Upper Canada Tonewoods


Bringing you Guitar Tonewoods from the Canadian side of the Great Lakes Basin.  From Maple to Mulberry, Ash to Apple.

Upper Canada is the historic region of the former British North American colony that became the province of Ontario in Canada.  This area is a transition zone between the Appalachian forest (sometimes called the Carolinian forest) to the south and the Great Lakes/St Lawrence forest zone to the north and east.  Trees growing in this area are subjected to a radical yearly climate swings from the positive 30 degrees plus, to minus 20s or even minus 30 further north.  Rainfall can also sometime make the local trees wait.  These trees have to be a hearty bunch!   Although the terrain does not very much in altitude, there is a continental transitions from a lime stone basin in the south to the granite of the Canadian Shield to the north.  All these factors create many micro climates in this area offering a large number of tree species.  Some of these are standard tonewoods (Maple, Walnut).  Others are very close cousins of standard tonewoods (Black Locust and Honey Locust to the Rosewoods), and are in the same groups of plants that the luthiery world is turning to for alternates as the traditional woods become endangered and in short supply .  Yet there are other unusual offerings that rival the best such as Osage Orange.

Many of these trees are uncommon and even rare, others are being attacked by invading diseases or insects.  Few of these are harvested on a industrial scale.  Therefore the supply is very short as lumber from hobby saw mills or maybe a salvaged dying or ornamental street tree become available.  As these woods are also taking a while to air dry, the supply at this site is not constant.  Check in from time to time to see what is on offer.  


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The Tonewood List

Note; woods listed in grayed-out fonts are for reference only and not for sale.


Black Locust
(Robinia pseudoacacia)

One of the hardest woods available in North America, this wood is also a close cousins of the Rosewoods and offering a wood with very similar tone, and workability.  The one major difference is the golden color that may have hints of green to light tan.

Average Dried Weight: 48 lbs/ft3 (770 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .66, .77
Janka Hardness: 1,700 lbf (7,560 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 19,400 lbf/in2 (133.8 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 2,050,000 lbf/in2 (14.14 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 10,200 lbf/in2 (70.3 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 4.6%, Tangential: 7.2%, Volumetric: 10.2%, T/R Ratio: 1.6

East Indian Rosewood
(Dalbergia latifolia)
A standard tonewood for acoustic guitars. Average Dried Weight: 52 lbs/ft3 (830 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .70, .83
Janka Hardness: 2,440 lbf (10,870 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 16,590 lbf/in2 (114.4 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,668,000 lbf/in2 (11.50 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 8,660 lbf/in2 (59.7 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 2.7%, Tangential: 5.9%, Volumetric: 8.5%, T/R Ratio: 2.2

Honey Locust

Hard Maple
(Acer saccharum)

One of the most common woods for electric guitar necks, maple offers great strength and stability. 

Average Dried Weight: 44 lbs/ft3 (705 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .56, .71
Janka Hardness: 1,450 lbf (6,450 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 15,800 lbf/in2 (109.0 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,830,000 lbf/in2 (12.62 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 7,830 lbf/in2 (54.0 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 4.8%, Tangential: 9.9%, Volumetric: 14.7%, T/R Ratio: 2.1

Manitoba Maple
(Acer negundo)

This is the softest of the Maples with a fine grain and closed cells.  It works and glues well.  

Average Dried Weight: 30 lbs/ft3 (485 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .42, .49
Janka Hardness: 720 lbf (3,200 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 8,010 lbf/in2 (55.2 MPa)*
Elastic Modulus: 1,050,000 lbf/in2 (7.24 GPa)*
Crushing Strength: 4,950 lbf/in2 (34.1 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 3.9%, Tangential: 7.4%, Volumetric: 14.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.9

Black Walnut
(Juglans nigra)

The tree most people think about for walnut lumber but no the one most often used to eat.  This lumber is one of the most showy available in North America, colors form pale brown to dark chocolate brown and with hints of purple or reddish cast through individual trees.
This wood is easy to work although a bit harder than Mahogany.

Average Dried Weight: 38 lbs/ft3 (610 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .51, .61
Janka Hardness: 1,010 lbf (4,490 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 14,600 lbf/in2 (100.7 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,680,000 lbf/in2 (11.59 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 7,580 lbf/in2 (52.3 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 5.5%, Tangential: 7.8%, Volumetric: 12.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.44

Juglans cinerea)

A member of the Juglans, Butternut or sometimes called White Walnut is a true walnut.  This is a light weight and easy to carve wood.  Wonderful for electric guitar bodies.
Light to medium tan with darker distinct grain patterns.

Average Dried Weight: 27 lbs/ft3 (435 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .36, .43
Janka Hardness: 490 lbf (2,180 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 8,100 lbf/in2 (55.9 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,180,000 lbf/in2 (8.14 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 5,110 lbf/in2 (35.2 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 3.4%, Tangential: 6.4%, Volumetric: 10.6%, T/R Ratio: 1.9

Crab Apple
Black Cherry
Osage Orange
White Ash
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