The wood of the kiri tree (botanically: paulownia) is ideal as tonewood. Find out here why the material is ideal for instrument makers and why musicians and guitarists also love it.

Kiri – A wood for making instruments?

Kiri (paulownia) has been used in instrument making for centuries but is virtually unknown here in Germany. It is etched in the minds of many musicians that only a heavy instrument can sound full and good. Does tonewood really need a particular quantity of kilos? Weight often implies quality. But this is not necessarily true when it comes to music.

Kiri wood being used at the Enzenauer grand piano manufacturer.

Trade magazines and forums praise the sound characteristics of paulownia wood, including the sonorous, rich tone that can be heard when tapping on the wood. Piano makers notice an increased tonal richness. The grand piano manufacturer Enzenauer has also discovered this potential and is making grand piano covers from ultra-light Kiri wood.

What does an instrument made of kiri (paulownia) sound like?

Paulownia is much discussed, and appreciated, as a tonewood in guitar making. Musicians describe the sound as clear, vibrant and powerful, the wood as remarkably resonant. In other words, kiri (paulownia) produces a great sound with a character lacking in nothing. Despite the exceptionally low weight.

How suitable is kiri as wood for the body of an electric guitar?

Paulownia is an excellent wood for the body of electric guitars and basses. Tonewood can be used to make instruments that are both solid and light. Tropical wood such as rosewood, ebony and mahogany, which is also considered light, is not only still used for guitar bodies, but also for necks and fretboards. While some tropical woods are harvested illegally, KIRITEC’s paulownia wood comes exclusively from sustainably managed plantations in Europe. The wood is also very easy to work with.


Domestic woods such as ash and maple are also suitable as alternative materials for guitar construction. Both ash and maple are, however, more than twice the weight of paulownia. A standard electric guitar usually weighs more than three kilos, some more than four. Basses are even heavier. Instruments made of paulownia always have a 2 before the decimal point. Professional musicians with several performances a week can avoid back pain and bad posture by using such instruments. Instrument makers using this type of wood are also pleased about the low shipping weight.

Why is kiri (paulownia) a tonewood?

Tonewoods are types of wood that are suitable for instrument making. Key properties are the tree from which tonewoods originate should grow straight and be as knot-free as possible. This is exactly how the kiri tree grows when it comes from professionally managed plantations.