Ko'olau makes some of the finest ukuleles in the world. I'm a little partial as I have two CS Tenor models ( Rosewood back and sides / Cedar top ) I use for everything. As well as several solid-body tenors and we carry their Pono line of ukes at our Funky Frets Music Store.
- Mahogany top, back, and sides (All Mahogany) - This is a traditional combination used for many years by many famous makers such C.F. Martin Company for guitars and ukuleles. warm and mellow tone. Very even note equalization. The most traditional combination of woods for an ‘ukulele have been either all Koa or all Mahogany.
- Mahogany back and sides with Spruce or Cedar top - with the addition of Spruce or Cedar to the top of a guitar or ukulele the overall tonal range is increased. In other words, because Spruce or Cedar are technically “soft” woods, with more tensile flexibility, they can vibrate more freely and thus create clearer and pronounced treble and bass notes. Again, not better, just different.
- Mango is a wood we are using more often. It’s usually plentiful (as long as it’s not mango season, when cutting down a mango tree is very popular). Mango wood grain is sometime unpredictable, and so we only select some, and reject most. The appearance is wildly beautiful. And on our fancy models we try to use the most figured and curly grain. As for tone, Mango is similar to Mahogany in weight, density, and tone.
- Acacia Koa top, back, and sides (available on Ko’olau models only): somewhat similar to Mahogany, but due to it’s density and weight (41lb/ft and .55sg, compared to Mahogany at 34lb/ft and .54sg), Koa produces a brighter, more projecting tone.
- Acacia Preta similar to Acacia Koa, similar density, lighter weight. Warm tone.
- Acacia (Koa or Preta) with a cedar or spruce top. As mentioned above, cedar and spruce are soft woods and flex and vibrate more freely than hardwoods. Thus more projection and a wider tonal range.
- Ebony: the ebony we use is a rare species of ebony. The most common ebony used throughout the centuries has been from Africa, usually called Madagascar Ebony. And traditionally has been all black (though much of it is stained black because the accepted perception of ebony wood is black).
The Difference Between Spruce and Cedar
Both are considered “soft” woods, from evergreen trees. Both have a tensile flexibility that’s different from “hard” woods, such as Mahogany, Koa, Rosewood, Maple, and Ebony. Due to their flexible or “bendable” nature they are excellent as top soundboard woods. Simply stated, when strings are played the top vibrates, which causes a “pumping” action, and thus projecting tone out the soundhole. Although Spruce and Cedar both great top woods, due to their density and specific gravity (weight) the tone is different. Spruce is slightly harder than cedar, and it’s cell structure is different, and so tone and volume is bright, clear, and projecting. Cedar is softer and thus produces a warmer tone, somewhat like an aged spruce. Our Spruce is Englemann Spruce from British Columbia Canada. And our Cedar is Western Red Cedar from Vancouver Island Canada.
Tony Graziano Ukuleles, Tony Graziano has been building musical instruments since 1969 and became interested in the Ukulele in 1978 , and then in 1995, after several years of building both guitars and Ukuleles, Tony began building Ukuleles almost exclusively. Tony likes to think of the ukulele as an instrument of the millennium. Its compact, easy to travel with, and brings joy to all who hear and play them. All Tony Graziano Ukes are built by Tony in his Santa Cruz shop using of the finest woods available.
Check out the Tony Graziano Ukuleles web site.
Great for a enhanced bass tone. Works well in baritones with a spruce top.(as shown here) very good low end.
A non endangered tropical wood. Great bright sound and great unique look. Bamboo literally grows like grass.
A very pretty domestic hardwood.
Bright sound, clearer treble response.
An excellent Top wood with a warm full sound. Makes for a louder Uke with more sustain. Shown here on a Uke with Koa sides.
Similar to spruce, but with a "darker" sound. Responds quickly with no break-in time required.
Click on ukulele wood image for larger view.
- Mya-Moe Ukulele - Gordon & Char Mayer and Aaron Keim - a lutherie team that builds professional-grade custom ukuleles in a variety of models.
- Dana Bourgeois - link
- Regarding Top Woods by James Goodall - link
- Hawaii Forest Industry Association (HFIA) - link
- Ko'olau Guitar & Ukulele Company - link
- Growing Koa: A Hawaiian Legacy Tree - link
Acme Archtops Luthiers
Acme Archtops builds laminated wood parts for archtop guitar builders. Our tops are laminated from solid spruce, in three layers of approximately .050in (1 1/4 mm) each. These robust layers give you leeway for voicing, and there’s a lot of material there for scratch and dent rehabilitation just before you apply finish. The show layer of the top is the face you see; we pick this for appearance. The bottom layer, that is, the bottom of the top plate, will almost inevitably contain small sap streaks and the like; these are not structural defects, but only cosmetic, and it would take a very special effort to see this surface inside the built guitar. All layers of spruce are vertical grain.
