Thank you! In some cases (particularly for guitar tops), the solid piece of wood is divided into two and mirrored – you’ll often notice a distinct divide in the middle of a guitar top when this is the case. Curly maple (also known as flamed Maple) and quilted maple are the two most commonly seen, although birdseye maple does make an appearance every now and then. Sapele wood is a medium to dark reddish-brown or purplish-brown. The only real way to tell would be b ya visual inspection if you were familiar with the how the woods differed in looks. I recently began a search for a mahogany top guitar like a D15 and learned that Martin uses both tropical mahogany and sapele interchangeably. With sapele, you’ll notice a strong low-end and midrange bark, very similar to mahogany, but it delivers more top-end definition than its African counterpart. Both Mahogany and Sapele have warm, mid-range-heavy tonal characteristics with subtle overtones. Walnut offers smooth playability and a bright tone, but with just the right amount of low and mid emphasis to sound balance and relatively transparent. It’s worth noting that Spruce does tend to tan over the years resulting in older Spruce top guitars taking on more of a yellow hue. An African tone wood closely related to Mahogany, Sapele is similar in both look and sound. When used as a back/side wood to compliment a brighter sounding top wood, Mahogany is good for mellowing out the brightness and adding some warmth and a stronger mid-range plus softening the highs and reducing the overtones. It’s been used to very good effect for decades, and there are two main varieties that have been employed throughout this time: East Indian rosewood, and it’s more elusive and expensive alternative, Brazilian rosewood. In fact some retailers sometimes even just say Mahogany, when it’s actually Sapele, just because less people have heard of Sapele. Sitka’s combination of strength and elasticity translates into a broad dynamic range, yielding crisp articulation and allowing for everythi… Walnut is beautiful and has nice tonal character on the sides and back though. Summary: bright, sparkly tone with slightly boosted low and mid frequencies compared to koa. Love the education. The Brazilian variety tends to have the more striking appearance of the two, with a dark brown complexion with rich orange hints, and fine black lines in the figuring. You’ve probably heard these two woods compared a fair bit. Don’t be fooled into believing that means that is a lesser quality, however; it’s just different. Try this instead: It’s hard to dispute Koa’s beauty, but many woods come very close for much, much less.Australian Blackwood is, for all intents and purposes, identical on all points but price. It is also cost effective compared to some of the other high end wood used in guitars. Sam is one of our content writers, as well as being our resident southpaw and synth enthusiast. Summary: warm tone with excellent midrange and bass emphasis, with a reddish-orange colour and an even grain pattern. Thanks. Another way to put it might be if you were to think of Mahogany as 1 on a scale of 10, and Rosewood was 10. Walnut is a popular alternative to koa; it’s often easier to source and work with, resulting in more common usage and a more affordable price tag. It’s just not heard of as much as Mahogany. Due to the unpredictable and ever-changing nature of this growth, you can almost certainly expect inconsistencies and imperfections at every level of detail, whether it’s an unmistakable fist-sized knot or a microscopic hole. Dense and fairly heavy, with sonic characteristics similar to those of mahogany, walnut is occasionally used in electric-guitar bodies. Summary: immediate, balanced tone with little complexity. Thanks for your comments. Most guitarists would have heard of Mahogany and it is a very popular back and sides wood and wood for necks. It’s closer to Rosewood than Mahogany is but it’s much more similar to Mahogany than it is to Rosewood. Overall, spruce delivers a broad dynamic range, with a crisp and immediate articulation of sound and little harmonic complexity. Traditionally used on classical guitars, cedar is becoming increasingly common in steel-string instruments. Summary: bright, immediate tone with excellent projection. Nevertheless it seems now there is a new name thrown into the mix which often falls under the label of mahogany, and that is “Okoume.” Are you familiar with this? I am not a musician; I am a 3D enthusiast. In time, the brightness mellows, resulting in a warm rounded sparkle and rich low end. Sapele is definitely a real wood! When used as a back/side wood to compliment a brighter sounding top wood, Mahogany is good for mellowing out the brightness and adding some warmth and a stronger mid-range plus softening the highs and reducing the overtones. The Janka scale is used to determine the relative hardness of particular domestic or exotic wood species. Registered Member. Your email address will not be published. On the other hand, the relative prominence of the overtones in the sound it generates results in cedar being a favourite among fingerstyle players who value the quality and character of tone above volume and clarity. Enough so