All else being equal, Sapele will be a lot like Mahogany, to be fair, but with some subtle differences. It has a relatively high velocity of sound, and the highest strength to weight ratio than any other wood. The African does not hold its color very well. Honduran Mahogany has a coloring that’s closer to orange than its African counterpart; African Mahogany is lighter in color, projecting a more pinkish hue. The only real way to tell would be b ya visual inspection if you were familiar with the how the woods differed in looks. 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. It definitely had the strong mid-range of the D18 (which I eventually inherited, selling the Taylor). Again, like with Mahogany, the sound that you can expect from a guitar with Sapele will greatly differ depending on other materials used, the builder, and whether or not it’s used as a top, back and sides or both. Forum Responses Little by little I’m building some experience. Sapele comes from West Africa and its scientific name is Entandrophragma cylindricum. I haven't played a Honduran next to a Cuban Mahogany guitar, so I'm just wondering if the tone varies much, or at all. Known in the US primarily as "Genuine Mahogany," Swietenia Macrophylla, its scientific name, is what most in the exotic lumber industry consider to be the true species when referring to "Mahogany." This of course doesn’t mean better or worse – it’s just to illustrate in terms of tonal characteristics how Sapele fits between Mahogany and Rosewood. Honduran Mahogany is a species of wood known scientifically as Swietenia macrophylla. Great post and very helpful….Now if I could only find out if my 2007 Martin 000-15 was hog or Sapele…that would be great…lol. that could help you tell if its a swietenia genus. So, in the battle of Sapele vs Mahogany, which is the better tonewood? 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. This means things like density, color, ease of work and finish are all up for grabs from one board to the next. Its sound falls somewhere between Maple and Mahogany. 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. Sapele then adds some extra high end into the mix. Dark colored gum or white deposits commonly occur in the pores. Thanks for the message. Registered User : Join Date: Nov 2006. 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. Though to be fair, on most guitars it would be hard to make out the difference in tone when used as back/sides wood. very helpful. Plus, it is much lighter than the African exterior wood options like Sapele, Utile, and African Mahogany. Does anyone have any experience with the African variety? As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. African mahogany has staggered rays, while Honduras mahogany has storied rays. It is different from the Brazilian rosewood tone, and adds a certain beauty and nuance to the tune and sound of the instrument. You may have seen some guitars that have Sapele back and sides or Mahogany back and sides or Mahogany tops but you might wonder what the difference is. Posts: 83 A respected dealer once told me that Sapele IS African Mahagony. Straight to interlocked grain with a uniformly medium to coarse texture. Honduran Mahogany is becoming increasingly rare. Khaya has excellent acoustic properties, and instruments with khaya back and sides produce a deep projecting sound. Honduras mahogany have stratified rays that are very clear even in the pictures shown here. Any other comments or questions welcome in the comments section below. An additional characteristic that sets African Mahogany apart is its chatoyant luster, which makes the wood appear to have different coloring, as it is … 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. Can you notice the difference? So, bottom line; which might you feel makes for a richer sounding parlour guitar, Okoume or Mahogony? It was interesting to find this information about the sound qualities as well as some other qualities discussed here. African Mahogany Tonewood. I, too, have only recently become aware of this wood. I have used a lot of both species. We call it “Sinker Belizean Mahogany”. That said, it is becoming more and more widely used and it will likely be more known as time goes by. I do not want to use the African because it will not match the existing Honduras. I've never played a guitar with African mahogany but the sapele guitar I had was similar in tone to my Honduran mahogany guitar. Sipo Mahogany (commonly referred to as either just "Sipo" or "Utile") is an African wood that is considered to be the closest, aesthetically, to Genuine Mahogany (although not a true "Swietenia"). African mahogany is a whole different deal and doesn't sound or look the same as the honduran stuff. This is when the grain switches back and forth every four inches or so. Honduran Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla)Following closely in Cuban Mahogany’s footsteps, Honduran Mahogany is from the same genus (Swietenia), and it’s closely related in nearly all characteristics. Thanks for that! I didn’t expect that this post would ever be used for 3D modelling purposes (or anything outside of acoustic guitars)! Glad you found this article helpful. Your article is really well done, and answers everything a musician would be looking for when they come across your page. Sitka Spruce is used more than any other species for guitar soundboards. A lot of guitarists, especially new guitarists might not have even heard of it. Honduran mahogany has a Janka hardness rating of 800. 