Scientific name: Dalbergia retusa

Origin: Central America

Other names: Cocobolo, Cocobola

Average density: 69lbs/ft3 – 1095kg/m3

Uses: Guitar back and sides, binding, turnery

Cocobolo can be seen in a kaleidoscope of different colors, ranging from yellow, orange, red, and shades of brown with streaks of black or purple. Sapwood is typically a very pale yellow. Colors are lighter when freshly sanded/cut, and darken with age. Its grain is straight to interlocked, with a fine even texture and a good natural luster. It is close to Brazilian Rosewood in beauty and tonal qualities. Due to its high oil content, it can occasionally cause problems with gluing. Also, the wood’s color can bleed into surrounding wood when applying a finish, so care must be taken on the initial seal coats not to smear the wood’s color/oils into surrounding areas. Tearout can occur during planing if interlocked grain is present; the wood also has a moderate blunting effect on cutting edges/tools due to its high density. Cocobolo has excellent machining properties and can be worked well with a scraper, which will help keep dust down. Some people are allergic to this wood, so wearing a mask during sanding it is highly recommended. Cocobolo is in limited supply, relatively high demand and is likely to be quite expensive. Prices should compare similarly to other rosewoods in the Dalbergia genus.

It produces a sound similar to Koa, but resonates a little deeper on the low end, although it doesn’t have quite the full low end of rosewood or Ovangkol. Fast and responsive, with a moderate note decay, it’s articulate with lots of note distinction. Goes well with a wide range of playing styles (depending on the body shape). Also, with players who want a brighter rosewood sound with a little less low end and a little more treble zing.