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Mahogany and the cost of it....yikes.

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by guitarbuilder, Nov 30, 2020.

  1. wadeeinkauf

    wadeeinkauf Tele-Afflicted

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    I have read that the American mahogany is native to South Florida and Cuba. It is also called Cuban mahogany. It was in very common use in the US years ago and some early Gibson guitars used it..It is now protected but , according to this source, does legally come on the market from time to time after hurricanes. Now that would be a guitar with a story!
     
  2. otterhound

    otterhound Poster Extraordinaire

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    Blow downs and dangerous trees can be legally harvested . They still require the paperwork for CITIES and Lacey to be legal to sell . The Mahogany that you speak of is the true Mahogany . The others are in the same family , but not the true Mahogany that is often referred to albeit mistakenly . This misconception is common . You only need to look at the botanical names and it will be obvious .
     
  3. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    So the Khaya AKA African Mahogany blank arrived today. Nothing wrong with the blank per se except it looks more like Sapele than Genuine Mahogany. It weighs a lot too. I'll ponder the situation for a bit before I do anything with it. I am spoiled by using the real stuff all those years, that's for sure. I found this today. It mentions the fuzz that @wadeeinkauf mentioned.

    African mahogany is a common alternative - Woodshop News
     
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  4. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    "Genuine" Honduran Mahogany is pricey stuff :).

    I have a thing for one-piece bodies and finding prime blanks with a reasonable weight requires the outlay of some serious bucks. I won't shell out top dollar without knowing the board foot weight.

    Same thing goes for quality quarter-sawn neck blanks.

    There is only so much prime Honduran Mahogany.

    People in general, and some countries, are becoming more conscious of the worth of valuable natural resources, especially slow-growing types like prime Honduran Mahogany.

    If we want to be environmentally conscious, I suppose we ought to think about taking a hard look at alternative species with similar characteristics :).


    edit; Good Cuban Mahogany is right up there, priced like Honduran or higher because it's scarcer.



    .
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2020
  5. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I would only even consider using mahogany for bodies if I was doing a tribute model. There are plenty of alternatives and even more options if they are being painted. Korina/ White Limba might be a good way to go :). Butternut...is on the docket too one of these days.


    Limba (lesserknowntimberspecies.com)


    Butternut | The Wood Database - Lumber Identification (Hardwood) (wood-database.com)
     
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  6. pshupe

    pshupe Tele-Meister

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    Korina is harder and more expensive to get than geniune mahogany in large one piece body blanks, at least for me. Butternut is very similar to black walnut and a very good choice. It is becoming scarce in my area because of a fungus killing the tree. I have found some fairly light weight black walnut wood and will use that where it makes sense. There are lots of woods you can substitute for Mahogany, you just have to do some searching. I generally go by weight and the Wood Database is a great resource. Cuban mahogany is the true mahogany, swietenia mahogani. Honduran is probably closest and is also known as Genuine, Honduras, and Brazilian Mahogany. I have found African which is very light in colour as well as light in weight. It is about half the price and I will use it where I can. I weigh all my wood and will take African over Genuine based on the weight and colour of the wood.

    Cheers Peter.
     
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  7. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm pretty lucky in that I've got a few pieces squirrelled away, at least one body blanks, several necks, some acoustic back and sides, and one set of incredibly beautiful curly mahogany that will make a stunning little 00 or OM. I just buy wood when I see it and use it when its time.

    fwiw - I had a piece of "sipo" in the wood room that I had picked up somewhere and I used it for the neck of the fir classical. Not impressed, its kind of ugly and didn't finish well.
     
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  8. otterhound

    otterhound Poster Extraordinaire

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    From what I was told by a wood buyer from a manufacturer , Brazil is now allowing some mahogany to be harvested .
     
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  9. pshupe

    pshupe Tele-Meister

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    There are lots of countries harvesting mahogany and quite a few have managed plantations to do so. Lots of Central and South American countries have more recently started. FIJI has been doing this for years. There has been a few big changes in the last number of years. The big one was putting Honduran Mahogany on the CITES II schedule in 2003. It means you need documentation to ship it internationally. Also a few years ago, and I do not remember whether it was a convention or any part of a defined regulations but, exporting countries stopped exporting the raw material. So they could still sell the wood but it had to be made into a product inside the country. This was an effort to keep more of the proceeds in the country from which it originated. I think there were some loop holes there and you could export planks or body blanks but not a container of raw logs. These things change all the time and I'm not sure whether this has changed at all. This has really made the prices of genuine Mahogany sky rocket.

