East Indian Rosewood can vary greatly in color, although its base color is most always brown; the shades can range from golden brown, to purplish or dark reddish brown. Secondary colors are often present. The wood’s colors will darken with continued UV exposure. EI Rw is generally less dense than most other rosewoods. Its grains are typically interlocked (although they can be irregular or straight), which can make it difficult to work. Care must be taken when finishing the wood, as it is not uncommon for the wood’s natural resins to impose if it is not first sealed. It has a medium texture.
Since the exportation ban on Brazilian Rosewood, more than twenty years ago, it has become a popular substitute with corporate guitar manufacturers (electric and acoustic, alike) — due in large part to its historically steady supply and relatively low cost (compared with other Dalbergia’s). By comparison to Braz Rw, its pores are smaller; but it is also a very durable wood, that’s not overly susceptible to bug damage / infestation and is considered stable after drying.
Sustainability: Listed in CITES Appendix II — part of the Dalbergia -genus worldwide exportation ban — and is classified as “Vulenerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Musical instruments (in particular, acoustic & electric guitars), furniture, cabinetry, veneer, structural paneling, turnings and specialty wood objects.
Comments: Most relevant, from our perspective, is the fact the many people refer to this wood as “Indian Rosewood,” which is inaccurate; Sissoo (Dalbergia Sissoo) is also known through its natural region as “Indian Rosewood.”
Also worth mentioning is Sonokeling: a true Dalbergia indigenous to Indonesia — where it is also known as “Jacaranda.” Many sources consider this wood and East Indian Rosewood to be of the same species (Dalbergia Latifolia), however tree farmers in Indonesia are not in agreement with this assessment. Our research into Indonesia and the cultivation of rosewood trees there revealed that back in the 1700’s, while the Indonesian islands were considered a colony of Holland, Dutch merchant colonists transplanted two major Dalbergia’s to Indonesia: Dalbergia Nigra (Brazilian Rosewood), from Brazil, and; Dalbergia Sissoo (Indian Rosewood), from India.
We view Indonesian Rosewood as a completely different species of Dalbergia, and see the topic as certainly worthy of further botanical investigation.