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Featured Tonewood — MACASSAR EBONY – May 2015

The heat is on, and most wise luthiers have transitioned away from Brazilian Rosewood permanently due to increased legal concerns. A seller’s promise that “this wood is from pre-CITES stock” no longer holds weight, and rightfully so. Sadly, poaching, illegal importation, and misrepresentations continue and few people selling it have more than a promise to demonstrate legality.

Front and center among the substitutes for Brazilian is Macassar Ebony. For many years there has been concern about legal logging and exportation of this species, but LMI is proud to claim that our Macassar is 100% legally procured (usually from salvaged sources) with a crystal clear paper trail.

No one needs to make a case for the beauty of this wood. From distinguished jet-black to regal pinstriped, to marbled, inky lines with contrasting sapwood centers, Macassar offers a look for everyone. Like Brazilian, its hardness splits the difference between common Indian Rosewood and the African Ebonies. Instruments of great tonal power and subtlety are the result. Furthermore, Macassar Ebony fingerboards are the only quartersawn Ebony we carry.

This fine wood is carefully drawn from the verdant rainforests of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi (formerly Celebes) in the southern region of the island that neighbors the city of Makassar. The environment mirrors that of fabled Borneo, nearby. Home to a wide variety of endemic species (various Macaques, the Palm Civet, Babirusas, Anoa) deforestation is a grave concern and so environmentally conscious harvest, even of salvaged woods, is severely limited.

Whether CITES grants protection to Macassar Ebony or not, our supplier says that their business can only survive a few more years (after 2015) within the ethical constraints that they abide by. The time to buy is now, and we make finding that perfect set easy for you by picturing each set individually in our “Select-A-Set” format.