African Blackwood - Wood in Focus / by Tom Sands

African Blackwood really is something special. The set that arrived in the workshop slightly blew our minds. We’ve had some pretty incredible wood coming through the shop lately, and this is no exception!

IMG_9927 2.jpg

African Blackwood (or Dalbergia Melanoxylon for the botanists among you) is found in Central and Southern Africa, mainly in Tanzania but as far north as Ethiopia, and as far west as the Senegal coast. In local communities, it’s referred to as the ‘Mpingo’ tree (fun trivia for those who can’t remember the Latin name). I built a OO and an OM out of some lovely Blackwood when I was working with Ervin, and the beauty of the wood made these builds especially rewarding. It’s got some gorgeous shimmering overtones, and holds many of the characteristics I favour in Rosewood. 

It’s worth noting that is usually used for woodwind instruments. In fact, the African Blackwood ‘tree’ is not so much that as a ‘shrub’ (see below), and so it’s common to find three and four piece backs. As a two piece back, the sets we received that much more special, and we can’t wait to see what it’ll look like on the back and sides of a new build! 


The glassy overtones I mentioned are accompanied by a deep, rumbling bass which makes it a pretty extraordinary tone wood. I’m looking forward to getting started on a build with this gorgeous new addition to my wood stash.