that you’d likely notice the difference on the top and maybe slightly when used as back and sides in place of Mahogany. But this does give a good indication of how Sapele compares to Mahogany as opposed to Rosewood. Oil makes it extra shiny and prolongs the life of the board. Everything you need to know about the acoustic guitar tonewood options available on the market today! Better vibration means better sustain and better tone! One of the most common reasons for this practice is so that the guitar can feature an attractive natural grain on the surface without needing to use a thicker piece of wood. Also like Mahogany, Sapele is a popular wood for guitar necks. Similar in appearance and tone to Genuine Mahogany, Sapele exhibits a powerful midrange, great punch and bright and airy trebles. It adds dimension to my ideas as to what projects to use these two distinct woods for. As a tonewood, maple provides excellent separation where every note sounding at the same time has clear definition. Rosewood isn’t susceptible to staining or wearing out like some softer tonewoods can be, so it’s perfect for fretboards – the most frequently attacked bit of your guitar! Maple cabinets weigh more than walnut cabinets. May have awesome figure. Looking for information on the durability of a certain wood? Sapele is less heard of than Mahogany. Yeah it’s hard to know if yours is Sapele or Hog. Odor: Sapele has a distinct, cedar-like scent while being worked. For this reason, as with rosewood, it makes a great choice as a fretboard, although it isn’t as common. African Mahogany (scientific names – Khaya anthotheca, Khaya grandifoliola, Khaya ivorensis, Khaya senegalensis) is harder than Honduran Mahogany and is considered to be the lesser version of Honduran Mahogany. The main reason for this is that it suits just about any and every style of playing. Some people are good at distinguishing the difference. Would you please differentiate the two woods and the effect the woods have on the guitar? With a rich dark reddish-brown colour, mahogany is very easy to spot. Rosewood is popular for fretboards thanks to its smooth feel, but its durability is also crucial. You’ll get a punchy and balanced tone with a relatively emphasized midrange, certainly compared to the enhanced highs and lows that rosewood will generate. Sapele Wood also has beautiful ribboning when quarter sawn as you can see in the video. Sapele features interlocking, fine textured grain that frequently changes direction. As we touched on earlier in this article, mahogany is a stiff, hard and dense tone wood that provides a distinctly wood and warm tone. Mahogany topped acoustic guitars are not especially common but have been around since the ‘20s. Bought my first uke and it was made a sapele and was curious what it was. Light and unassuming in appearance. Ranging from cinnamon, through honey brown, and onto light chocolate in colour, cedar is relatively easily identifiable as being a darker brown than spruce. Walnut Cutting Boards. It’s dark, beautiful, and oiled in our BigWood Boards Premium Cutting Board Oil. Hi, I too feel your article on the comparison of the two Woods is highly educational. As the term may suggest, laminated wood is a number of thinner layers of wood that are stuck together with adhesives and pressure to form a sheet. Summary: bright, immediate tone with excellent projection that suits amplified performance. Imagine two rooms, one small and one large. I do have guitar back and sides sets in rosewood, mahogany, sapele, maple, cherry and walnut, so I can tap to my heart's delight. It certainly isn’t a cheap wood to get hold of which accounts for it generally only appearing on special or limited-edition guitars; Taylor are one of the few manufacturers that offer Koa on a wide range of models. Did you enjoy reading this article? When it comes to acoustic guitars, however, the wood configuration arguably plays a more crucial role. It is also popular as a top wood. It is well known for making an instrument sound bright and loud, and generates a tight, focused tone with little overtone presence. It should also be noted that Sapele on one guitar (with different materials and construction) will sound different to Sapele on another – and the same goes for Mahogany. Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Sapele has been reported as a skin and respiratory irritant. Well done article. Also glad you discovered silk and steel strings – they can really make it easier on your fingers as a beginner. I, too, have only recently become aware of this wood. This was a well presented education on the different qualities of different woods . As mahogany matures, its tendency to produce a focused fundamental tone will start to give way to make room for more prominent overtone content. Maple is a very dense hardwood, and this physical characteristic results in a relatively quick note decay. 