Home :: Wood Types

Wood Types

Many types of wood are used in the construction of ukuleles. Here are some of the most common woods used...

Each of these woods are unique in the beuaty and tone they bring to the ukulele.

Bamboo... It is the rapid growth and natural regeneration properties of bamboo that are primarily responsible for the “green”,"protect the earth" reputation for bamboo.

Bamboo for stringed musical instruments is growing in availability and popularity. Although bamboo has a number of attributes that make it a suitable stringed musical instruments, one of the primary marketing points has been its environmental benefits. The world has plenty of bamboo available, and can easily get bunches more.

We believe in bamboo in stringed musical instruments because it is an amazing rapidly renewable resource, and by supporting the use of this beautiful and versatile material as a music wood replacement, we are all helping protect the rare woods and keep the world a greener place!

Bamboo musicwood in you uke will give you the natural beauty of hardwood without having you feel that your have made a detrimental effect on our environment.

Bamboo is an excellent alternative to tree wood because bamboo can grow wood faster than any tree. Because bamboo is a rapid growing grass and not wood, it can be harvested every 5-7 years, unlike 15-100 years for many tree wood. This makes bamboo a very environmentally friendly ukulele.

And bamboo ukuleles are strong! Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind in a typhoon.

Lastly.... why do you buy ukuleles anyway? For the sound, and you will not be disappointed in the voicing of this bambo ukulele. The new ukuleles of bamboo start out with great robust sound and get even better when the voice of the instrument opens up.

Koawoods... Koa is the best-known hardwood of the Hawaiian Islands. Acacia koa is a native forest tree, unique to Hawaii, and held in reverence. Koa means bold. When we think of Hawaiian ukuleles, we always know that many of the best sounding and most beautiful ukuleles are made of Koawood. Sweet warm voiced.

Hard rock maple: Clear, heavy and very resisant, trebly sound with strong attack, used on ukulele necks, bodies and tops.

Mahogany: Medium density, redish in color. has the tendencie to be bright and bassy, excellent to be used with maple. Used manly on bodies. Many of the vintage ukuleles are made of mahogany. Does not have the breath-taking grain patterns, but mahogany is one of my favorites in sound.

Mango woodProperly cut and dried the lumber from many fruit and nut trees can be made suitable for the manufacture of ukuleles. An interesting new ukulele is being made from mango wood.

The mango is best known for its tropical fruit, yet mango wood is a hard and dense wood and is an excellent music wood when properly seasoned and kiln dried. The great news is that mango wood is not rare and using mango wood does not reduce the supply of this delightful fruit. Once the mango reaches a certain age, it ceases to produce fruit and is harvested for its wood.

Because mango trees are almost always replanted when cut down, mango wood makes for a very responsible choice of making ukuleles, and mango wood is not endangered. Mango Ukes have a clear bright tone, similar to walnut.

Rosewood: Exist in diffrent colors and textures, today used manly on fretboards. The sound of rosewood body ukes is sweet and round. Braziaian Rosewood is long gone, yet other varieties are still available.

Redwood: Very hard and resistant, some seems kind of bassye.

Imbuia: Very figured,hard and exotic. Beautiful grain patterns... used on tops and on back of instruments.

Ebony: Primarily used in Fretboards. Same black wood as used for the black keys on a piano. has a very distinguishing smell when you work ebony in the shop.

Maple: Good density and resistant, very trebly, there are many type of maple: flamed, curly, burl, quilted and spalted... Beautiful grain patterns

Spalted Wood: About Spalted Wood -- The spalting that we find so attractive is the visible changes to the wood resulting from fungal attack which is part of the natural decay process. Individual spalting patterns on a specific piece of wood are unpredictable.... so each spalted ukulele is a one-of-a-kind instrument.

There are many variables affecting the process. These include wood species, temperature, humidity, pH, adjacent soil types, fungus spores in the local environment, and probably many other variables.

Many times only a small portion of a log will have usable spalting pattern.

Many types of wood will spalt. Some such as maple, mango and birch are known for a more attractive spalting appearance. Looking for spalted wood is like going on a treasure hunt.

Spruce: A very close grained wood the produces a rich, vibrant tone. One of my favorite medium priced instrument types have spruce soundboards and mahogany sides and backs.

Cedar: Light to reddish wood used primarly for sound boards. One of the best sounding uke I every played was made by a local luthier from cedar wood slats from his mother's back yard fence that had been standing over 40 years.

Composite Woods:What is "composite" construction of ukuleles? Is it some plastic with wood grain printed on it.... or is it really wood?

Small stringed instruments have to have thin construction to sound like anything. The sound board is 0.0625" thick. And wood being that thin is apt to crack easily or have grain separations when it got too dry.

To avoid these difficulties, music instrument maker developed composite materials..... In one word, these composites are essentially "plywood".... but not the cheap plywood with junk stuffed in the middle that they use to cover houses.

These composites are made for musical instruments. With composites, soundboards can be thinner.... and louder..... and typical grain splits are cracks are a thing of the past.

Yes, fine custom-made instruments still use solid woods in construction. But the cost of such fine instruments are 4 times and more greater than the "composite" wood instruments. Well-made composite instruments, such as the Hohner Lanikai line have great sound are are a great value for the money. If you can afford the custom-made solid-wood instruments, go for it... but carefully care for them.

Nato: Roy, I see several ukes that say they use "NATO" wood.... what is that?

Nato wood, also known as Eastern Mahogany, is a relieble, strong wood used on guitar necks. It is a value-priced wood used more in the lower cost instruments. However, Nato still embodies all of the properties of more commonly used.... and more expensive mahogany. Not a bad wood at all for most ukes.... except the finest ones.

There is no "BEST".... as beauty is in the eye of the beholder.... so is the best wood for you ukulele. It is a matter of personal choice. Have Fun!