A very well done article. very helpful. With a rich dark reddish-brown colour, mahogany is very easy to spot. Now apply this to the gaps between the grains in different types of wood: if wood is dense, there will be less space among the grain for the sound to move around in, so you can expect quick attack and bright clarity. 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. He spends his free time composing for music libraries and playing in a post-rock band. This, of course, as always, depends on your particular tastes – mostly. Can you notice the difference? 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. most notably rosewood , was lifted on 14/12/19. It has become a perennial favourite and features on the comfortable majority of steel-string acoustics available today. The Martin 15 series is a good example of modern mahogany-topped acoustics. Light and unassuming in appearance. Sapele trees are protected in such a way as to prevent over-harvesting which makes this a relatively sustainable wood that is being harvested responsibly. It’s not half way between Rosewood and Mahogany but it’s closer to Rosewood than Mahogany is, if that makes sense. If you want high-end, look no further. But this is only a subtle difference really. That’s because they’re easy to work with and respond well to tension. Did you enjoy reading this article? 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. 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. 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. In my opinion both are great tonewoods anyway and if you like the tone of your 000-15, that’s the main thing! While employing solid wood is more expensive, it arguably yields superior results. Because of this, the choice of fretboard wood is one of the most important things to consider in terms of feel and playability. 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. 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! As with maple, this could be a cosmetic issue; acoustic guitars are widely perceived to look better with darker fretboards. Bought my first uke and it was made a sapele and was curious what it was. Interested in finding out more about music gear and expanding your knowledge? It definitely had the strong mid-range of the D18 (which I eventually inherited, selling the Taylor). Post Apr 11, 2007 #7 2007-04-11T04:12. Sapele has a slight blunting effect on cutters, but it turns, glues, and finishes well. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular choices for acoustic guitar tops: If there is such a thing as an industry standard top tone wood, then Spruce would have to tick that box. Leave a comment below and share your thoughts! Koa hails from Hawaii, where it’s known as the traditional wood of choice for ukuleles construction. Maple is known for its dense brightness and definition. I’ve been playing guitar for several years, and now I’m looking to get myself a Ukelele. This results in a more characterful and colourful tone, and the quality of tone generated by a mahogany guitar will therefore change through time. It was interesting to find this information about the sound qualities as well as some other qualities discussed here. Sapele is offered in many of our wood door styles.When “Solid” is noted, that is the version available. The main reason for this is that it suits just about any and every style of playing. Last updated: August 22, 2019 by Nate 19 Comments. 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! Sapele wood is a medium to dark reddish-brown or purplish-brown. Although I’ve been a die -hard Martin guy, I find that Taylor is now producing some very high quality, affordable guitars. It has high natural oil content, meaning that it can be left unfinished. Although Mahogany is more commonly found being employed as a back and sides wood, it is used as the soundboard on some models. 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. Acoustic vs Bass Guitar: Which is better for Beginners? But I’m glad you found the info helpful for your purposes. Sapele lumber is often marketed as a type of African Mahogany. These changes were implemented by CITES (short for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) to protect species from drastic reduction in numbers, and it meant that any guitar using these woods required CITES certification to be traded across borders – naturally, building guitars became a lengthier process and increased prices. And fun to work. Sapele. Sapele vs Mahogany. Caramel colour with contrasting patterned grain. Wood can be arranged and utilised in a number of ways when it comes to building acoustic guitars. Light, golden colour with a rich variety of distinct grain types. Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Sapele has been reported as a skin and respiratory irritant. 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. Imagine two rooms, one small and one large. Your email address will not be published. The issue here is there are many species that get lumped under the African Mahogany moniker. Similar in appearance and tone to Genuine Mahogany, Sapele exhibits a powerful midrange, great punch and bright and airy trebles. All else being equal, Sapele will be a lot like Mahogany, to be fair, but with some subtle differences. 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. Oil makes it extra shiny and prolongs the life of the board. 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. Thanks again for the helpful information. Overall, spruce delivers a broad dynamic range, with a crisp and immediate articulation of sound and little harmonic complexity. A dark, luxurious appearance with fine black lines in the grain. Sapele Wood can also be used in interior and exterior usage and is actually a cost-effective alternative to Spanish Cedar or Western Red Cedar. It also has to look great, right? Summary: bright, immediate tone with excellent projection that suits amplified performance. 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). ‘Transparent’ is a word commonly used to describe the inherent tone of maple, and it will frequently provide considerably more treble than the rosewood or mahogany alternatives mentioned earlier. Sapele then adds some extra high end into the mix. It’s harder than both Honduran and African Mahogany. 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. Our Sapele is “quarter sawn” at the mill, a process that creates a ribbon or stripe … Its instantly recognisable dark appearance is both subtle and striking at the same time. Some observe a slight mid-scoop with slightly enhanced lows as well as highs. Some people prefer the look of Sapele, and others prefer Mahogany. Because there is less stiffness along the grain, it’s also relatively quiet compared to some other tonewoods. In time, the brightness mellows, resulting in a warm rounded sparkle and rich low end. Modac X. Summary: similar tone to mahogany but with a little extra high-end definition, with stripy red colouration. Here’s a selection of some of the most common options and their characteristics: Rosewood has arguably been the most common fretboard wood for quite some time, although it took a dip under CITES restrictions – but will no doubt grow in popularity once again. It is also popular as a top wood. 