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. African Mahogany, or African hardwood in the Khaya genus, is genuinely part of the Mahogany family. The density and grain structure are similar with a nice homogenous feel that allows it to be milled easily and hold details really well. The type used on Gibson guitars is most likely the Khaya type, or a species close to it that has a hardness between 800 and 900. Thanks! You’ve probably heard these two woods compared a fair bit. It’s closer to Rosewood than Mahogany is but it’s much more similar to Mahogany than it is to Rosewood. Signature Models $ 932.00 MSRP $ 699.00 Sell Price; Signature Concerto Copper CE. This was a well presented education on the different qualities of different woods . Sapele just smells better. 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. When it’s exposed to light it will fade a lot more than the Honduras. And, the few times they do (Limited j custom runs of 6 guitars tops, and such), they make sure to specify: "Genuine honduran mahogany". A very well done article. Comment from contributor M: And so guitar makers have sought sustainable alternatives. But this is only a subtle difference really. My supplier has told me I can save significant money by using the African variety. Nate, an excellent, succinct article on these two woods. This, of course, as always, depends on your particular tastes – mostly. The wood is Genuine Mahogany, Swietenia macrophylla, from Belize, basically the same texture and color as the sought after Honduras Mahogany, but it is unique because it has been submerged in the rivers of Belize for 75 to 150 years! This was the first time I came across Sapele Wood, and naturally I had some questions about it. It’s just not heard of as much as Mahogany. African mahogany of the Khaya variety is slightly harder at 845. The most obvious issue with African is "ribbon striping". Honduran Mahogany: Honduran Mahogany (Genuine) (Click on an Item Photo for the net sizes) DESCRIPTION: Heartwood color varies from light to dark reddish-brown. When it’s exposed to light it will fade a lot more than the Honduras. Question Glad the article helped with your decision and glad that you’ve found the tonewood combo that suits you the best. I’ve been playing guitar for several years, and now I’m looking to get myself a Ukelele. An inexpensive option like sapele, for instance, which is sometimes called Africa mahogany, behaves a lot like Honduran, but adds a little treble shimmer. Though to be fair, on most guitars it would be hard to make out the difference in tone when used as back/sides wood. Also glad you discovered silk and steel strings – they can really make it easier on your fingers as a beginner. I have used a lot of both species. My cynical mind tends to think sapele has a negative reputation, deserved or undeserved, and now the name of Okoume as a mahogany is exotic enough for people to take a chance on it. I recently got a Martin Backpacker 25th edition. Required fields are marked *. Its grain is generally tighter than that of African Mahogany. But it’s going to be closer to Mahogany than it is to say Rosewood. Most guitarists would have heard of Mahogany and it is a very popular back and sides wood and wood for necks. Historically, it has been a very economically important wood throughout the Latin America region. Meranti, in a lot of ways, is similar to Genuine Mahogany. It looks very attractive as veneer on furniture, but it is a real pain to mill (tearout). While mahogany is much easier to source than Brazilian rosewood, it’s still an endangered species, due largely to illegal logging. But I’m glad you found the info helpful for your purposes. Honduran Mahogany is preferred as a top wood over African Mahogany. You’ll likely notice the difference when used as a top wood – but not so much for the back and sides. The rays in these woods are very small, and I … Honduran Mahogany (aka genuine mahogany, Tropical Mahogany, American mahogany, Big Leaf Mahogany, Brazilian Mahogany), Sapele – yes sometimes, just to be confusing, some manufacturers call Sapele “Sapele Mahogany”, Stronger treble presence than Mahogany – that will be the main difference. My dad’s old Martin D18 was the guitar I grew up with so when I went looking for a new guitar, Taylor’s description of sapele in their 300 series, helped me decide on a 310. Handmade Guitars - This Dreadnaught is slightly more rounded than others, providing richness to players. It isn’t as hard as African Mahogany or Sapele. In fact some retailers sometimes even just say Mahogany, when it’s actually Sapele, just because less people have heard of Sapele. But this does give a good indication of how Sapele compares to Mahogany as opposed to Rosewood. When freshly cut it is a bright orangeish-red, but over time it oxidizes to a golden brown. All of those species get rolled under one moniker and sold as African Mahogany. This is no surprise given that it’s quite a hard wood but is still easy to carve. I was looking for wood textures and came across sapele when looking for mahogany. Is it truly just a different type of mahogany or is it closer to a sapele? Color wise it’s usually a pinkish/purple. Your article was very helpful and I will go for the sapele, since I prefer the sound of steel strings. Love the education. To give some perspective the following is the hardness of the woods discussed here including Rosewood. The Honduras is heavier and finishes better, and probably is more stable. For example I have already “discovered” the silk & steel strings (Martin) you suggest for beginners, which I use on my parlors , Dimitris (zaosan) – I hope this post has helped you to learn the difference in Mahogany and Sapele. These include: Honduran Mahogany is generally considered to be a better quality tonewood. This is the holy grail stuff that so many people say is … Is this the case with the African also? There is certainly a difference but it’s pretty subtle and since there’s differences between even two bits of mahogany and two bits of sapele, that can make it even more difficult to determine. I , too, in my ignorance was not sure if it was man made or natural wood. That said, it is also sometimes mistakenly called Mahogany, which could also lead to less awareness of this wood. b) African Mahogany–African Mahogany, also known as Khaya is a stronger and a harder version of the Honduran Mahogany. Copyright © 2015 - 2020 - - Privacy Policy. 