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Sapele Vs. African Mahogany


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Hey guys,

A friend of mine recently showed me a supplier located pretty near to me here in London, and I contacted them for a quote, and got some good news. They've got 3" X 8" stock in 8' lengths of a number of different types of wood, and I was looking primarily at African Mahog (I think it's Khaya), and Sapele. It's all kiln dried, and I get boards like that for under £50, which is a great improvement over Craft Supplies prices, and will give me enough stock to cut off neck and 2-piece body blanks to exactly how I want them.

I'm really looking for opinions - have you used Khaya or Sapele? What's it like to work? To Finish? What does it sound like?

Price difference is minimal - Mahogany is only about £4 more expensive than Sapele, so that's not the issue - I just don't want more than one board right now - so what do you guys reckon? If you could choose only one, which one, and why?

I know Taylor use Sapele in their T5, and also one of their series of acoustics uses it for backs and sides, but I've not seen it widely used in Electrics, any real reason why? As for mahogany, well, everyone on here knows about it's usage!

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Hey guys,

A friend of mine recently showed me a supplier located pretty near to me here in London, and I contacted them for a quote, and got some good news. They've got 3" X 8" stock in 8' lengths of a number of different types of wood, and I was looking primarily at African Mahog (I think it's Khaya), and Sapele. It's all kiln dried, and I get boards like that for under £50, which is a great improvement over Craft Supplies prices, and will give me enough stock to cut off neck and 2-piece body blanks to exactly how I want them.

I'm really looking for opinions - have you used Khaya or Sapele? What's it like to work? To Finish? What does it sound like?

Price difference is minimal - Mahogany is only about £4 more expensive than Sapele, so that's not the issue - I just don't want more than one board right now - so what do you guys reckon? If you could choose only one, which one, and why?

I know Taylor use Sapele in their T5, and also one of their series of acoustics uses it for backs and sides, but I've not seen it widely used in Electrics, any real reason why? As for mahogany, well, everyone on here knows about it's usage!

I have used sapele for necks before and i have found no problem with it. It is a tiny bit softer than mahogany but there isn't too much difference other than colour, name and price.

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Sapele is very nice, it is very similar to mahogany in terms of workability and tone. If you can find ribbon-striped sapele, its figure is very cool. I actually have some quilted sapele that will one day become the back plate on a LP.

African Mahogany is just about the heaviest mahogany out there, though sapele is not far behind. It works great, although I'd be tempted to chamber it if I were building an axe of LP thickness.

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Sapele is a great wood for necks. It is a little stiffer, slightly heavier, and has a real nice flash when quartersawn. Very stable. Personally my top choice for necks (vs Khaya and Genuine Mahogany)

Khaya is generally a bit lighter than regular Mahogany, but pretty close. It is a great body wood, has super nice "Mahogany" color.

They are all great woods and very similar. You can't go wrong with any of them.

Peace,Rich

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Also, Sapele has a more typical Mahogony-ish golden brown color, whereas the African Mahogony is a really deep reddish color.

I would vote for the Sapele myself.

Sapele is really decepive looking when you compair dry look to finished. I think it almost has a copper look to it (which is sooooo cool). Here is a shot of dry Sapele vs sealed(wash coated) the difference is really supprising.-click. Khaya has a much more red-ish look( I think of Mahogany stain color ) v.s. copper (I wish I had a wet/dry pic uploaded, but I don't have one handy). Of course color can vary a lot. You can even buy "Blonde" Sapele.

Peace,Rich

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Thanks guys for all the advice.

I'm off to the supplier this weekend, I think I'm going to go for Sapele, (specially after that photo Rich - I'm liking the lighter colour as Drak described it and from the various pictures I've seen) seeing as they're so close in characteristics. If I find a particularly interesting piece of A. Mahogany then I might swing to that, but to be honest for what I've got planned I'm not really looking for incredibly flashy body woods, just some nice regular, straight grain for this. I'm planning a couple of solid-colour guitars (I've got some artist friends that I'm going to get to paint them once primed) and I'm also thinking of some nice, stripped down, minimalistic guitars, just a nice break from stained reds, blues and greens :D

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