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mystery mahogany

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by RyanHelms, Dec 5, 2004.


  1. RyanHelms

    RyanHelms

    Sep 20, 2003
    Cleveland, OH
    I lucked into a mystery mahogany board from a supplier who normally deals with builders. I'ld describe the appearance after having planed a piece, but I'm not sure how - even figure with long, medium tight grain and a touch of flame here and there? Looks like it's been stacked since '87 (marker written stock code on the side) or so and the rough board rings like a xyllophone key when tapped. Actually, the piece that was planed has far less ring to it, I'm guessing the board is exceptionally dry.

    Are there tell-tale things to look for that can help determine if this is African, Honduran, etc? Is the fact it came from a builder's supply a clue that it's more likely to be X type? Some forum and web searches didn't turn up much.

    Having zero experience with Mahogany, I'm at a loss and the fellah who got it from the guy who got it from the other guy (...ahem...) didn't offer any details.
     
  2. M_A_T_T

    M_A_T_T

    Mar 4, 2004
    Canada
    A pic would help.

    Just a thought, I've used a wood called Merbau before, looks just like Mahogany, but is ALOT heavier and harder, and has a real nice ring to it when I knock on the board, one of the reasons I used it. I recently found another piece, about 8' long, at my local exotic wood supplier. The board was unmarked as to what it was, though I knew clearly what it was. The guys at the store thought for sure it was "really dry mahogany", and sold it to me as that, so I got it for $5 a board foot less.
     
  3. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    It is no good. Send it to me :D

    .t
     
  4. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Easiest way to tell african from honduras is by smell. African smells like geraniums to me. Hope that helps ;)

    Could be anything if you bought it at a builder's supply company. There are a handul of stuff that pretends to be real swietenia. Even african is not in the same genus as the real deal (it's khaya). Then there's the phillipine stuff that they make doors and plywood out of. Sapele looks very much like mahogany (entandrophragma)....

    If you can put pictures up, there's an outside chance someone can help you here. There's a better than outside chance that someone will also totally guess very wrongly at what it is. Bottom line is that if it looks and sounds good then I'd call it mahogany and see what it can do.
     
  5. RyanHelms

    RyanHelms

    Sep 20, 2003
    Cleveland, OH
    Thanks for the help, fellahs. Here's a scan (couldn't get a decent pic for anything, so off came the top of the scanner)

    [​IMG]
    Geraniums eh? Come to think of it, there's no distint aroma to speak of..........


    So, even though I asked for mahogany and they said it's mahogany, I still could have been handed non-mahogany? Dang. "What kinda wood ya got there son?" "Oh, I don't know..."

    Haven't wet it yet to see what really pops but it does look good. I'll call it mahogany and get on with it - just wanted to try and avoid acusations to the contrary.

    Where to pal? :D
     
  6. Phil Mastro

    Phil Mastro

    Nov 18, 2004
    Montréal
    Is there a difference tonally between african and honduran mahogany?
     
  7. RyanHelms

    RyanHelms

    Sep 20, 2003
    Cleveland, OH
    Probably not, I've read that Spanish or African are used in place of Honduras due to it's limited availabilty. My question was proably not over tonal differences as much as simply being able to confidantly say "Yes, this is ------ mahogany" (if, in fact, it even *is* mahogany and not a lookalike)

    Mahogany, mahogany, mahogany, mahogany, mahogany, mahogany, mahogany, mahogany, mahogany, mahogany, mahogany, mahogany, mahogany, mahogany, mahogany, mahogany, mahogany, mahogany,
    ...looks funny after while...
     
  8. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    From what I have seen if it really is that light i color it is not Sapele. I work with that a lot, a lot of my necks have it in them, it is generally darker. .....t
     
  9. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Yeah, it's probably african (khaya) or a south american swietenia. I lean towards african since it tends to be a little lighter in color like what you've scanned, but specimens to vary. It's not spanish cedar if you don't notice a smell. Sapele is darker than what's in that picture, so I'd say it's not that either.
     
  10. schuyler

    schuyler

    Aug 5, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    looks like honduran to me, but i wouldn't put money on that. you might try going by a local wood dealer and looking at the types of mahogany in their racks. seeing lots of boards in one place will give you a notion of the variety within a species.
     
  11. RyanHelms

    RyanHelms

    Sep 20, 2003
    Cleveland, OH
    Why didn't I think of that schuyler? (don't answer that)
    I'll take piece on down to the local guy and see what he says.