Without question, the densest and most un-rosewood-like of the Dalbergia’s (for our money, at least!), African Blackwood is a consistent favorite with acoustic guitar luthiers, wood turners, carvers and fine furniture craftsmen, alike; it remains one of the world’s most coveted musical woods. African Blackwood often appears almost completely black, with its grains hardly discernible. (… thus the name. After sanding, a deep, very dark chocolate color emerges.)
Sustainability: This species is listed in CITES Appendix II and the IUCN reports it as being “near threatened.”
Common Uses: Musical instruments (guitars, clarinets, oboes, etc.), inlay, carving, tool handles, and other turned objects.
Comments: Given its trees’ very small profile and the fact that they also commonly grow somewhat twisted (rather than straight up), finding long, straight boards of African Blackwood is a daunting task. It is so dark and dense, it’s almost inconceivable that it is a true Dalbergia-genus rosewood. Expect exceptional pieces to command a premium, as prices have increased — while supplies have drastically decreased — over the last several years.