Sourcing Koa and other tone woods in USA ?

DJ Mango

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Sep 14, 2021
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Where do the 4k's source their Koa and other tone woods ?
USA based custom builders ?
USA based individual builders ?
I am an amateur builder.

For back/side/tops I buy guitar sets from EBay with good results and relatively modest prices. I have purchased at higher average price from Hearne Hardwoods and RC Tonewoods when I found something unique or particularly attractive.

I buy spanish cedar and mahogany from Bell Forest, figured american hardwoods from These are bulk products that require resawing for body applications.

(to date I have never built in Koa)
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Bob at has Koa and is a regular contributor to this forum. I've gotten some beautiful binding from him.
Bruce at is a big Koa supplier. I've gotten nice stuff from him
Kamaka, Kanile'a, Koaloha... maybe Ko'olau? Not sure about the fourth. Just gleaning the other three through reading loads of posts, not personal experience :ROFLMAO:
"Maybe Ko'olau" ; they are arguably the best maker .
"Maybe Ko'olau" ; they are arguably the best maker .
Alrighty. Thanks for the schoolin' :) I dunno anything about makes other than what I've had the chance to play, and from what I've read (note: not extensively searched any of these brands, just literally what I've stumbled across) here, I haven't come across Ko'olau as frequently as the other three. Deepest apologies for any offense given, certainly not intended.
Just as a head's up about the term "Salvage". It is often used as a gimmick to add psychological value to wood sales. If it is important to you, or if you plan to use it as a justification for the use of certain woods, better do some research. It can be real, as in using wood from a windfall or dead tree, or it can be an interpretation by the harvester that the tree will die someday so might as well cut it now. Koa, in particular, is gold these days, so the temptations run high! Same goes for the term "sustainably harvested". All that stuff is questionable until proven. Lutherie exists in very murky environmental territory!
Lutherie exists in very murky environmental territory!

So right. Buying wood can be a little bit like buying fish in the market: Hard to know where it came from.

As I remember according to this wood seller, and it has been a number of years, the "salvaged" koa came from a building demolition. Apparently, as the story goes, in Hawaii back in the day they freely built with koa as a construction wood and it can be salvaged when the building is torn down/remodeled. How true that is I don't know. I do know that the wood looked and behaved like old wood. It was very dried out and really hard and brittle like wood gets when it has been used in construction and subjected to years of drying out.

Anyway, coveat emtor, let the buyer beware when it comes to lutherie wood.
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