I do however have years of guitar building experience and very strong opinions of what woods look beautiful and what woods sound great.

If you have decided to buy an instrument made from "Swamp Ash",  I suggest the Louisiana Bayou Country as your best source.  I build a lot of pricey exotic guitars so I don't use a lot of "Swamp Ash". Currently I am building about 10 Pearlcasters a year made with "Swamp Ash". Approximately 6 Quicksilver's a year made from "Swamp Ash" and possibly several one of a kind custom guitars a year using "Swamp Ash".

I  have found that the absolute best sounding "Swamp Ash" comes from Louisiana! That state is located directly in the heart of "Swamp Ash" country.  I have seen some one piece bodies and book matched ones. The old original Fender Ash Stratocasters are usually made from three  2"x 4"  pieces of Ash. The grain is seldom matched and therefore they have a sloppy mismatched look to them.


Ash is lightweight and has a good texture. It is particularly good for clear/ transparent finishes. Ash is often used for expensive guitars.  (At least by the big corporations who won't spend any real money for something better.



Ash; Northern Hard

This stuff is very hard and heavy. A Strat body will weigh from 5 lbs. and up. With its density, the tone is very bright with a long sustain. Its color is creamy, but also tends to have heartwood of pink to brown tints. The grain is open and takes lots of finish to fill up. Hard Ash is popular for its bright, long sustain.  

Ash; Southern Soft (Ash; Swamp)

Southern Soft or Swamp Ash is a prized wood for many reasons. This is the wood many 50's Fenders were made of. It is easily distinguishable from Northern Ash by weight. A Strat body will be light. This is a very musical wood offering a very nice balance of brightness and warmth with lots of "pop". The grain is open and creamy - a nice choice for clear finishes.

Light weight American wood, has a distinct ringing tone [when used as body material]. This wood works well with spring tremolo systems and single coil pickups to produce a transparent timbre with bell-like overtones. Medium weight bodies yield the best tonal balance and sustain. Extremely light bodies have a weak bottom end and sound thin.

Popular in the 50's for electric guitars this wood is alive and light weight. Swamp ash just wants to vibrate. Bright and sweet at the same time, excellent grain pattern, all transparent finishes look great on Swamp Ash.






7 String Teaza Guitar in Swamp Ash.