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Ovangkol (also called Shedua and Amazaqoue) has been in use by several of the larger high-end factories for several years, but its combination of affordability, beauty and tonality has made it a favorite of hand makers as well.
From West Africa, the figure is similar to Indian Rosewood, with dark grey straight lines over a golden-brown or olive-brown background. It comes from the same family as Bubinga and has a similar interlocking grain pattern. It is reasonably easy to bend and plane and it finishes well.
Ovangkol often has subtle mineral deposits that can show up under the finish. We find the best way to deal with these is to apply a few coats of shellac prior to finishing. Shellac is non-reactive with other finishing products and masks the mineral deposits well (always test compatibility whenever mixing finishes). In addition, Ovangkol is a species that due to it's open pores needs a pore filler. We recommend a dark pore filler as it's in keeping with the dark streaks running through Ovangkol and there's the added effect of hiding the mineral deposits.
Montreal luthier Michael Greenfield says: "Ovangkol...who knew?! What a great alternative tonewood. As there is a lot of it around, the logs are large and the sets are very on quarter and STRAIGHT. What a pleasure to build with. Bends and glues well....not too hard on edge tools. It is not quite as dense as most Rosewoods, which can be a good thing, especially on larger bodied guitars as you don't have to combat the problem of clashing overtones -there is better separation between notes." He went on to say that his latest Ovangkol guitar is a "monster" and mentioned that tonally it falls nicely "between Koa and Rosewood".