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Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Fenderdad1950, Jan 15, 2021.
Why has Fender chosen alder as the wood of choice, for their better MIM and USA guitar bodies?
Because of cost and availability. Leo and crew chose it in the 50s for the same reasons.
Because it is the "chicken" of guitar woods. Not too hard, doesn't split or act punky in most cases. I fill it a little, but it really doesn't need it. Paint adheres OK, glues tend to work quite well on it. And other users don't tax its supply too badly.
It must be a good feeling, when a guitar company gets a shipment and they're able to use such a high percentage of it.
Certainly cost and availability were key criteria for Leo but also alder is a really nice, easy wood to work with. It doesn't require pore filling like ash (or mahogany) nor is there alternating bands of softer and harder grain like ash which makes ash very difficult to sand flat. It doesn't fight cutting with a router either....resists tearout. It sands very nicely and takes finish very well. All in all it's probably my favorite wood to work with.
It's cheap, plentiful and doesn't need grain filling to paint it.
Alder has grain very similar to Cherry. It can be attractive under a clear finish and doesn't need to be grain filled. It's way cheaper to finish than Ash and lighter than the vast majority of Ash. Lots of guitar builders use it because it is cheap and and easy to finish. In a blind test, you can't tell it apart from Ash or Mahogany, or any other wood for that matter.