The vast majority of Martin guitars have spruce tops. Spruce is widely considered the ultimate tone wood for guitar tops and piano sound boards. Spruce is also used for bracings and other structural parts inside the guitar.
A more affordable, African alternative for mahogany. To the layman the two are very difficult to tell apart.
Arguably the best tonewood for back and sides. Especially with Martin guitars rosewood with a spruce top is THE classic combination. Brazilian rosewood is said to be the best tonewood by far and it is also particularly beautiful. Due to heavy restrictions to trade and a total ban on cutting, Brazilian rosewood can only be legally used if it is from old stock and can be proven to have been felled before the ban became effective and even then it takes complex paperwork to get the wood certified. Therefore this wood is only used on the most precious instruments. Today’s standard is east Indian rosewood, which is also a great tonewood and has a somewhat more regular grain. Another magnificent timber is Madagascarrosewood.
One of the best tonewoods for back and sides and, on high end instruments for necks. Mahogany is also an interesting wood for tops, delivering a rougher and tighter sound.
Since the new CITES regulation became effective, this member of the „dalbergia“-family (which includes all rosewood species) became increasingly popular. It is visually striking and has a very pleasant sound.
A very beautiful timber from Africa. The colour is lighter than mahogany and it features a pronounced, striped grain. Sonically it lies between rosewood and maple.
Koa is a subspecies of acacia, native only to Hawaii, with a stunning colour and grain. It can be used for the entire body or just the back and sides in combination with a spruce or cedar top. Sonically it is particularly present in the mid and upper mid frequencies while less boomy in the bass frequencies than other woods. Since this beautiful wood is scarce (especially in the quality needed for building musical instruments), it is also somewhat more expensive.
This wood is relatively new to the lutherie. It is not only very pretty but also produces a sweet, focused sound.