View Full Version : Building a strat body, What wood and where to get it?

Dan Ashlin
04-11-2012, 11:02 AM
So, as a summer project for myself, I've decided to put my woodworking skills to use and build a strat body. I've had my go to strat for a long time and its kind of Frankensteined. A mid 90's american special neck, custom wired lindy fralin pickups and a crappy mexican body. So, its time to give it the body it deserves. I don't know where to start with getting the wood for it though. I know its heavy, but i'd love to use a figured or burled rosewood. I hear it sounds wonderful and it looks downright gorgeous. Plus, the weight isnt a big deal as i'm used to playing my '57 RI les paul, which weighs in at about 40 metric tons anyway lol. So, where can i get some rosewood thick enough to make a strat body out of? Are there any suppliers out there? Or, are there any alternative woods I should be looking at?

Barry Daniels
04-13-2012, 1:19 PM
A solid rosewood body will sound very bright and thin, which may not be what you want. You can actually get a more full sound with a lighter, yet resonant wood like mahogany, walnut, ash, or alder. I have also made several solid body guitars with poplar which is very easy to find at most local hardwood suppliers. It is light weight, somewhat resonant, and with a dark brown oil stain can look like walnut.

Ryan Baker
04-14-2012, 10:03 PM
Your Les Paul is mahogany, which will still be very much lighter than a solid rosewood body Strat. You can get solid rosewood, but it will be very expensive. If you want it big enough for a one-piece (or even two-piece) body blank, it will be significantly more expensive still. As Barry said, it probably won't end up sounding the way you want either.

If you want the look of rosewood or burl, you might consider using a figured rosewood top on another body wood, which is typically how such solid bodies are done. That top could be anywhere from a veneer to about a half inch thick, depending on what you want. That would give you much better options, availability, pricing, weight, and tone.

Classic Strats would typically be swamp ash (not Northern hard Ash), which can be hard to find these days. Many painted bodies use Alder, or various other woods. Inexpensive import guitars often use assorted other cheap, soft woods. For a non-painted finish, you will want to pick a base wood that looks good. Mahogany is a typical choice (slowly being replaced with other things as mahogany gets harder to find). Mahogany will tend to give you a darker tone than the bright Strat tone.

There are lots of suppliers where you can start looking, like Luthier's Mercantile for example. You may have better luck looking at local hardwood suppliers. Once it gets tagged as "tonewood", the price tag goes up accordingly.

Ron Petley
04-22-2012, 9:42 AM
You might find something here, purple heart might be cool.................Cheers Ron.

Dan Hulbert
05-17-2012, 1:41 PM
Not an instrument maker, but my favorite source for hardwoods is cswoods.com

They have amazing materials and will ship. Their site is truley wood-porn