Indian Ebony is a true ebony which has been commonly used as a substitute for Gabon Ebony, due to its similar aesthetics. With a jet black base, occasional brown to muted orange striping (from mineral deposits) and a sap which can range from pale yellow to tan, one could certainly be forgiven for mistaking one for the other. That said, Indian Ebony is an exotic wood in very short supply — more so even than Gabon. Its grains are generally straight or irregular, and its texture is fine. It has a high natural oil content, which yields a high degree of luster.
It also is a less dense and hard ebony, having a Janka Hardness rating slightly over 20% less than Gabon (2430 lbf vs. 3080). It is a very popular wood with turners, as it turns and finishes beautifully, and has good working properties. Indian Ebony is also regularly employed as an acoustic guitar fretboard, although supplies to the US luthier industry is sometimes sporadic.
Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is reported by the IUCN as being “data deficient.” Due to a recent history of exploitation, exporting has been restricted and is closely monitored in India and Sri Lanka.
Common Uses: Inlay, carving, regional utility wood, furniture, musical instruments and turned objects.
Comments: If you’re a guitarist who likes the look of ebony, but prefers a softer feel, Indian Ebony might be the perfect choice. While this is a pricey true (Diospyros) ebony, its price is generally about half of what you’d spend on the aesthetically similar Gabon Ebony. Despite not being as oily as Gabon, Indian Ebony still produces a wonderful natural luster and sheen when finished.
Traditionally, this wood has been widely used and quite popular in its indigenous South Asia region. Due to past exportation restrictions being placed on it, Indian Ebony has come into even more limited supply, here in the US.
Available on backorder
Black Ebony, Ceylon Ebony, East Indian Ebony, Indian Ebony