Along with its body shape, a guitar’s top is the defining element of its sound, driving, through its vibration, the key aspects of volume, tone, sustain and projection. Spruce will, due in part to its famous stiffness-to-weight ratio, ring loud and clear. A solid wood top translates those vibrations with more immediacy and purity of tone, and reacts more directly with the intent of a player. If you are at an intermediate level or above, you will appreciate the instantly recognizable benefits of a solid wood top.
Long treasured by cabinetmakers and shipwrights for its simple, straight-grained beauty, strength and workability, mahogany—used in tops, backs, sides and necks—is also one of the true classic tonewoods, famous for its clear, strong fundamental; even string-to-string balance; and warm midrange emphasis. Mahogany pairs well with spruce tops as well as with itself in single species guitars—and both combinations define much of American roots music.