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Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by rickbass, Jul 18, 2002.

  1. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Has anyone picked up a board of Katalox or used it for a bass component?

    Even if you haven't - is your understanding that it is a a "poor man's ebony" - or - is it really great stuff for necks/fretboards???

    Does it ever have any beautiful figuring/colors?

    Thanks for sharing any knowledge anyone has about this wood. I seen a couple of references say it is just the "nuts" but their comments may have been swayed by low cost.
  2. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Katalox is in the swartzia genus along with morado. As I understand, it is darker in color but has the good qualities of morado.

    I have never been able to locate a source. If you have one, please share.
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Thanks, Matt! Even "Woods of the World" doesn't have much practical info about it.

    At one time, I was thinking about a laminated neck of katalox and holly (nice contrasting woods). I read someplace that katalox was one of the undiscovered "jewels" of lutherie.

    The only sources for katalox I found and who seem to deal in higher grade woods than the commercial/flooring vendor-types are;

    - www.allnativehardwoods.com (the Oregon dealers always seem a cut above to me)
    - www.almquistlumber.com
    - www.anexotichardwood.com

    Dave Maize Guitars sells katalox fretboard blanks for something like $15 but I don't know the dimensions.

    Ken Lawrence uses katalox quite a bit and Martin makes an acoustic bass with it (to please the eco-minded Sting, I guess).

    FWIW - I've been checking out t'zalam, a.k.a. frijolillo. That's a pretty wood that looks promising so far.....twice as hard as black walnut.
  4. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    I searched pretty hard for some katalox. I'm pushing the alternatives pretty hard, but nobody (including Dave Maize) had anything resembling a quality, quartersawn piece of katalox. Lots of places list the stuff for sale but don't actually have any.

    Anyway, I'd be suspicious of the stiffness of holly. The stuff seems to dry really poorly, warping and cracking. Hard to find a nice piece. You'll get almost the same contrast out of maple and wenge and you can easily get all the laminates clear and quartersawn.

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