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The Ukulele Guild of Hawaii Newsletter October 2001

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Did You Know

Gabriel Ashford of Gabriel's Wood

Did you know that Rosewood is a broad description that does not tell you what species of wood you are buying. The term Rosewood can be applied to anything from Bubinga to Douglas Fir (which is a species I highly treasure.) or Particle Board for all I care. So, when you are about to purchase a piece of wood, set of backs and sides, or fret board, ask your vender what species of Rosewood it is.
All live Rosewood species are called Dalberigia...something. Which are the latin descriptions the botanists have applied to them to help us determine what it really is. For example;
East Indian Rosewood = Dalberigia Latifolia
Cocobolo = Dalberigia Retusa
Brazilian Rosewood = Deliria Neyne
African Blackwood = Dalbergia Mononosilin
Hondurus Rosewood = Dalbergia Stevensoni
and so forth.
In short if your seller does not know he never cared to find out for himself, and hence does not know.
These are so many species of live Rosewood and hybrids (cousins and uncles of which some of them have not even been discovered, or used especially for instruments.)
So thanks to the Botanist doing that and naming all true Rosewood Dalbergia bla bla bla, Dalbergia tells us that it is indeed a live Rosewood and bla bla bla tells us what kind of Rosewood it is. Which brings us to the point that is important for us inspiring luthiers. Because bla bla bla also tells us which country and region it is from (climates) which also give us the properties of a particular species such as hardness, movement (stability), specific gravity and what the experience should be.
True Rosewood is a magical species of wood with colors that range from almost jet black, African Blackwood (Dalbergia Melanoxylon) to the many variations of reds, oranges, purples, browns of cocobola (Dalbergia Relusa). It can be swirly, striped, variegated, riddle it with black spider webbing or even colored.
However when finish properly if offers a depth beauty and nobility that all of them species have in common and a luster that is unsurpassed. Oh, and it has nothing to do with roses neither does it smell of them.
The smell is quite pungent and its dust when inhaled in large quantities irritate to poisonous. Actually kind of like it.

Aloha, Gabriel