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. Often referred to as having a “woody” tone it’s low overtone content gives it a crisp strong fundamental that is bright and responsive. Dust Collection, Safety and Plant Operation, Job Opportunities and Woodworking Services, Woodworkers compare the grain characteristics, color, and machinability of different Mahogany varieties. I am hoping for sound quality similar to Taylor guitars. I recently began a search for a mahogany top guitar like a D15 and learned that Martin uses both tropical mahogany and sapele interchangeably. While Honduran Mahogany is known for its fine, straight grain, African Mahoganyenjoys more variety in graining: Bee’s Wing, Ribboned, and Ropey patterns distinguish this wood from any of its counterparts. From the above two versions of Mahogany, the Honduran Mahogany is the more widely used wood for guitars as it has better tonal qualities. I do not want to use the African because it will not match the existing Honduras. I've had my distributor sort out the ribbon stripe. Yeah it’s hard to know if yours is Sapele or Hog. What’s your experience with these tone woods? African Paduk (Pterocarpus Soyauxii) Although this wood has just recently been introduced into the guitar making world, it is receiving much praise. I know over time Honduras ages to a much deeper color than when it starts out. Mahogany is a dense, medium weight wood that yields a wide range of guitar body weights, depending upon the source of the wood. The trebles are rounded yet detailed. I am going to buy a concert uke made of mahogany just for kicks and I usually have tow of each instrument any way; one for playing seriously and another to travel with, taker to the beach, parties etc. November 19, 2005, KnowledgeBase: Solid Wood Machining: General, KnowledgeBase: Wood Engineering: Wood Properties. Meranti vs Mahogany. To better understand the differences between the two, let’s first take a look at each wood individually. I am purchasing an online guitar with Spruce top, Sapele back and sides. Would you please differentiate the two woods and the effect the woods have on the guitar? It is interesting to note that although it is widely referred to as “African mahogany”, khaya is not a mahogany species despite the fact that its appearance and physical properties are very close to mahogany. In my opinion both are great tonewoods anyway and if you like the tone of your 000-15, that’s the main thing! While Brazilian rosewood remains the standard wood for comparing sounds made by guitars, many musicians choose the Tasmanian or Australian Blackwood as their guitar tonewood. Well done article. Don’t yet know the acoustic resonances and vibrations on this guitar. I was also more of a Martin guy before starting this website but over the last couple of years Taylor have become equals for me. As I’m about to buy an acoustic guitar I’ve sampled many different brands and models of guitars. In this context, 'storied' means that the rays line up in horizontal rows, which will tend to create ripple marks on tangential (slab cut) surfaces. There are many species of tree that are called “mahogany” (some accurately, some not so much). It wouldn’t be a 5. After much thought , I finally arrived at the best combo of woods that I feel produce the best tonal sound for me and my style of playing, a mahogany top with Sapele back/sides. From contributor A: Your site is third on that list. Anything else is cheaper woods like african and this. Martin Dreagnouth Jr. Sapele or GS Mini Mahogany. Organic Signature Glad the article could help. Also like Mahogany, Sapele is a popular wood for guitar necks. Thanks for your comments. Sapele is definitely a real wood! And fun to work. Macassar Ebony (Diospyrus Celebica) It is similar to Mahogany, and it’s fair to compare the two because Mahogany would be the closest to Sapele. Honduran Mahogany. Reactions: Gig Young and Brian N HONDURAS ROSEWOOD WOOD True member of the rosewood family (Dalbergia stevensonii) Very dense Primarily used for musical instruments including guitars and piano keys One of the more widely available members of the rosewood family Most boards are short and narrow Shop for Honduras Rosewood Khaya is a much cheaper species, sometimes as low as 1/3 the price of Genuine Mahogany however; so many will rely on Khaya for paint grade work. Your email address will not be published. ... African Mahogany. Cuban Mahogany is a different species than the more common Honduran variety. Your email address will not be published. Mahogany’s sound can be described as “earthy” “strong” “beefy”. None of the above are Limba (also known as Korina)which is not called African Mahogany. 