2,192 3. Glad you found this article helpful. Made popular by Martin and Gibson in the pre-war era, mahogany was seen as a cheaper alternative to rosewood. Save my name and email in this browser for the next time I comment. This is partially due to changes in regulation that restrict the circulation of certain rare woods, most notably affecting rosewood, granadillo and bubinga. Modac X. This results in a more characterful and colourful tone, and the quality of tone generated by a mahogany guitar will therefore change through time. Walnut Flute Stand BedfordAvenueFlutes. Does it mean one is thicker and/or harder than the other? Light, golden colour with a rich variety of distinct grain types. Solid wood is the opposite approach. Different types of wood have different types of imperfections and characteristics in their make-up, and it’s this variation that makes them sound different from each other. I ended up with an Eastman all solid sapele guitar which, I believe delivers stonger output from the high strings that the D15 I played, presumably because it’s a harder wood than tropical mahogany. It was interesting to find this information about the sound qualities as well as some other qualities discussed here. That makes it a highly versatile wood for an acoustic guitar, ideal for a number of styles. You’ll see a number of species of used in acoustic guitar construction, the most common being Sitka, Engelmann (also known as European) and Adirondack (also known as Eastern Red Spruce). So, in the battle of Sapele vs Mahogany, which is the better tonewood? Last updated: August 22, 2019 by Nate 19 Comments. The Sharpest Tool in The Shed. It can be a rich dark chocolate brown color, sometimes broad, dark lines. Sapele Lumber Angela Raimato 2020-07-23T11:29:33-04:00 SAPELE EXOTIC WOOD Once considered a more refined member of the mahogany family, Sapele is now being used as the industry standard for doors, windows and moldings due to the restrictions on South American Mahogany. Required fields are marked *. Filed Under: Buying Guides, Guitar selection. Maple is known for its dense brightness and definition. Its resonance could be described as dark and complex, with notably rich overtones and a metallic zing that’s difficult to replicate with other woods! Sapele lumber is often marketed as a type of African Mahogany. As mentioned earlier, there are two types most commonly used: Indian and Brazilian. I am hoping for sound quality similar to Taylor guitars. From shop BedfordAvenueFlutes. Whether you get Honduran Mahogany (probably more commonly referred to as Tropical Mahogany these days because it is sourced from a number of Central and South American countries now), or African Mahogany, the sound characteristics are going to be pretty close. This article was very helpful in making my decision ! As mentioned earlier, mahogany is relatively easy to spot, with a distinct reddish appearance. Let me count the ways: L‑00, D‑18, O‑22, J‑45, Les Paul Junior…. Maple is known for its density, resulting in a loud, bright and transparent tone as we mentioned earlier. The distinctive patterns created by the wood’s varied colors and graining make for an eye-catching door. I recently got a Martin Backpacker 25th edition. It’s not a particularly common fretboard wood for acoustic guitars, more often seen on electrics. The fretboard is where you tend to get a broader variety, as this is one of the main parts that you’re in contact with when playing your instrument. Companies like Alvarez, Sire and Taylor are proud to offer solid tops on all of their acoustics, while Ibanez aren’t afraid to use laminates to offer stunning aesthetics and durability at reduced cost. Sapele is offered in many of our wood door styles.When “Solid” is noted, that is the version available. A Walnut and Sapele Gift Box Before starting any project I make sure everything works out in SketchUp. Glossary of Terms. your information on both Mahogany and Sapele tone woods was very helpful. Thanks! As I’m about to buy an acoustic guitar I’ve sampled many different brands and models of guitars. Sapele. I , too, in my ignorance was not sure if it was man made or natural wood. Leave a comment below and share your thoughts! Although spruce is the most commonly employed top wood, cedar comes in at second place. Its stunning appearance is one of the main reasons that Koa is so sought-after, but it has more than a little to do with tone as well. It has a relatively high velocity of sound, and the highest strength to weight ratio than any other wood. Because of this, the choice of fretboard wood is one of the most important things to consider in terms of feel and playability. To give some perspective the following is the hardness of the woods discussed here including Rosewood. I ended up to your site, trying to understand the difference between sapele & mahogany, as I’m considering to buy an inexpensive nylon strung electroacoustic crossover guitar, and the 2 candidates are full sapele the one and full mahogany the other. Acoustic vs Bass Guitar: Which is better for Beginners? The top (also referred to as the soundboard) is one of the components that stands in between your strings and the bulk of the guitar’s body, so the wood used has to be carefully considered. Your site is third on that list. Many argue that solid wood also offers a more resonant tone, again due to the uniform grain and thickness. It’s a less dense wood than spruce, providing you with a slightly darker tone. Finding and Buying a Door. Can you notice the difference? I am thinking of buying