Guitar Body Types - The Ultimate Guide

Guitar Body Types - The Ultimate Guide

Posted by Matt McCracken on 1st Mar 2022

There are a variety of reasons you might look to purchase a guitar body. Usually it’s a part for a brand new build, but equally you may just want to replace an existing body, match a neck you have lying around or put together that ‘parts caster’ with all the leftover bits you have from other guitar mods. Whichever it is, we’ve got a stellar selection of high quality guitar bodies that will do the trick, no matter your needs.

Guitar Tonewoods

The material of an electric guitar body is not necessarily as important as it would be on an acoustic. That said, it does still have some impact on the natural resonance and tone of the guitar body, as the majority of guitarists will attest to if they’ve ever switched from Poplar or Basswood to more dense woods like Alder or Swamp Ash.

Alder

The majority of our guitar bodies are made from 2-piece American Alder, as predominantly used by the big F. It’s classed as a light to medium weight wood, and grows in the northern hemisphere of the world in various genera, including red alder, black alder, and European Alder. Preferred by a lot of guitar manufacturers thanks to its ease of use, you’ll find Alder glues easily and takes finishes very well thanks to its light colour and close grain making it great for solid finishes.

Alder Guitar Body

Alder has many sonic advantages thanks to its closed-pore design which delivers a resonant and balanced tone. Often referred to as ‘full bodied’ it has a great sound across the entire spectrum range, delivering excellent sustain and attack. It’s balanced tonal nature and easy to use construction is all what it makes it one of the most popular woods for guitar bodies.

Swamp Ash

All of our Tele style bodies feature a Swamp Ash construction, a wood that originates in the damp environments of the US South. Swamp Ash is typically taken from the lower portion of wetland trees that have roots beneath the water level and it’s a highly desirable tonewood with large, open pores that look great with a translucent finish.

Swamp Ash Guitar Body

Swamp Ash is said to deliver a resonant and ‘sweet’ sound, producing a tonality brighter than that of Alder. It’s often used on Telecasters thanks to it’s twangy and airy qualities, as well as it’s great sustain. Swamp Ash is slightly harder to work with than Alder due to it’s more porous nature which requires grain filling, however it is considered the more attractive of the two woods thanks it its broad grain.

Neck Pocket

All of our guitar bodies are designed with complete compatibility in mind, so our neck pockets are perfectly sized to fit the vast majority of guitar necks. The neck pocket offers a snug fit with pre-drilled holes for easy installation, making them perfect for matching with genuine Fender necks, or other aftermarket guitar necks.

Routing & Drill Holes

We also rout all of our guitar bodies for all your electronics, with pickups, control cavities, and some hardware mounts already pre-drilled so you can get up and running quicker. Depending on the model we may not necessarily drill tremolo or bridge mounting holes, and this is because there is so much variety between different bridge types that we would end up limiting what you can install.

Poly Finish

All of our guitar bodies carry Polyurethane finishes, which is the most popular material for finishing modern guitar bodies. There are a variety of reasons for the switch from Nitrocellulose to Polyurethane but, one of the main factors is that Poly requires far less coats to finish the guitar resulting in a quicker overall build process. It’s also far more durable than Nitrocellulose and will stay shiny for longer, being incredibly resistant to scratches and dings as anyone who's ever tried to sand it can attest to.

Poly Guitar Body

We stock a huge range of striking finishes with everything from Candy Apple Red to Seafoam Green available, as well as some more esoteric colours like Sherwood Green and Shoreline Gold. We also have unfinished bodies available in various body types, should you wish to complete your own finish with our Nitrocellulose Lacquer.

Stratocaster Style Guitar Bodies

Probably the most popular guitar on the planet, our Strat Style bodies come in a variety of configurations to provide guitarists their perfect partner when building one of these excellent guitars.

HSS Strat Style Body

HSS Strat Bodies

The HSS Strat is much loved thanks to its combination of humbucker bulk and single-coil slink. The variety of tone offered by the pickup configuration makes these guitars great for any style, encompassing anything from funk to heavy metal. We also find a lot of customers using these bodies for single pickup guitars, where you just want one humbucker in the bridge position.

SSS Strat Style Body

Strat Body SSS

The classic Strat shape and configuration, the SSS Strat guitar body delivers a guitar tone that’s been heard on countless hit records. The legendary sound of the Strat single coil is much sought after by guitarists, and our SSS Strat Style bodies are perfectly routed to accept your pickups of choice.

Check out the best Vintage Strat Pickups.

