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Mahogany Types


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For an electric? There's more overlap between species in terms of weight and tone than there are differences.

Basically, the woods I consider 'mahogany' are:

1) The true mahoganies. Swietenia Macrophylla, Microphylla and Cubanesis. Big leaf (aka Honduran, these days), small leaf and cuban (which is gorgeous, hard to find, expensive, and best used for acoustics, where the differences between mahoganies are more noticeable). Medium weight, fine grain, work very nicely with hand and machine tools. A true pleasure.

2) The african varieties.

2a) Khaya (ivorensis, and other) species, bit pinker (in general), usually a bit lighter, coarser grain, more interlocked, slightly more annoying to plane smooth, broadly similar texture, weight, feel and sound, but varies greatly from piece to piece, as it's a name used for a number of species. Love it for bodies, more careful selection required for necks.

2b) The entandophragma species. Utile, or Sipo mahogany is medium weight, perhaps a bit heavier than Khaya, more towards the yellow/gold/brown than the pink, bit stiffer too. Great for bodies and necks. Then there's sapele, who's species name I forget, which is heavier, stiffer, stronger than all of the above (in general), has a slightly 'grayer' appearance (less warm, although lstill ooks great when finished) than all of the above. The african varieites often have ribbon stripe colour, some of them can have really wild figuring (google quilt sapele, for example). Sapele is a great neck wood, can be used for bodies, but is sometimes a touch on the heavy side.

All of the above are in the same family (botanically), Meliciae (if I'm spelling it right), all work similarly, all sound similar, all are good tonewoods. I tend to use African varieites for bodies (cheaper, just as good sounding, easier to find quality, large pieces), honduran for necks (on acoustics, mostly) and back/side sets, sapele for necks and back/side sets.

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I´ve also read about Primavera or White Mahogany. I´ve used the search function and apparently hasn´t been used much by builders here in the forum. I´m interested in it because it grows down here in Mexico. Is it an African variety, by any chance?

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For an electric? There's more overlap between species in terms of weight and tone than there are differences.

Basically, the woods I consider 'mahogany' are:

1) The true mahoganies. Swietenia Macrophylla, Microphylla and Cubanesis. Big leaf (aka Honduran, these days), small leaf and cuban (which is gorgeous, hard to find, expensive, and best used for acoustics, where the differences between mahoganies are more noticeable). Medium weight, fine grain, work very nicely with hand and machine tools. A true pleasure.

2) The african varieties.

2a) Khaya (ivorensis, and other) species, bit pinker (in general), usually a bit lighter, coarser grain, more interlocked, slightly more annoying to plane smooth, broadly similar texture, weight, feel and sound, but varies greatly from piece to piece, as it's a name used for a number of species. Love it for bodies, more careful selection required for necks.

2b) The entandophragma species. Utile, or Sipo mahogany is medium weight, perhaps a bit heavier than Khaya, more towards the yellow/gold/brown than the pink, bit stiffer too. Great for bodies and necks. Then there's sapele, who's species name I forget, which is heavier, stiffer, stronger than all of the above (in general), has a slightly 'grayer' appearance (less warm, although lstill ooks great when finished) than all of the above. The african varieites often have ribbon stripe colour, some of them can have really wild figuring (google quilt sapele, for example). Sapele is a great neck wood, can be used for bodies, but is sometimes a touch on the heavy side.

All of the above are in the same family (botanically), Meliciae (if I'm spelling it right), all work similarly, all sound similar, all are good tonewoods. I tend to use African varieites for bodies (cheaper, just as good sounding, easier to find quality, large pieces), honduran for necks (on acoustics, mostly) and back/side sets, sapele for necks and back/side sets.

not TOO hard to find.

http://cgi.ebay.com/HM-077-EXOTIC-CUBAN-MA...1742.m153.l1262

http://cgi.ebay.com/MH-027-EXOTIC-CUBAN-MA...1713.m153.l1262

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Primavera-wood database

I don't believe that is an actual member of the so called mahogany family, at least from what I could tell. I'm sure Mattia or Rich would more readily know. I've seen the wood available at several places and seems to be a perfectly useable hardwood for building, so long as its properly dried. There were two other species that came under the name of primevera, but I think thats probably the common one, though I'm not 100% on that. It does refer to it as white mahogany somewhere in there, so I'd bet its what you have around. So many woods have false nicknames that can be confusing like Brazilian Cherry which is usually Jatoba and not in the cherry family, identifying the scientific names seems to be the only real way to know what you are looking at for certain.