Alaska Specialty Woods Tonewood
We’ve been supplying the FINEST Sitka Spruce Soundboard material available for over 10 years; processing over 50,000 guitar tops worth of Sitka Spruce and Western Red Cedar & Alaskan Yellow Cedar annually to luthiers, manufacturers and Builders of Acoustic Instruments.
Allred Associates Lutherie
If your business or craft has a need for accurate duplicates in wood, this copy carver will revolutionize your work. Now you can quickly and precisely duplicate almost any shape. Gemini’s patented design is an extremely rigid structure, producing duplicates unmatched by flimsy competitive carvers. The balance is perfect, resulting in fine-touch control of the router. The Gemini carving machine creates a precise duplicate piece requiring only minor sanding to prepare the wood for finishing.
Bow River Specialty Woods Tonewood
We offer figured and exotic tonewoods for your acoustic guitar, electric guitar and bass guitars, violins, and mandolins. You can enjoy a variety of these in our Instrument Kits, guitar kits, archtop guitar kits, violin kits, mandolin kits, and more. Tonewoods include figured/curly maple, quilted maple, spalted maple, black walnut, engelmann spruce, sitka spruce, red or adirondack spruce, western red cedar, as well as exotics, such as Bubinga, East Indian Rosewood, Ebony, Cocobolo, Figured Mahogany, Narra, Padauk, Sapele, Wenge, and Ziricote for luthiers and craftsmen.
Colonial Tonewoods Tonewood
Located in Barhamsville Virginia, Colonial Tonewoods is a specialty company dealing in high-grade traditional and alternative tonewoods. In a world where big business is the norm, we deviate from this standard by getting to know our customers one at a time. We continually strive to procure the rarest, finest quality tonewoods at competitive prices.
Curly Koa Guitar Wood Tonewood
Acoustic guitar, archtop guitar, electric guitar, and ukulele wood sets Ukulele wood sets of Hawaiian Koa. Curly Koa Guitar Wood is one of the largest suppliers of curly Koa guitar wood for guitar building anywhere in the world. Located in Hawaii, we are able to obtain only the finest pieces of this rare exotic wood for guitar making. We have the largest luthier supply of quartersawn Hawaiian Koa for guitar soundboards, backs, and sides.
DM Guitars Luthiers
MacPherson guitars are uniquely hand made in the United Kingdom using tried and tested materials and keeping alive the traditional working methods of the "Luthier" All of the work is carried out from one location in the Essex based workshop, exceptional attention to detail is paid to every instrument ensuring the highest quality, durability and playability of each individual instrument regardless of its price tag.
Exotic Lumber Inc. Tonewood
Exotic Lumber Inc. has its origins in South Africa. Started by Bill van der Westhuizen in Durban in 1988, Country Woods Corporation (www.countrywoods.co.za) has grown into 3 branch locations totalling 65 000 sq ft of warehousing, over 1.15 million board feet inventory, dry kilns, millwork facilities and employing 60 people. When the van der Westhuizen family moved to Annapolis Maryland in 1994, Exotic Lumber was started and expanded in 2002 with the joining of partner Neil Gager. Exotic Lumber operates as a specialty lumber yard and has expanded into two operations servicing the Washington DC / Baltimore areas. We also ship lumber to customers throughout the United States, and with over 130 species in stock have one of the widest selections of lumber available on the East Coast.
Exotic Woods Company Inc. Tonewood
The company was founded by Gulab Gidwani, a mechanical engineer by profession, in 1975 to provide musical instrument woods to Gibson Co., which, at that time, was owned by Norlin Industries. At the age of 7 Gulab moved with his family from Pakistan to Bombay, India. He finished off his grade schooling and as a young adult decided to make the trek to the United States to earn a degree in engineering. Post schooling Gulab worked for the government making ammunition machines for the NAVY.
Georgia Hardwoods Inc. Tonewood
Georgia Hardwoods has been a leading distributor of quality plywood, lumber and hardware products since 1988. We have partnered with some of the industries’ most well-known vendors to give you the quality and service that is demanded. In 1997, Georgia Hardwoods entered into manufacturing by producing high quality raised panel doors, drawer fronts and MDF thermofoil wrapped doors.
Gilmer Wood Company Tonewood
Gilmer Wood Company started business in 1978 and since that time we have supplied thousands of woodworkers and manufacturers with the world’s finest woods. We are a small company with six employees and just three of us doing all the milling and wood selection. Between the three, we have over 75 years of experience which allows us to search and find wood that will meet the most stringent standards. We can select wood for a certain color, grain, size, and/or figure. We are firm believers in well-seasoned wood and to that end we can offer material that has been aging in our warehouses for up to 30 years. Our principle aim is customer satisfaction and we all take pride in fulfilling this goal.
