Guitars are made of numerous different parts, many of which are made of wood. The choice of wood in the guitar body (the solid body and laminate in electric guitars and the sides, back and top of acoustic guitars), neck and fretboard all contribute to the overall playability, feel and, of course, tone of the instrument. Since mango is used in the construction of guitars and basses, it’s worth investigating whether it’s a good tonewood or not.
Is mango a good guitar tonewood? Mango wood is rarely used in guitar and bass builds, though it’s a potentially superb tonewood. The tone is relatively balanced with a strong low-end presence, brilliant high-end clarity, and articulate attack. Its stable and easy to bend but considered too soft for fretboards.
In this article, we’ll discuss if and how mango tonewood is used in electric, acoustic, classical and bass guitar construction with a keen focus on its tone.
Note: in my research for this article, I used Sweetwater’s extensive guitar database to find examples of guitars with mango in their construction. The links to the guitars in this article will send readers to Sweetwater’s site for more information. Sweetwater is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 10 Best Online Audio Gear/Equipment Retailers.
Table Of Contents
- Characteristics Of Mango Tonewood
- Is Mango A Good Electric Guitar Tonewood?
- Is Mango A Good Acoustic Guitar Tonewood?
- Is Mango A Good Bass Guitar Tonewood?
- Other Tonewoods
Characteristics Of Mango Tonewood
Mango tonewood comes from the hardwood species Mangifera indica (family: Anacardiaceae). Mango trees grow across the world but are native to southern/Southeast Asia (India, Bangladesh, Mynamar). As a piece of trivia, Mango is the national tree of Bangladesh.
Mango is most often a golden brown colour, though spalting regularly introduces yellow, pink, and black streaks. The grain ranges from straight to interlocked, and curly and mottled patterns are relatively common. Mango is a diffuse-porous wood with a medium to coarse texture.
Mango is not listed in the CITES Appendices and was formerly listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Though mango is far from the hardest tonewood, its relatively high silica content gives it a notable blunting effect on tools. It’s also liable to have reaction wood, which can shift while being sawed and cause damage to tools. Furthermore, tear-out is common with the more complex grain patterns. That all being said, it glues and finishes well and isn’t overly difficult to bend.
As a tonewood, mango’s tone is rather dry, offering clarity and articulation without a great deal of sustain. Its low-end is well-represented, as is its high-end.
Here are a few notable mango specs:
- Hardwood/Softwood: Hardwood
- Colour: golden brown or yellow with pink and/or black streaks
- Grain: straight or interlocked
- Texture: medium to coarse
- Pores: diffuse-porous
- Density: 675 kg/m3 / 42.14 lb/ft3
- Janka Hardness (Typical): 4,780 N / 1,075 lbf
- Elastic Modulus: 11.53 GPa / 1,672,000 psi
- Tone (Warm/Bright Scale): warm
- Price: moderate
Here are links to the official website of the IUCN and Cites:
• IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
• CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)
Is Mango A Good Electric Guitar Tonewood?
Before we begin, I should mention that tonewoods don’t have nearly as much of an effect on the overall sound of an electric guitar as they do on an acoustic guitar. The guitar pickups, strings, the signal chain and the amplifier all play a huge role in the overall tone of an electric guitar. It’s not all about the wood, though it is a factor.
Mango is a sustainable exotic wood that can be a good choice for electric guitars. However, it’s rarely incorporated into electric guitar designs, even though its articulate tone could sound amazing.
Is Mango A Good Electric Guitar Body Tonewood?
With a density of 675 kg/m3 / 42.14 lb/ft3, mango is considered heavy for a solid-body tonewood. There are many lighter, more widely accepted options (alder, ash, mahogany, basswood).
Density aside, mango can be a decent choice as a solid top/veneer wood. It has a rather distinct look, especially with the figured pieces. Additionally, its dry tone can help, in a small way, to improve the clarity of the guitar’s sound.
Is Mango A Good Electric Guitar Neck Tonewood?
Mango’s not a well-known tonewood, and it’s discussed even less as a neck wood. It’s not that it would be a terrible choice, it’s fairly stable, after all, and it has good hardness and density specs. However, there are plenty of standard tried-and-true tonewoods that dominate the builders’ and consumers’ markets.
Is Mango A Good Electric Guitar Fretboard Tonewood?
Mango is soft compared to the typical woods used in fretboards (hard maple, rosewood, ebony) and isn’t a great choice for electric guitar fretboards.
Is Mango A Good Acoustic Guitar Tonewood?
When mango tonewood is used, it’s nearly always in acoustic guitars, either as a top material or, in rare cases, back and sides material. Is it a good tonewood?
It’s fast and articulate, with strong low and high-end responses. The wood bends, glues and finishes nicely, has a medium-weight and is strong and stable. What’s not to like other than its relatively low sustain?
Is Mango A Good Acoustic Guitar Body Back/Side Tonewood?
Mango makes a great, albeit uncommon, acoustic back and sides material. It’s easy to bend and finish, making it a good choice for construction. In terms of sound, its relatively low sustain is more than made up for with reflectivity, offering a fairly loud performance sure to enhance the tone of whatever top/soundboard wood is chosen.
Examples of acoustic guitars with mango backs and sides:
- Martin CEO-9: acoustic with mango back and sides (mango top)
Is Mango A Good Acoustic Guitar Body Top Tonewood?
Mango looks pretty and sounds beautiful as well. It’s not as projecting or full as the spruce and cedar top woods, though it still sounds bright and clear with good definition across the guitar frequencies.
Examples of acoustic guitars with mango tops:
- Martin CEO-9: acoustic with mango top (mango back and sides)
- Yamaha APXT2EW: acoustic with mango top (meranti back and sides)
Is Mango A Good Acoustic Guitar Neck Tonewood?
Mango could potentially be a great acoustic neck material thanks to its smoothness, stability and defined attack. It’s an unpopular choice, though it could make for a fantastic-sounding experimental build.
Is Mango A Good Acoustic Guitar Fretboard Tonewood?
Mango is soft compared to the typical woods used in fretboards and isn’t a great choice for acoustic guitar fretboards.
Is Mango A Good Bass Guitar Tonewood?
Mango is practically unheard of in bass guitar builds, though it could be a viable tonewood for bodies, and particularly for the bodies of acoustic basses.
Of course, there are plenty of other tonewoods besides mango. Here is a list of other tonewoods with links to check out more in-depth articles on each:
- Panga Panga
- Pau Ferro
This article has been approved in accordance with the My New Microphone Editorial Policy.