From time to time we get asked about exotic timbers. The most popular timber for making Ukuleles is a wood called Koa. It is one of the Acacia family and is native to the Hawaiian Islands (among other places) where the Uke was invented. The reason it was used was quite simple. It was local and available.
Of course, today, Hawaiian Koa is still available in small quantities, but at a high price. Think in terms of a set of boards for a soprano starting around the £60 mark and going up from there!
However, ‘local and available’ were the criteria for using this timber in the first place, and here in the Garden of England, you don’t find Koa growing. We do have other timbers though, that are local and available. And they can still have some very smart grain patterns running through them. One of those timbers is Laburnum, a very dense wood that makes an excellent substitute for exotic rosewoods for use in fingerboards and bridges, and last year we obtained a few logs which are now coming on stream for those uses.
One of the logs was cut at the spot where the tree branched out into it’s full glory, and this log had been left intact until today. The last couple of days have been spent converting logs into lumber for stacking in the drying chamber for drying, and the log was an odd shape to have in there, so it got cut.
Book matched, it almost makes a figure of eight, just the right shape for a Uke top. Might just try that in a couple of months.