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Sapele And Black Walnut Info Needed

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Has anyone got any experience with Sapele and black walnut. I have been offered a very cheap supply of both. What I would like is someone that has experience using Sapele in partuicular for bodies and can tell me the tonal qualities compareed to Ash.

Ive been offered sapele and black walnut strips for necks, already machined and ready for laminating. The trouble is it comes in 10mm strips so i would need like 7 parts to make up a neck blank. Im not overly worried about that but I was wondering about tonal qualities of those woods for necks as well.


Edit: I have just found this thread which does answer a lot of what i was after, but no Sapele info.... :D


Edited by Digideus
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im in a similar position as u digi

i was asking timber suppliers for mahogany and they allways said

"yep we got sapele mahogany"

i did some research and now i think sapele isnt real mahogany

botanical names; sapele = Entandrophragma Cylindricum

honduran mahogany =Sweitenia Macrophylla

now i dont know if i should settle for sapele "mahogany"

or keep looking for honduran (in vein probably, theres not much selection in a small country like nz :D )

anyways sorry i was much (any) help

if u do decide to use the sapele post about the tone


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Thats actually quite helpful. I had heard of sapele before but i wasnt aware it was part of the mahogany species.

I did some searching and found out that sapele is used as a substitute for hondurian mahogany in europe a lot, which fits with what ive found out so far.

THIS website sells hardwood chessboards. It gives some idea of the colour variations to honduras mahogany as it seems to be darker. I also found the following info..


Entandrophragma cylindricum of the family Meliaceae


Sapele: sapelewood, aboudikrou, sapelli, sipo, sapele mahogany, tiama, Gold Coast cedar, penkwa, libuyu. Sapele pommele.


Sapele grows from 150-200 feet with diameters of 3 to 6 feet and clean boles for 100 feet. Weight ranges from 35 to 43 pounds per cubic foot.


Sapele seasons rapidly but has a tendency to warp and is very variable in drying properties. Experts recommend a kiln schedule of T2-D4 for 4/4 stock; T3-D3 for 8/4 stock. Careful stacking of material minimizes problems. Works easily with hand and machine tools, although presence of interlocked grain can pose problems such as blunting of tools. Wood finishes well, saws easily, peels and slices satisfactorily. It has good gluing and nailing properties. Heartwood is moderately durable. Sapwood sometimes susceptible to powder-post beetle infestation. Heartwood can be resistant to termites, but not always. Wood has innate luster.

I think its safe to assume its tonal qualities are close to mahogany but Ill ask Doug over at Black Machine and get his opinion. In the meantime if anyone has used this wood, please tell us what its like.

Ill let you know!

Edited by Digideus
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I've got a friend that uses a ton of this stuff. His name is Arlin Liss and he has a website. He builds outrageous humidors. Big bucks, superb craftsmanship. Google Liss, cigar humidors. He probably can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the stuff.

The stuff isn't as hard as Honduras but it is not as soft as fir or such. Some of it has phenominal grain. I've seen a lot of quilted figure. If I was going to use it for a guitar I'd probably use it as a face cap.

Get a chunk and tap on it and see what it sounds like. The thick stuff just costs too much to use around here. Don't even want to think what 8/4 figured sapele over 12" wide would go for in Virginia.

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That's really digusting. I can barely get walnut or cherry for that kind of money, and I have to buy $500.00 worth at a time to get that kind of pricing.

Wonder what shipping on say four blanks would run to Virginia? Just wondering.

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black walnut?


Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

A deciduous tree from the Walnut Family (Juglandaceae)

Black Walnut, a rapidly growing tree common in all of Ohio, is most common in moist bottomlands and open fields, but is found everywhere due to squirrels burying its nuts. Its beautiful, fine-grained, chocolate-brown, relatively lightweight heartwood is the ultimate choice for making solid wood furniture, interior trim, gunstocks, and high-quality veneer. The large nut contained beneath the husks of Black Walnut is round and can be cracked open to expose the bittersweet, oily, and highly nutritious kernel.

A native of the Eastern, Midwestern, and Great Plains regions of the United States, Black Walnut is a pioneer invader tree in open fields or cut-over woodlots, and grows rapidly in youth. It displays an irregular and open growth habit when young, dividing into several spreading branches that give it an upright rounded shape as it matures. Its bold winter texture makes it an outstanding tree to observe during the dormant season. This tree may easily grow to 70 feet tall by 70 feet wide when it is found in the open. As a member of the Walnut Family, it is related to other Walnuts and to the Hickories.

The walnut/butternut group (Juglans spp.) contains 15 species which grow in South America [6], Eurasia [4] and North America [6]. The word juglans is the classic Latin name of walnut, meaning nut of Jupiter.


Black walnut is native to the eastern United States, from southern Minnesota east to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York; south to South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama; west to Texas; and north through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

The Tree

Black walnut trees reach heights of 120 ft (37 m), with a diameter of over

3 ft (1 m).

The Wood


The sapwood of black walnut is nearly white, while the heartwood is light brown to dark, chocolate brown, often with a purplish cast and darker streaks. The wood is heavy, hard, and stiff and has high shock resistance.

Working Properties: Black walnut is straight grained and easily worked with hand tools and by machine. It finishes beautifully and holds paint and stain exceptionally well. It also glues and polishes well.

Durability: Rated as very resistant to heartwood decay–one of the most durable woods, even under conditions favorable to decay.

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i've used it a lot and have always been pleased with it. it's a fairly dense wood and guitars made from it sustain very well and are generally very much like an ash body. maybe a little brighter than mahogany. 'course i'm from the school of thought that says if it's a hardwood the pups are going to make most of the difference in how your guitars


here's a link to pics of my latest walnut bodied guitar.

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