Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

The future of wenge?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Taylor Livingston, Jun 16, 2003.


  1. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Louisiana, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    Howdy. I've read a couple things that have said wenge is getting harder and harder to obtain. Warwick's not offering it anymore, etc. It's my favorite neck wood.

    As some may know, I have a neck-through blank of it that I bought from Gallery. As my bass is no longer going to be made, I was going to send all my wood back to Gallery. Then, I considered that it may soon be unavailable. In the event I get a bass made in the future, keeping the wenge I have may be the only way to get a wenge neck. So...

    I'd like the opinions of those in the know on this. Do you think wenge will become less available? Should I hold onto my blank, or return it? Thanks.
     
  2. My wife works with all kinds of exotic woods, including Wenge....It was explained to us from a supplier at Owl Hardwoods that it becomes more scarce in supply or ridiculously expensive as wars rage on where the wood comes from.
    Over the last 4.0 years I've seen it both be in abundance, then get quite pricey, then disapear briefly.

    LenG
     
  3. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    The big problem is the war in Congo. It's not listed on CITES, so I don't think it is threatened.

    Warwick probably dropped it because it got expensive. It was almost as cheap as maple at one point. In Germany, it probably was that cheap.
     
  4. gyancey

    gyancey

    Mar 25, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Sell it to me!
     
  5. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Reiner Dobbratz of Le Fay builds most of his basses with (one-piece AFAIK) Wenge body and Padouk neck, in an email some months ago he said Wenge supply was ok.
    This could've have changed in the mean time, and he's using only miniscule amounts compared to Warwick (Le Fay is a one-man biz).
     
  6. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    I have no problem getting wenge. Larry supplies it for a really reasonable price.

    Peace, JP
     
  7. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    The future of wenge could be getting brighter since the warring factions in the Congo put down their guns. However, I don't know if Cameroon has/is going to relax its export ban on many species. When the civil war was going on and transporting the logs was dicey, many makers began using alternative species. Wenge's initial appeal, before the war, was that it was so low-priced...(from "Timber Commodity News":

    "The end of the civil war in Congo Brazzaville has triggered a resumption of log exporting from the south through Point Noire. Even during the years of unrest, production in the north continued and logs were, and still are, being transported around 1,000km by road for export through Douala port in Cameroon. The high grade sapele, moabi and sipo logs replaced the previous exports of these species from Cameroon itself which banned some 20 of the premier timber species from being exported as logs. No figures are yet available on the resumed Pointe Noire operations but some 200,000m3 of Congo Brazzaville logs were exported through Douala.

    Douala was the main port for exporting wenge. And as the article suggests, transport distances/costs remain high. Gilmer Woods lists a supply of wenge in their "New Arrivals" but also mentions it is tough to get.

    Some luthiers, such as Dana Bourgeois, (quoted below from `98) were talking optimistically about wenge's future. (From "The Future of Guitar & Bass" by Jim Roberts)-

    "I'm experimenting with a lot of woods, like wenge for fretboards. Wenge is an African hardwood that's a renewable resource. We've had good results with wenge, and we may end up introducing it on a regular-line guitar later this year."

    Panga panga from Mozambique is often sold as wenge these days and resembles wenge very closely. AFAIK, the main difference between the two species is their drying time...wenge takes much longer.
     
  8. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Unfortunately it's dyed, but still...

    [​IMG]

    I loooove that shaping. :D
     
  9. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    98 was before the wenge drought. It wasn't terribly long-lived. It disappeared for about a year or two and then started trickling back on the market at double to triple the old price.