    I do not find the cost to be that bad and if I am building a custom guitar it may push the price up slightly but in the scheme of the overall price of the instrument it doesn't make that much difference. Although that may be because I live in Canada and we seem to be able to get it at a decent price, probably our proximity to the USA. People in the USA are probably the best situated to get decent access at reasonable prices. Obviously other than living in South America that is. For instance Europe, especially EU members have strict import rules and it is almost impossible to get reasonably priced genuine mahogany there, from what I have heard.

    Regards Peter.
     
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  10. nnieman

    nnieman Tele-Meister

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    I am in rural ontario (a couple hours from Peter) and african mahogany is cheap and plentiful at my local lumber store.

    White and black limba are not available locally but there are at least 3 places that stock them in ontario.
    Those same places stock honduran mahogany but its expensive.

    I have some old honduran mahogany but I will probably sell it - I prefer the light weight and tap tone of the african.
    I have had some old growth mahogany pass through my shop - the new stuff from the lumber stores doesn't seem like the same stuff.

    Walnut is plentiful around here (there are two in my back yard).
    Butternut is protected but there is lots around.

    Nathan
     
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  11. LeftFinger

    LeftFinger Friend of Leo's

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    Nathan
    I wanted to buy that 6 ft pc you had for sale but The freight would be too brutal
     
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  12. mefgames

    mefgames Friend of Leo's Double Platinum Supporter

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    Because of the current 2020 situation, my local hardwood provider no longer allows anyone in to hand pick wood as before, so I started using wood that has been stashed for years. A relative gave me about 6 Mahogany 3 x 3 and 4 x 4 posts that were 10 feet long 30 years ago. So, given that I can't get what I want, I'll use what I have. I built both this Vox IV bass and this desk out of the wood. Based on what the OP said, they might just be priceless. Actually, they kinda are, at least to me !!!


    IMG_0524.jpeg IMG_0571.jpeg
     
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  13. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

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    Curious, why not? I can tell its not Honduran, but the current harvest is really nice stuff, even straight grain, big pieces, etc. I just bought an all solid Martin, and the back sides and neck are Sapele, and it looks really nice, its more regular and even than I've seen in a long time. Of course, I understand that everybody is using it as a substitute now, and in that respect, it is becoming pedestrian.
     
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  14. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I don't like the ribbon effect that seems to show up a lot in it. Epiphone copies, especially SG's seem to use it and I'd prefer my stuff not to look like an Epiphone copy :), Not that there's anything wrong with them...except they aren't Gibsons....YMMV. I have a couple Epi's here with solid opaque colors.

    This blank of African I just got exhibits one piece that is quartered with ribbon like grain. Yuck.

    Epiphone Limited-Edition 1966 G-400 PRO Electric Guitar Cherry | Guitar Center
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2020
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  15. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    A thousand years ago when I built small racing power boats the most beautiful wood was something called "ribbon cut mahogany" - I realize now that it was probably sapele. What I wouldn't give for a bunch of that today.
     
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  16. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

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    Gotcha. I thought that might be it. Taylors struck me that way in their lower lines. Its a little like Luan, instant association with the cheapest furniture, woodwork, etc.
     
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  17. otterhound

    otterhound Poster Extraordinaire

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    Martin uses Sapele and it sounds just fine . I had a D-15L that was made with Sapele and it sounded exactly what it should have sounded like . As far as appearance . After 3 beers , no one cares what it looks like . I have seen and heard all Catalpa and Black Walnut guitars . Step out of the cage folks and have your ears listen instead of your eyes . If it was made by Gibson and carries their name , it isn't a freaking Epiphone or anything else .
     
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  18. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Here's why it's so expensive: A buddy of mine worked on a summer place for Lorne Michaels. It has a huge deck. They used clear 4-1/2 by 1-1/2 mahogany for the whole deck. Not "mahogany" but real swietenia mahogany. Yikes.
     
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  19. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Poster Extraordinaire

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    About 20 years ago, I bought six single piece Honduran mahogany blanks, big enough and thick enough to build a P Bass or J Bass sized instrument out of, for $300. Still have five of them left. I am obviously not a big user of mahogany. Had no idea it was crazily expensive now. Maybe it's time to sell 'em! :D
     
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  20. pshupe

    pshupe Tele-Meister

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    I haven't seen many $$$ quotes for Honduran Mahogany on here just a lot of very expensive and crazy expensive. If I buy rough lumber I can get them for about US$100 - US$120, if I get them from the "guitar tone wood room" they would be about US$160 for a body blank, which is about 15" x 20" x 1 3/4". Does this seem to be the going rate? I know I regularly see it for about the rough lumber cost online but that doesn't include shipping or taxes, so I think I am better off buying where I am. African is just a little under half that price.

    Cheers Peter.
     
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