Nato Wood For Guitars? The Good And Bad

By Mike D. Schmitt

Featured products have been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. We may receive commissions on purchases made from links on this site. Learn More

Share on:

NATO wood, also known as African Mahogany or Khaya, is a type of wood that comes from several species of trees found in Africa. It is a popular choice for furniture, flooring, and musical instruments, including guitars. In this article, we will discuss what NATO wood is, where it comes from, its uses, and its pros and cons as a tonewood for guitars.

What is NATO Wood?

NATO wood is a term used to describe the wood from several species of trees in the Khaya genus, native to Africa. The Khaya tree is a deciduous tree that grows up to 130 feet tall, with a trunk diameter of up to 6 feet. The tree is known for its straight grain, attractive color, and durability. NATO wood is a popular choice for furniture, flooring, and musical instruments, including guitars.

Where Does NATO Wood Come From?

NATO wood comes from several species of Khaya trees, which are found in various regions of Africa. Some of the countries where Khaya trees are found include Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Congo. These countries have established sustainable harvesting practices to ensure the long-term availability of the wood.

What is NATO Wood Used For?

NATO wood has many uses due to its attractive appearance, durability, and workability. It is commonly used in furniture, flooring, and paneling. NATO wood is also a popular choice for musical instruments, including guitars. It is often used as a tonewood, meaning it is used to create the body and neck of the guitar to produce the desired sound.

Is NATO Wood a Good Type of Wood for Guitars?

NATO wood is a good tonewood for guitars, as it has a warm, balanced sound with good sustain. It is also easy to work with, which makes it a popular choice for guitar makers. NATO wood is often compared to mahogany because they have similar tonal qualities, but NATO wood is more affordable and more readily available than mahogany.

Pros and Cons of NATO Wood for Guitars


  • Warm, balanced sound with good sustain
  • Easy to work with
  • Attractive appearance
  • Affordable and readily available


  • Not as resonant as some other tonewoods, such as spruce or cedar
  • Can be prone to cracking if not properly seasoned and dried

Who Makes NATO Wood Guitars?

NATO wood is a popular choice for guitar makers, and many guitar manufacturers use it to make their instruments. Some popular guitar brands that use NATO wood include Yamaha, Ibanez, and Fender. NATO wood is also a common choice for custom guitar makers and luthiers.

In conclusion, NATO wood is a popular tonewood for guitars, known for its warm, balanced sound and attractive appearance. It is also an affordable and readily available alternative to more expensive tonewoods like mahogany. While it may not be as resonant as some other tonewoods, NATO wood is still a great choice for guitar makers looking for a reliable, easy-to-work-with tonewood.

By Mike D. Schmitt

Mike is your 'Go-To-Guy' for all things music and pro audio. Engineer, musician, luthier, and quite possibly the biggest gear head on the planet. With over 30 years of industry experience in the studio, and on the road, we turn to Mike and his expertise for those hard hitting music and pro audio questions.

Related Reading


We will never spam or share your information. By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and may receive promotions or marketing material from us. Unsubscribe anytime.