Red Alder


West Coast Guitar Series

All guitars in the West Coast Series only use locally harvested woods from the west coast of BC. From Vancouver Island to the Skeena River, BC has the largest biomass per square meter in the world. The BC Raincoast is responsible for some of the most important tone woods used today in musical instruments. I would personally LOVE to get more experience playing instruments restricted to local Raincoast and Boreal forest woods. The few I have played have been SPECTACULAR!! I look forward to showcasing the power of the Raincoast and its incredible history here at Symphontree Music: in word, wood, and song.

Red Alder:

  • Specific Gravity: .37, .45
  • Avg. Weight Per Board Foot: 28 lbs/ft3
  • Color Range:  Light tan to reddish brown; color darkens and reddens with age
  • Typical Width: 4 1/2 “
  • Typical Length: 10′ to 12′ feet


Red Alder is a deciduous tree that can be found all over the raincoats. It has also been used for many generations by first peoples of Canada in a variety of ways. The bark which turns a bright orange to red when exposed to the air was a great source of brown or red dye.



The dye was made by boiling the bark in water and was used to dye cedar bark and to darken fishing lines to make them less visible in the water. The brightest dyes were achieved by chewing the bark then spitting the coloured saliva into a container. It was then boiled by adding hot stones. Then cedar bark or other materials were dipped in it. Red alder bark was also used as a disinfectant. About 1/2 cup of bark can be put into the wash water as a substitute for bleach.



Red alder wood was also a favourite wood used for smoking fish. It was also used for storing food as it did not impart any unpleasant tastes. Red alder was also an important wood used for carvers. The material was used to make balers, masks, dishes, spoons.The charcoal from red alder was also said to be used for tattooing.


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Red Alder bark is also a renowned medicine for Northwest Coast First Peoples. It has strong antibacterial properties and is used both internally, as a solution, and externally as a wash or as a poultice. It was also known to many elders up and down the coast as a medicine for tuberculosis.



Red Alder as a Tonewood

Red Alder was used by Leo Fender on his first bolt on guitars. It is a wonderful tone wood and has been used on many guitars since. Red alder has a moderate attack and smooth decay yielding an even balanced tone with well defined lows and clear highs.

[blockquote cite=-]Inquire today on custom building a guitar with this spectacular tonewood.[/blockquote]