View Full Version : Tanbootie and leadwood

Pete Howlett
07-12-2017, 08:22 AM
I have just bought 50 15"x2"x2" leadwood squares to convert to fingerboards and bridges - completely under the CITES radar - it's dark brown like old growth Brazilian Rosewood. The supplier included a stick of Tambootie - a lovely light choc brown with black streaks. If you are creative you do not have to put rosewood or ebony on your instruments :)


07-12-2017, 11:51 AM
Tanbootie and leadwood

a tanbootie usually leads to hardwood, actually

07-12-2017, 11:58 AM
a tanbootie usually leads to hardwood, actually

Ahaaaa! I see what you did there. (Big smile)

Pete Howlett
07-12-2017, 11:58 AM
Sorry, should be TAMbootie!

07-13-2017, 05:28 PM
Interesting looking wood! There's some good info in this wood database...


07-13-2017, 06:52 PM
Wow. Janka Hardness: 3,570 lbf (15,880 N). .... That stuff be hard.... What is the hardest and nastiest wood in the world? Quebracho wood. A whopping 4,570 Janka rating. It is said to be hard to work and "dulls tools". Ah, I guess. Never heard of Quebracho uke. You go first.

07-14-2017, 09:14 AM
Nah. I'm having enough of a challenge at the moment with Walnut and Sitka. More complicated stuff will have to wait. :D

07-14-2017, 10:05 AM
I think its great looking to other alternatives to Rosewood. It certainly will make shipping internationally easier. Looks to be a good alternative. I'd like to see a posted picture of one of your ukes with this wood for the fingerboards. thanks Pete.

Pete Howlett
07-14-2017, 11:46 AM
Our latest student build when he oiled it, it looked just like ebony....

07-29-2017, 06:38 AM
That leadwood looks to be an excellent choice for fretboards, Pete. And "under the radar" usually just indicates there is no threat of depletion. In other words just the kinds of woods we should be looking for.

We've never used true Ebonies; never had any real desire to do so.

Of the two fretboard/bridge materials we currently use, one has very much the same tone as your leadwood. We call it Brown Ebony, but that's just our name. The species is Caesalpinia libidibia and is shown in the first photo. It starts out as a dark brown, and when cut more or less on the quarter, has a nice subtle darker striping. My IPhone didn't pick it up well, but as you mentioned, once it is oiled it darkens and the striping (which I like personally) is harder to see. I've only seen this wood available on the commercial market once - very briefly several years ago, and that fellow is no longer in the business. It's very similar to most rosewoods in density.

The other we've used since day one, and over the last few years it has now become readily available in the U.S. We knew it by the name Katalo'ox (Aztec), but it's been anglicized to Katalox, or even "Royal Mexican Ebony" in the commercial market. It's not any ebony either; the species is Swartzia cubensis. Again it has rosewood-like properties and far as weight and density. Instead of the colder background hue of the Brown Ebony, this almost has a touch of purple.

We tend to use Katalo'ox paired with warmer body woods and Brown Ebony with the colder toned bodies. True Ebonies (unless stained black as so many are) tend to have a greyish background. While that can be attractive as well, I've always found the tones of our two materials to be more attractive to me personally; hence the lack of desire for an ebony.

One final thing we've started doing is thermo-curing these woods. It cuts down on the weight (helpful in balance when we do a longneck) darkens the color even a bit more (not much as we don't take it too far), increases stability, makes them even a bit harder, and tends to eliminate fret end protrusion down the road.