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Assessment of sound quality: Australian native hardwood species for guitar fretboard production


Rosewood species are used around the world in musical instrument component manufacture, most commonly for the use as the guitar fretboard. Due to the overuse of these species, rosewood has been declared an endangered wood necessitating alternatives to be sourced with similar desirable characteristics. Dynamic testing was performed on Australian high-density hardwood species with a density range of 480–943 kg/m3; the results were used for comparison with commercial Indian rosewood (IRW), used in guitar manufacturing for fretboard production. The anatomical features of the tested species were determined using microscopic imaging while dynamic testing was conducted using non-destructive, acoustic analysis. The anatomical features determined showed that certain Australian hardwood species have a strong correlation with the commercial species used for wooden instrument manufacture including frame board and soundboard production. The majority of species tested had solitary or multiple vessel type, vasicentric parenchyma and uniform ray types. The internal friction versus the specific dynamic modulus for the species tested were in a similar range of the IRW samples. The quality factor versus temporal damping of species tested showed potential similarities between the species IRW, with red siris (RSI), and red tea tree (RTT). From the study conducted, four species including: RTT, RSI, Queensland walnut (QLW) and Calophyllum (PTG) have been selected for further testing and fretboard prototyping; the selected species will be tested for quality of sound and strength in the manufactured prototypes.

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Quality factor


Elastic modulus









\(\alpha_{n}\) :

Temporal damping

\(tan\delta\) :

Internal friction




Solution of Bernoulli (rank n)

\(I_{GZ}\) :

Moment of inertia (GZ)


Acoustic conversion efficiency


Characteristic impedance


Radiation ratio




Speed of a compressional wave propagating in longitudinal direction of wood




Anti-vibrational parameter


Specific dynamic modulus


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Authors of this paper would like to acknowledge the great contribution of Mr Merv Waters from BRANCH95 for providing the species for testing and Mr Patrick Evans from Maton’s Guitar for his great contribution in evaluating the boards using industry’s benchmark for sound quality parameters and Mr Peter Bernoth from The Plutonium Studio for providing access to the anechoic room for testing. The project was a part of Australian component of ACIAR project titled: “Enhancing key elements of the value chains for plantation-grown wood in Lao PDR”.

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Correspondence to Maryam Shirmohammadi.

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Shirmohammadi, M., Faircloth, A. & Redman, A. Assessment of sound quality: Australian native hardwood species for guitar fretboard production. Eur. J. Wood Prod. 79, 487–497 (2021).

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