a Talor gs mini and did not know if sapele was a real wood or a man made product( I know that sounds dorky but I never heard of the word before). So, in the battle of Sapele vs Mahogany, which is the better tonewood? The Janka test measures the amount of force required to embed a 0.444" steel ball into the wood to half of its diameter. How do I love thee, mahogany? Some people prefer the look of Sapele, and others prefer Mahogany. The wood is also naturally oily so it doesn’t need its own finish, meaning it feels extremely soft and natural under the fingers. )Prices are per board foot and discounts are given at quantities of 10 board feet and 100 board feet. Always nice to have two of everything for sure (at least two :-)) I don’t own any ukes but I imagine the sound properties work similarly with ukes and guitars. Henk. http://acousticletter.com/join BUY NOW (more info): https://musicvilla.com/collections/taylor Interested? It definitely had the strong mid-range of the D18 (which I eventually inherited, selling the Taylor). Like Mahogany, Sapele is used as both a top wood and a back/sides wood. Walnut sort of takes the cake as far as presentation. The result is a tough, resilient material that lends itself well to fretboard use. In summary, it provides a punchier and darker tone than rosewood, with a prominent midrange. But this is only a subtle difference really. 5 out of 5 stars (11) 11 reviews $ 110.00 FREE shipping Favorite Add to 3d Printed Real Wooden 12-hole Ocarina and Stand ArcadianSunflower. Koa will not necessarily suit plectrum players due to its pronounced brightness, but finger-pickers who use the pads of their fingers or those that like to strum with their thumbs should definitely consider Koa. Honduran Mahogany is preferred as a top wood over African Mahogany. The name sapele comes from that of the city of Sapele in Nigeria, where there is a preponderance of the tree.African Timber and Plywood (AT&P), a division of the United Africa Company, had a factory at this location where the wood, along with Triplochiton scleroxylon, Obeche, mahogany, and Khaya was processed into timber which was then exported from the Port of Sapele worldwide. Although Mahogany is more commonly found being employed as a back and sides wood, it is used as the soundboard on some models. While employing solid wood is more expensive, it arguably yields superior results. There are several reasons for this, but its appearance certainly isn’t one of them; maple tonewood can boast numerous different figuring patterns, all of which can look absolutely stunning! Walnut is a resilient wood similar to rosewood. Much like koa, walnut is a dense wood that delivers a sparkly brightness. But I’m glad you found the info helpful for your purposes. It tends to be warm and full, but usually with a firmer low end, and more overall tightness. Don’t yet know the acoustic resonances and vibrations on this guitar. Thank you so much for the information btw! Koa hails from Hawaii, where it’s known as the traditional wood of choice for ukuleles construction. I hope this post has helped you to learn the difference in Mahogany and Sapele. The timber is in the same strength category as Oak, and is considerably stronger than African Mahogany. Light, golden colour with a rich variety of distinct grain types. This makes it a good choice for live performance because the clarity of tone cuts through the mix well, and feedback is less likely to be problematic. If you have any questions or are interested in making a purchase, please give us a call or email Boone (email@example.com) and we can quickly provide you with a quote. I'm in the mahogany camp, but only because personally I don't like the "stripey" look of Sapele. Below are listed the relative hardness for numerous wood species used in flooring. It tends to lose clarity when it’s driven hard, so tends not to be favoured among those who generally play hard with a pick. These include: Honduran Mahogany is generally considered to be a better quality tonewood. ... Walnut. Relative hardness of wood flooring species. Some sites referred to them as the same thing and they do look so very similar, but other sites claimed differences, so to be sure I googled sapele vs mahogany wood. The midrange is where it differs, however, with a healthy bark that puts it somewhere in between rosewood and mahogany. They’re not exactly the same, tonally, but they are close. Thanks for the message. The Timber Durability chart contains 5 classifications, with each class determining how long each timber listed will … Engelmann tends to be marginally lighter and less stiff, which results in slightly less projection, while Adirondack is generally slightly heavier and stiffer resulting in a louder guitar, but they are all relatively loud top woods. Because there is less stiffness along the grain, it’s also relatively quiet compared to some other tonewoods. That’s because they’re easy to work with and respond well to tension. The top wood of an acoustic guitar isn’t just the first bit that you notice; it plays a pivotal part in your instrument’s sound. Why it’s overrated: The price-tag is also among the most stunning on the planet. 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