Goodman Guitars Luthiers
My work is based on traditional techniques, with variations drawn from over 30 years of experience building fine instruments. I am always seeking the best tonewood and have been collecting and aging my guitar wood for decades. Each and every instrument I create is a one of a kind piece, lovingly hand-crafted. Each board has it’s own characteristics, no two trees are identical. Every guitar has it’s own voice, customized for taste and playing style. My passion is in bringing out the essence of the wood and the voice of the guitar. My joy is in knowing that all of my instruments are loved and cherished.
Since our inception in 1983, Grizzly Industrial®, Inc. has grown into one of the largest machinery companies in the United States. Our products can be found in all sizes of shops from the large industrial production users to the smaller cabinet and machine shops. We have the widest product selection under one brand in the world and we sell direct to the user, cutting out the dealer network, and resulting in lower prices to you. We ship 99% of all orders the same day and with over a million square feet of warehouse space packed with inventory in three strategic locations around the country, your order can get to you within a few days.
Guitar Woods Tonewood
Guitar Woods, Australias first and most experienced supplier of musical instrument timbers and luthier supplies. Would you like to log yourself in? Or would you prefer to create an account? Since 1982 we have been sourcing top quality tone woods, parts, and tools from around the world for professional luthiers and hobbyists alike. Over the years Guitar Woods and Gilet Guitars have built a reputation for top quality products, friendly service and expert advice.
Hula Monkey Ukuleles Luthiers
Hula Monkey Ukuleles are handmade in Arnold, Maryland by luthier Glenn Bosshard. Each Hula Monkey ukulele is made one at a time and takes several weeks to complete. A variety of materials are used to construct a Hula Monkey uke mainly focusing on continental USA hardwoods but other exotic species are also used. Each piece of wood that goes into our ukes is hand selected for the best tonal qualities and most pleasing aesthetic.
Madinter Trade, S.L. Tonewood
Madinter was created in 2001. Since then, it has become a leading company in the sector by distributing its products to all 5 continents, having the most reputable guitar brands among its customers. Our mission is to supply the music manufacturing industry and any person or entity that builds musical instruments. Our offices are in Cerceda, Madrid, from where we deliver our products to more than 40 countries.
Northern Tonewood Tonewood
Musical Forests Inc. (Northern Tonewood Company) is a producer and seller of naturally aged tonewoods for musical instrument making. We cater to the handmade musical instrument building sector with our high grade guitar tops, violin tops, backs & sides, necks, drop tops, and other parts for acoustic and solid body instruments. Our specialty is in the preparation of woods for top materials, for any of your musical instrument making needs. We also offer Luthier Books, Plans and Accessories which are listed at the bottom of each product page.
Notable Woods Tonewood
We have been been supplying musical instrument tonewood to luthiers and factories since 1999. We specialize in top, back and side sets for guitar, ukulele, mandolin, electric, bass, Weissenborn and other stringed instruments. Ukulele wood sets of Hawaiian Koa, Oregon Claro Walnut (Walnut or Sitka Top) and Alaska Sitka Spruce in Soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone sizes.
Rutland Plywoods Corporation (RPC) Tonewood
Rutland Plywood Corporation (RPC) was founded in 1957 as a hardwood plywood supplier to the rope and reel industries. The company remains in its original location in Rutland, Vermont, central to a strong supply on Northern Hardwoods and skilled workforce. Building on this foundation, and owing to consistent innovation, Rutland Plywood has become the world’s premium manufacturer of specialty hardwood composites for a highly diversified and global customer base.
D&D Tonewood International Tonewood
D&D Tonewood International is based in Zagreb/Croatia. In the wood business for more than ten years, the company very soon specialized in maple from Bosnia (acer pseudoplatanus) All our wood comes from Bosnia. Bosnian maple is considered to be the finest wood quality for instruments and is in high demand all over the world. It has been widely used by Old Italian Masters and is still being employed with this long standing tradition by violin makers of today.
Winkler Woods LLC Tonewood
Winkler Woods LLC was formed in 2002 by the fourth generation Koa wood industry leader, Jorma Winkler, to supply Exotic Hawaiian Woods to customers worldwide, both in lumber and veneer form. The Winklers have been a major distributor of Hawai’ian Hardwoods in Hawai’i for the past few decades. We specialize in supplying your unique Koa, Mango, and Ohia Hawaiian Hardwood needs.
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Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books! — Peter Rhee
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