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? Acoustic vs Bass Guitar: Which is better for Beginners? Ribbon-stripe Cuban Mahogany, Swietenia mahogani — $700. Mahogany is used in the bodies, tops, necks, backs and sides of guitars and mandolins. It is also popular as a top wood. African Mahogany wood is one of the most popular exotic tonewoods available for major manufacturers and custom builders. Thank you so much for the information btw! The Honduras is heavier and finishes better, and probably is more stable. There are actually a couple of different woods that are referred to as Mahogany, when talking about tonewoods for guitars. This is the average hardness and an individual piece of wood will differ. 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. Description. This article was very helpful in making my decision ! We have used 1000's of bd/ft of African for exterior millwork in the past 5 years. Tonally, the best Honduran Mahogany delivers a lively, detailed response, balanced, with a warm character, excellent bass, and vocal midrange. Last updated: August 22, 2019 by Nate 19 Comments. It adds dimension to my ideas as to what projects to use these two distinct woods for. I realized that the 25th edition is made of Sapele both top and back, while the original Backpacker is made of Sitka Spruce and tonewood. Sapele is less heard of than Mahogany. Occasional wormholes. Typically, in guitar construction, mahogany means Central American Honduran mahogany or African mahogany. The uniform pattern of mahogany, along with it’s density, compress midrange tones. African Mahogany’s color is lighter pink than Honduran Mahogany, or Swietenia Macrophylla, but otherwise, its appearance is much the same. Hi, I am Cleaton. Both in electric and acoustic guitars, a mahogany bodied guitar will offer a focused, powerful tone, with the fundamentals in slight preeminence over the harmonics. Any help with this would be appreciated. Would appreciate your opinion. It’s harder than both Honduran and African Mahogany. Swietenia macrophylla, commonly known as mahogany, Honduran mahogany, Honduras mahogany, big-leaf mahogany, or West Indian mahogany, is a species of plant in the Meliaceae family.It is one of three species that yields genuine mahogany timber, the others being Swietenia mahagoni and Swietenia humilis.Wikipedia Hard North American Maple has a hardness of 1450. I am not a musician; I am a 3D enthusiast. Thank you! It is not as hard as the African Mahogany and it is easier to bend. Thanks for the technical differences. They’re not exactly the same, tonally, but they are close. Some people are good at distinguishing the difference. However, its other properties are quite different. 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. your information on both Mahogany and Sapele tone woods was very helpful. Filed Under: Buying Guides, Guitar selection. Like other Mahogany, it has a warm, lively tone with clear mids and trebles. Torrefied European Spruce - African Mahogany. I would recommend using a dark stain. Although I’ve been a die -hard Martin guy, I find that Taylor is now producing some very high quality, affordable guitars. 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). Under finish, it appears to burn with an inner fire of ruby-red intensity. Sapele would then be a 2 or 3. The African does not hold its color very well. Hi, I too feel your article on the comparison of the two Woods is highly educational. Bought my first uke and it was made a sapele and was curious what it was. Being a novice in guitar playing, I have not yet posted on guitars in my blog, but I believe this year I will. Of course, this hardness isn’t the only thing that determines the sound qualities. 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. The subject pretty much says it all. (Architectural Woodworking Forum) african mahogany doesnt seem to have that characteristics and the other “mahoganies” just dont I am going to build a bar using either Honduras or African mahogany. All species within the genus are listed on CITES appendix II, and nowadays a fair amount of this wood is grown on plantations. It’s denser, finer-grained, and ridiculously beautiful. They used those woods interchangeably for those models as far as I know. 21 Guitar Playing Tips Every Beginner Should Know, Tips for Learning How to Play the Guitar and Sing at the Same Time, Acoustic Guitar Stands: Ways to Keep Your Guitar When Not Playing, Takamine Serial Numbers: What They Can Tell You and How to Decode Them. #5 02-12-2007, 02:53 PM Mike Deane. Instruments. Both Mahogany and Sapele have warm, mid-range-heavy tonal characteristics with subtle overtones. Usually, when someone asks what Sapele is, the answer is invariably – “it’s like Mahogany”. Sitka’s combination of strength and elasticity translates into a broad dynamic range, yielding crisp articulation and allowing for everythi… I agree that Taylor is making some really nice guitars. Thanks. The sounds and tones these guitars make is “sweet,” and distinct. It’s not half way between Rosewood and Mahogany but it’s closer to Rosewood than Mahogany is, if that makes sense. Save my name and email in this browser for the next time I comment. Thanks again for the helpful information. Like Mahogany, Sapele is used as both a top wood and a back/sides wood. Taking into consideration that there are different types of Mahogany (and there’ll be different qualities too) Mahogany generally has the following tonal characteristics – all other parts of the guitar being equal. This guitar is available at Breedlove Guitars. Inside the Luthier's Shop with African Mahogany great low priced alternative honduran mahogany
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