Hardtail Strat Style Body

Hardtail Strat Body

Hardtail Strats are an incredibly popular item here at Northwest Guitars and often sell out very quickly. The increased sustain offered by the fixed bridge type is a major drawing point for guitarists, preventing the need for locking tuners that a tremolo-equipped guitar will so often benefit from. A hardtail bridge is also considerably easier to install than a Tremolo bridge.

Telecaster Style Guitar Bodies

The Telecaster is a real player’s guitar, and everyone at Northwest Guitars owns at least one! Our Telecaster style guitar bodies come in three different varieties, each which utilise different pickup configurations to deliver their own signature sound.

Tele Style Classic Body

Tele Body

The classic Tele pickup configuration is a marriage of two markedly different sounds, coalescing into an incredibly powerful whole. The bright twang of the bridge pickup opposes the dark warmth of the neck giving the Telecaster its inherent versatility. Despite appearing to be a relatively simple guitar, you can cover a lot of ground with one of these amazing guitars.

Learn more about the Telecaster with our Telecaster Pickups Guide.

Tele Custom Style Body

Telecaster Custom Guitar Body

The Telecaster Custom offers a unique configuration, maintaining the classic Tele twang in the bridge position but delivering extra beef and warmth thanks to a humbucker in the neck position. Often you will find wide-ranging humbuckers in these guitars, but our bodies are routed to fit a variety of double coils with a minimum of additional routing.

You can learn a neat wiring trick with HS pickup configurations in our article on Guitar Resistors.

Tele Deluxe Style Body

Tele Deluxe Body

Going one further than the Custom, the Telecaster Deluxe gives you two humbuckers, making it a popular option for guitarists who like things a little more high gain. Our Telecaster Deluxe style bodies will allow you to fit any combination of humbucker you like, whether it’s a classic wide-ranging duo or something with a little more heft like the Seymour Duncan JBs.

Offset Guitar Bodies

Offset guitars have gained a lot of popularity since their rather lukewarm inception, where both the Jazzmaster and Jaguar were pulled from production. Their resurgence is mainly thanks to adoption by guitarists such as Kurt Cobain and J Mascis, where the relative low cost and unique style and sound made them an attractive proposition to guitarists looking to break the mould. Utilising unique pickups specifically designed for differing tone, the extra electronics help set offsets apart from traditional models, opening a myriad of tonal possibilities.

Jazzmaster Style Body

Jazzmaster Body

Our Jazzmaster style guitar body is a hugely popular one, often selling out the moment we receive a delivery! They come with bridge mounting already taken care of, as the Jazzmaster bridge has it’s own unique configuration, and pickup routing specifically for the unique Jazzmaster-style single coils, which share looks more common with that of a humbucker.

Jaguar Style Guitar Body

Jaguar Guitar Body

The Jaguar Style guitar body has all the routing for electronics present and accounted for, something you’ll be thankful for if you decide to put one of these together! The extra switching is completely worth it however, providing a unique tone that has been loved by guitarists such as Kurt Cobain, Johnny Marr, and PJ Harvey.

Bass Guitar Bodies

Our bass guitar bodies offer something for the four string aficionados out there, working great for upgrading import and beginner models where you don’t want to change the neck, or constructing something completely from scratch.

P Bass Style Guitar Body

P Bass Guitar Body

The P Bass is the most popular four string model of all time, marrying simplicity and ease of use with a punchy, powerful tone. The split-coil humbucker configuration is pre routed on all of our P Bass style guitar bodies, allowing you to harness the powerful bass and clear high end of these versatile pickups in your own guitar build.

Learn more about pickups with our Best Bass Guitar Pickups Guide.

Jazz Bass Style Guitar Body

Jazz Bass Body

With two pickups at different points across the length of the string, in a Jazz Bass style guitar body you get a brighter overall sound than that of the Precision Bass. This makes the Jazz Bass great for finger style playing and slap bass. Our Jazz Bass style body is just what you need if you want extra versatility from your bass guitar build.

In Conclusion

Well there you have it, an overview of all aspects of our guitar bodies! There’s plenty to choose from both in terms of body shape and finish, with a variety of pickup configurations to suit any kind of guitar player. Choosing a guitar body shouldn't be difficult, but you should be aware of all the options before you make the plunge.

If you need any further help with your decision feel free to get in touch.

Learn More

Read all about our Guitar Necks with this all-encompassing guide.

Tonerider Pickups are a fantastic high quality, low cost option for your next guitar build.

Learn more about bridges with our Guitar Bridge Guide.