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West African Ebony (also known as Gabon Ebony from West Africa) has been a standard fingerboard wood for factory guitars in Europe and America, and for many builders it is preferred because it is easier to plane and is more stable than other Ebonies. It is rarely pure-black, but the streaks and mottling that is indicative of West African Ebony is now largely accepted in the marketplace. For those who require blacker boards, you can use either our FD fingerboard dye, FFOA fingerboard oil or FAW (“Duck’s Ax Wax”) to darken the wood. See comparison chart.
NOTE: For many years now we have not been able to get quartersawn boards as the Ebony trees are very small. Less than 1% of the boards are quartersawn and we can not specially select quartersawn boards for you.
Mando/uke fingerboard, W. African Ebony, 1st grade
Mando/uke fingerboard, W. African Ebony, 2nd grade
MORE ABOUT EBONY: One of the densest of woods, Ebony is chosen for fingerboards for its resistance to wear, compression strength parallel to the grain, and for its blackness which provides a uniform contrasting background for inlay work. It also holds the fret tang well. Ebony seasons slowly compared to other woods, but once in service is very stable.
Recent developments in the supply chain have improved accountability and now all Ebony products coming into LMI have advanced from acceptable to excellent with regards to Lacey Act compliance. Our sources have also increased efforts to manage the forests in Camaroon (the country of origin for West African Ebony) to ensure that ecologically and socially responsible harvesting practices remain in place and to maintain a steady supply into the foreseeable future. In order to do this we expect (and accept) steady price increases and a wider range of acceptable qualities in our grading. This usually just means more color in the wood. We have no more Madagascar Ebony left and we do not expect to be able to bring in more unless a third party certifier is established in Madagascar.