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Tonewood  

Eric Peterson and Anne Beetem Acker

(Fr. le bois de lutherieGer. tonholz)

Informal and commercial term for any species of wood believed to affect acoustic properties in musical instrument making. It typically refers to wood components of chordophones including the violin family, guitars, mandolins, ukuleles, harps, and acoustic and hybrid keyboards such as pianos, harpsichords, and clavichords; struck idiophones such as the marimba; woodwind aerophones including clarinets, oboes, piccolos, and bassoons; and various folk instruments.

The acoustic characteristics of types of wood are related to their physical and mechanical properties. The most important metrics of those properties for tonewoods are the elastic modulus (also known as coefficient of elasticity – the ratio of applied stress to change in shape), in-plane shear modulus (modulus of rigidity in a planar direction), and Poisson’s ratios (deformation perpendicular to direction of an applied force). Other commonly used metrics include density, specific gravity (relative density), Young’s modulus (how easily an elastic material stretches and deforms), Janka hardness (resistance to denting and wear), and tensile strength....