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View Full Version : Ohai vs. Acacia - The same wood?



dirk.li
10-16-2009, 07:09 AM
Hi guys,

I own a Pono Ohai Tenor and I'm thinking about getting a Kala Acacia Tenor (especially because I love the splitted head stock design).

I just wonder if Acacia and Ohai wood is one and the same?
Somewhere at the back of my mind I have the information that both types of wood stem from the "Rain Tree". Is that right?

Just in case that it is the same wood, do you think the instruments sound any different? Which one has the better sound? (Should I sell my Pono Ohai Tenor to get the Kala Acacia or not?)

What do you think?

Ahnko Honu
10-16-2009, 07:40 AM
Acacia: Acacia confusa
Acacia confusa is a perennial tree native to Asia. Some common names for it are Acacia Petit Feuille, Mimosa, Small Philippine Acacia, Formosa Acacia(Taiwan Acacia) and Formosan Koa. It grows to a height of 15 m.

Ohai aka Monkey Pod: Albizia saman
Albizia saman is known under a wide range of common names, such as Saman, Rain Tree or Monkey Pod (see also below). It is often placed in the genus Samanea, which by yet other authors is subsumed in Albizia entirely. This legume tree is native to the mainland neotropics, from Mexico south to Peru and Brazil, but has been widely introduced to South and Southeast Asia, as well as the Pacific islands, including Hawaiʻi.

Source: Wikipedia

Colloquial names as well as commercial names vary. Koa is also a variety of Acacia (Acacia Koa) native to Hawai'i.

dirk.li
10-16-2009, 07:46 AM
Acacia: Acacia confusa
Acacia confusa is a perennial tree native to Asia. Some common names for it are Acacia Petit Feuille, Mimosa, Small Philippine Acacia, Formosa Acacia(Taiwan Acacia) and Formosan Koa. It grows to a height of 15 m.

Ohai aka Monkey Pod: Albizia saman
Albizia saman is known under a wide range of common names, such as Saman, Rain Tree or Monkey Pod (see also below). It is often placed in the genus Samanea, which by yet other authors is subsumed in Albizia entirely. This legume tree is native to the mainland neotropics, from Mexico south to Peru and Brazil, but has been widely introduced to South and Southeast Asia, as well as the Pacific islands, including Hawaiʻi.

Source: Wikipedia

Colloquial names as well as commercial names vary. Koa is also a variety of Acacia (Acacia Koa) native to Hawai'i.

Thanks for this excellent and precise information! There are so many types of Acacia trees, so I thought maybe "Ohai" could be one of them... the two woods look alike, too.

So which one is the better tone wood? :-)

ukecantdothat
10-16-2009, 07:48 AM
Acacia and Ohai are not the same. Ohai, or "monkeypod" is another name for samanea saman wood. I don't know what the sound differences are. A lot of that would have to do with the maker, i.e. a mahogany Pono will sound different from a mahogany Kala, differences in bracing and size. Finish will make a difference, too - satin vs gloss. It would be interesting to hear from a builder, like Moore Betta, to get their take on the difference between these two woods.

Ahnko Honu
10-16-2009, 08:37 AM
I'm not a luthier (not yet ;)) but I am a woodworker and have worked with both woods quite a bit especially turning them on a wood lathe. The Acacia (locally known as Pake Koa) is a denser harder wood and more sensitive to humidity, the Ohai is softer and more stable and easier to work with. From my experience I am guessing the Acacia to be very similar to Koa in sound qualities, and the Ohai closer to Mango. I own several Koa 'ukuleles, and my one Acacia Koa Pili Koko has a very similar sound to Koa - loud & clear, my Mango pineapple being a softer sounding 'ukulele. Thickness of soundboard as well as build method and quality would influence sound quality as much as the material itself. Sound is subjective and open to personal tastes too.

Matt Clara
10-16-2009, 08:41 AM
As far as I'm aware, Chuck builds exclusively from Koa, so I doubt he's tried a large range of other woods, and the two you are discussing are only recently becoming popular for tonewood. (At least that's true of the acacia--I'm not positive about monkey pod.) Your best bet is to go to youtube and search for examples. MGM has a ton of them, and there are many others as well.