Meliaceae family for mahoganies, I copied and pasted, so don't feel bad, lol.

Edited by jmrentis
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I found three references to Primavera as Cybistax donnellsmithii (obviously not in the Meliaceae), Khaya anthotheca and Swietenia mahagoni...And by the link you posted, it certainly has to be available down here! I didn´t know about that page, thanks! Apparently, as you pointed out jmrentis, the nickname White Mahogany is widely used. I have no idea if any of these woods, that are apparently similar to mahogany in its uses would be also similar as tonewoods. Hope someone has an input on that!

Edited by MexNoob
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Cuban's qausi unobtainable commercially, much like Rio rosewood. The odd set or pieces here and there, yes, but not in big board form like all the other mahoganies are still more or less available. You can find it, some of it even plantation grown (Blue Moon hardwoods or something, they have some), but I can't head down to the lumber yard and pick through the piles for the good bits. Which is how I get my mahogany normally.

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I found three references to Primavera as Cybistax donnellsmithii (obviously not in the Meliaceae), Khaya anthotheca and Swietenia mahagoni...And by the link you posted, it certainly has to be available down here! I didn´t know about that page, thanks! Apparently, as you pointed out jmrentis, the nickname White Mahogany is widely used. I have no idea if any of these woods, that are apparently similar to mahogany in its uses would be also similar as tonewoods. Hope someone has an input on that!

Trade names are really confusing. "White Mahogany" will be used to describe many species as a common name.

Brosium Uleanum(congona)

Cybistax donnellsmithii(Primavera)

Khaya anthotheca

Several Eucalyptus sp.

All of these seem to be refered to as "white Mahogany", and I am sure there are more. Prima Vera would be the species most commonly traded for instruments(Note; Khaya sp. is certainly used , but would be refered to as "African Mahogany" usually. Prima Vera would mainly come from central America/Mexico. It is a very nice wood for solid bodies.

Wood traded as Khaya actually is a group of several species, and that is important because amoungst the commercially traded grouping there can be a significant difference in the properties of this wood. Not all "Khaya" is the same.

"Cuban Mahogany"(Swietenia mahagoni), is rare. It actually was the original commercially popular Mahogani and was driven to the point of near extinction. There are few old growth bits that may be out there, but they are extreamly rare. There are possibly a few examples of blow down recovery, but nothing much. There are also plantation grown examples, but that wood generally starts at about $25 bd. ft. The demand on the bits of this wood that does make it to market is high. Can't say one way or the other how those bits made it to market on ebay, but don't count on regularly finding any significant quantity at relatively low prices(less than $20 bd. ft.).

Honduran/Brazilian Mahogany is now on CITES 2 and supply is dropping(a greater percentage is now plantation grown stock).

Sapele is not cheap compaired to Khaya or even Primavera. They are all in about the same price range based on quality and grade. All still have strong commercial availability. Really they are all potentially fine instrument wood. Buy the good cuts :D Demand on these species will continue to rise as they become the mainstay of many trades.

A smart person would buy a fair quantity of nice cuts at a good price on this stuff now(fill your needs for a good while), and step back from the crazy wood markets. We saw a relatively less known wood like Black Limba gain popularity, price went up. Then supply was cut off for the most part for about 18 months. This lead to prices that rose to two to three times what the price had been, and then as the supply opened back up and prices came back to about where they were(maybe a 5-10% boost, but that would be expected). It gives you a picture of how fast the commercial supply and stocks can be depleted, and how demand will kick these prices all over the place. Find what you like working with and stock up a bit with good cuts, you can get around all that BS.

Rich

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Hi, Neil Beith! I guess it sounds like I´m hijacking your thread...sorry for that! At least, it´s not off-topic and I find the responses to your thread fairly informative and interesting. I was wondering the same as you, especially because I intend to use local tonewoods, but no one here (Mexico) could tell me about the Primavera tone qualities.

