Can You Make A Guitar Out Of Pine? (Pros and Cons)

Given how easy it is to get your hands on pine, and how cheap it is, it is natural to wonder whether you could use pine to make a guitar.

In short, yes, you can make a guitar out of pine. However, there are some drawbacks to using pine to make a guitar, and we will discuss those throughout this article.

Pros Of Using Pine To Make A Guitar

Easy To Access

Many types of wood that are desirable to use to make a guitar, are hard to come by.

They may be harvested in other countries, which means you need to find a way to get that timber from another country to your location, which can get complicated when trying to organize shipping, and getting natural materials through customs can also get tricky.

Pine, on the other hand, is readily available, in many shapes and sizes, in multiple locations nearby.

Affordable

Pine is also a lot more affordable than other hardwoods often used in guitar making.

As a result, it is understandable that many people who are looking to make a guitar will look to find the cheapest wood they can to keep the cost of the project as low as possible.

Cons Of Using Pine To Make A Guitar

Pine Is Very Soft

Pine is a very soft wood, and as a result, it is easy to dent it, scratch it, even crack it.

Most guitars are made from hardwoods, which are quite robust and can handle a bump and a knock, but the same cannot be said for pine.

If you are a gigging musician and plan to take your guitar with you on the road, or regularly to gigs in your hometown, it is highly likely that in the normal comings and goings, and set up and pack down, your guitar will bump into things which could ruin the finish and the Integrity of the surfaces.

Of course, this is just a cosmetic issue, so if that is not of concern to you, then this is not a big deal. But for many people, the finish of their guitar, and the look, are very important.

High Moisture Content

If you are looking at pine that is readily available in shops and at timber yards, there is a good chance the pine is either quite green or only recently harvested. 

This is not a problem for the predominant use-cases for pine in housing construction, however, when making a guitar this can be problematic.

As the pine dries out, over years, the wood will warp and twist, and change shape.

As a result, if you spent hours crafting the perfect pine shape and design, and the wood is not completely dry, there is a strong likelihood that the body will warp.

If you have sourced a very old piece of pine, or kiln-dried, and are certain that it is very dry then this may not be a concern.

But for a lot of the pine that is available to the general public, it is likely to have a high moisture content and be at risk of changing shape as it dries out.

Sap Content

Similar to the issue with moisture, pine has a high sap content, and it is possible that the sap will continue to seep out of the pores of the pine for some time after it is harvested.

So if you have put a lot of time and energy into a beautiful paint job then it could potentially be ruined by the pine sap leeching through the surface.

If you adequately seal the pine, with appropriate sealing products, there is a chance you can minimize or reduce this occurrence, but it is a big risk to be aware of.

Grain and Knot Characteristics

We all know that you do not want any knots in the wood that you are going to use to make a guitar out of, but unfortunately, a lot of pine timber has a lot of knots in it.

You can definitely find pieces of pine without knots, but it is more common than in other types of guitar wood.

Many people also find the grain of pine timber not as attractive and visually appealing as other hardwoods. So if you plan on a timber exposed finished with oil, then this is another consideration.

However, if you plan to paint it and cover the grain up then this is not a problem for you.

Hard To Work With

Because pine is such a soft wood, it can be very hard to work with.

When cutting, routing, and machining pine, it is easy to make a mistake or have an unintended impact on the wood which cannot be reversed. 

Whereas with hardwoods, there is a lot more resistance to the machining and routing, and there is more forgiveness for potential error.

Is Pine A Good Wood For Guitar?

Given the pros and cons of making a guitar out of pine listed above, I personally do not think it is worth the hassle, or the risk of building a guitar with pine.

Yes, you could save some money by using a piece of pine, but if you plan on investing a huge amount of time and energy, and other resources into building a guitar, my preference is to use a piece of wood that you know we’ll have longevity and a lot less chance of changing shape over time.

Furthermore, I wouldn’t want a paint finish that I had painstakingly worked on over weeks, to be impacted by sap seeping through the pores or from a dent caused by a simple knock to the guitar body.

Yes, you can make a guitar out of pine if you wish, but I will be sticking to the hardwoods.

Are Pine Guitars Bad To Play?

From the perspective of the guitar player, an electric guitar with a pine body is likely to be fantastic to play.

The body is slightly lighter than other similar Woods, so it will be nice to hold, and it will not affect playability at all.

As mentioned above, pine is a lot more susceptible to bumps, dents, and even cracks, so there is a risk that you could damage the wood in that way, but from a pure playability perspective pine guitars are ok.

Do Pine Guitars Sound Good?

An electric guitar made with a pine body, can have a great sound as shown in this video below, the builder made the guitar body using pine, and he demonstrates all the different sounds the guitar can make.

I was personally quite impressed with the sound quality.

But watch the video and see what you think:

Further Reading