Why is there so much talk about tone woods and so little about the actual quality or grade of the wood that's being turned into an instrument?
You do not need tonewood. You actually need no wood at all.
The terminology in general use regarding wood used for musical instruments is indeed nebulous; there are many terms which overlap, many terms that are overly broad or misleading. I understand your confusion entirely!
After 45 years full-time in the guitar business, having been hands-on with over 50,000 stringed instruments, and having been involved in the building of many thousands of guitars, may I respectfully disagree? Thanks!
I think Switch tried this with their vibracell technology, no?You do not need tonewood. You actually need no wood at all.
You do need a chassis material with a range of performance that is consistent with the design parameters.
The industry has largely not caught up with that very fundamental concept, yet, so there are no quality specs for tonewood or any building material related to its functionality in use.
When we can hit doing the chassis on a 3D printer these specs will have to become available.
Easy answer; manufacturers can easily list what type of wood they used, and it's verifiable. Quality/grade however is completely subjective. Neither loggers nor sawmills provide grades for this sort of stuff. Even Gibson makes up their own grades when judging maple tops (triple A, quadruple A, etc).