All of these seem to be refered to as "white Mahogany", and I am sure there are more. Prima Vera would be the species most commonly traded for instruments(Note; Khaya sp. is certainly used , but would be refered to as "African Mahogany" usually. Prima Vera would mainly come from central America/Mexico. It is a very nice wood for solid bodies.

That´s enough for me :D

Edited by MexNoob
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Also; As Mattia Mentioned the Meliaceae family is "the Mahogany" family. Other woods with similar properties or looks may also be traded as some type of "Mahogany", but these are the ones that actually fall in the same family. A quick copy paste from a site(I don't memorize this stuff :D )

Some economically important species belong to this family:

Neem Azadirachta indica (India)

Crabwood Tree Carapa procera (South America and Africa)

Cedrela Cedrela odorata (Central and South America; timber also known as Spanish-cedar)

Sapele Entandrophragma cylindricum (tropical Africa)

Utile or Sipo, Entandrophragma utile (tropical Africa)

Bossé Guarea cedrata (Africa)

Bossé Guarea thompsonii (Africa)

Ivory Coast Mahogany Khaya ivorensis (tropical Africa)

Senegal Mahogany Khaya senegalensis (tropical Africa)

Chinaberry or Bead Tree, Melia azedarach (Queensland, India and southern China)

Mahogany Swietenia species (tropical Americas)

Australian Redcedar Toona australis (Australia), often included in Toona ciliata (seq.)

Toon, surian (int. trade) Toona ciliata (India, southeast Asia and eastern Australia)

Genus;

Chinese Rice Flower (Aglaia odorata)Aglaia

Anthocarapa

Aphanamixis

Astrotrichilia

Azadirachta

Cabralea

Calodecarya

Capuronianthus

Carapa

Cedrela Seven Species- fissilis, hirsuta, huberi, lilloi, montana, salvadorensis, tonduzii (Spanish Cedar)

Chisocheton

Chukrasia

Cipadessa

Dysoxylum

Ekebergia

Entandrophragma Entandrophragma cylindricum(Sapele),Entandrophragma utile(Sipo)

Guarea - cedrata, thompsonii (Bosse)

Heckeldora

Humbertioturraea

Khaya -anthotheca, grandifoliola, ivorensis, madagascariensis, senegalensis (Khaya or African Mahogany)

Lansium

Lepidotrichilia

Lovoa- trichilioides(African Walnut or Tigerwood), swynnertonii

Malleastrum

Melia

Munronia

Naregamia

Neobeguea

Owenia

Pseudobersama

Pseudocarapa

Pseudocedrela

Pterorhachis

Reinwardtiodendron

Ruagea

Sandoricum

Schmardaea

Soymida

Sphaerosacme

Swietenia- mahagoni(Cuban Mahogany), macrophylla(Honduran or Genuine Mahogany), humilis(Honduran Mahogany)

Synoum

Toona -calantas (Philippine Mahogany, Note;In naming or designating the seven non-mahogany Philippine woods Tanguile, Red Lauan, White Lauan, Tiaong, Almon, Mayapis, and Bagtikan, the term ‘‘mahogany’’ may be used but only when prefixed by the word ‘‘Philippine’’ (e.g., ‘‘Philippine mahogany table’’), due to the long standing usage of that term. Examples of improper use of the term ‘‘mahogany’’ include reference to Red Lauan as ‘‘Lauan mahogany’’ or to White Lauan as ‘‘Blond Lauan mahogany’’. Such woods, however, may be described as ‘‘Red Lauan’’ or ‘‘Lauan’’ or ‘‘White Lauan’’, respectively. The term ‘‘Philippine mahogany’’ will be accepted as a name or designation of the seven woods named above. Such term shall not be applied to any other wood, whether or not grown on the Philippine Islands. ), sureni(indonisian Mahogany), sinensis(Chinese Mahogany), febrifuga (Vietnam Mahogany), ciliata(Indian Mahogany).

Trichilia

Turraea

Turraeanthus

Vavaea

Walsura

Xylocarpus

All I can say is it gets VERY confusing when "trade names" come into play. Many species that are labled "mahogany" have little to due with how closely related they are to Swietenia mahagoni, which is obviously the original source of popularity for woods with these charictoristics.

Rich

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