With an unceasing worldwide demand, Gabon Ebony remains one of the world’s most expensive exotic woods. Trees are small and slow growing, contributing to its high price tag. Given this, finding long, undefective boards is quite rare; such pieces always command premium prices. Its signature jet black heartwood (which can sometimes contain streaks of browns, golden browns and even greys), combined with its great strength, durability and density, gives it universal appeal with instrument craftsmen.
Its dark neutral color and ability to hold detail makes it very popular with wood turners and carvers, also. The wood’s very high oil content yields a magnificent natural luster when sanded, although, as would be expected, this characteristic can pose challenges when gluing.
Sustainability: Populations from Madagascar are listed in CITES Appendix II and is categorized as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.
Common Uses: Small ornamental items, such as piano keys and other musical instrument parts; stringed instrument figerboards; pool cues; carvings; turned objects; and other small specialty items.
Comments: Perhaps the most sought-after exotic wood in the world, as it is the traditional fingerboard “wood of choice” for orchestral stringed instruments (violins, violas, cellos, etc.) with its typically deep jet black heartwood. In the past few years, both the quality and supply of what has been made available to US markets has dipped, dramatically. In the face of an unwavering demand, this has resulted in greatly increased wholesale and retail pricing.