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? Your email address will not be published. Also like Mahogany, Sapele is a popular wood for guitar necks. While it’s common knowledge that some woods sound brighter, darker or fuller than others, not everyone necessarily knows why! So, in the battle of Sapele vs Mahogany, which is the better tonewood? 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. As well as looking great on the top of an acoustic, it lends itself very well to plugged-in performances thanks to that quality note definition. Sapele is less heard of than Mahogany. I , too, in my ignorance was not sure if it was man made or natural wood. Brazilian rosewood has a luxurious appearance and rich, sparkly tone, making it highly sought-after. As a tonewood, maple provides excellent separation where every note sounding at the same time has clear definition. I agree that Taylor is making some really nice guitars. It’s technically a brand name, but in the guitar world, it means a composite of materials that’s bonded by a number of resins. If you have any questions or are interested in making a purchase, please give us a call or email Boone (boone@bellforestproducts.com) and we can quickly provide you with a quote. Many argue that solid wood also offers a more resonant tone, again due to the uniform grain and thickness. Engelmann for example, tends to be a little whiter and creamier than Sitka, but all Spruces are in the same ballpark ‘creamy white’ category. This, of course, as always, depends on your particular tastes – mostly. In some ways this is true since Sapele is in the Mahogany family, Meliceae. Much like koa, walnut is a dense wood that delivers a sparkly brightness. The wood is also naturally oily so it doesn’t need its own finish, meaning it feels extremely soft and natural under the fingers. Bamboo’s warmth and richness match a wide-range of … 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. 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. It tends to be warm and full, but usually with a firmer low end, and more overall tightness. A Walnut and Sapele Gift Box Before starting any project I make sure everything works out in SketchUp. For the most part, acoustic necks consist of either maple or mahogany. Denser sets of mahogany can start to take on some of the sonic characteristics of the rosewood, but generally, it’s a tone wood that will provide a punchy and balanced tone with a relatively emphasized midrange, certainly compared to the enhanced highs and lows that rosewood will generate. You simply use the thicker, more expensive piece of wood. Nate, an excellent, succinct article on these two woods. Martin still makes the 000-15S out of Sapele OR Mahogany (depending on what is available). Mahogany’s sound can be described as “earthy” “strong” “beefy”. If the wood is less dense, the sound will have more space in the grain to move around in, so you can expect a darker resonance with increased sustain! Summary: rich sound with complex overtones and crystal-clear high frequencies. Many argue that it’s well worth the effort and the wait to get it there though! 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. Glad the article could help. Thanks for your comments. Micarta is worth a mention; though it’s not technically a type of tonewood, it’s becoming more popular as a significantly cheaper alternative. Walnut sort of takes the cake as far as presentation. Although spruce is the most commonly employed top wood, cedar comes in at second place. Much like koa, walnut is a dense wood that delivers a sparkly brightness. I am not a musician; I am a 3D enthusiast. 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. Relative hardness of wood flooring species. Yeah it’s hard to know if yours is Sapele or Hog. They’re not exactly the same, tonally, but they are close. Claro walnut is a medium-sized tree of short bulky proportions. 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 Sharpest Tool in The Shed. Made popular by Martin and Gibson in the pre-war era, mahogany was seen as a cheaper alternative to rosewood. The combinations of woods therefore need to be considered carefully when they are paired up, and it is for this reason that acoustic guitars frequently feature different woods on the back and sides than they do on the top. Check out our ‘Electric Guitar Tonewood‘ guide! Thanks for the message. To give some perspective the following is the hardness of the woods discussed here including Rosewood. Ebony is a very dense and heavy but smooth tonewood. 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. A lot of guitarists, especially new guitarists might not have even heard of it. Would you please differentiate the two woods and the effect the woods have on the guitar? Martin Dreagnouth Jr. Sapele or GS Mini Mahogany. 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. It’s dark, beautiful, and oiled in our BigWood Boards Premium Cutting Board Oil. 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. Sapele Wood also has beautiful ribboning when quarter sawn as you can see in the video. East Indian Rosewood (often referred to as EIR) is easier to produce and therefore considerably cheaper. The Janka test measures the amount of force required to embed a 0.444" steel ball into the wood to half of its diameter. You’ve probably heard these two woods compared a fair bit. 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. 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 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. Copyright © 2015 - 2020 - SixStringAcoustic.com - Privacy Policy. Bamboo. Thank you! To see our post on how to best oil your walnut … 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. As mahogany matures, its tendency to produce a focused fundamental tone will start to give way to make room for more prominent overtone content. Honduran Mahogany is a species of wood known scientifically as Swietenia macrophylla. 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. Sapele is definitely a real wood! Mahogany tops are often left unpolished so that the natural aesthetic of the wood can be enjoyed. I, too, have only recently become aware of this wood. It’s closer to Rosewood than Mahogany is but it’s much more similar to Mahogany than it is to Rosewood. Of course, this hardness isn’t the only thing that determines the sound qualities. I am hoping for sound quality similar to Taylor guitars. Sapele is a hardwood tree native to central Africa and is obtained from sustainably managed forests. 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. Maple cabinets weigh more than walnut cabinets. It can be a rich dark chocolate brown color, sometimes broad, dark lines. They used those woods interchangeably for those models as far as I know. 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. How do I love thee, mahogany? Sapele: Janka Hardness 1,410 lbf (6,280 N) The hardest of the three options. Modac X. 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). <