Known in the US primarily as Genuine Mahogany or Honduran Mahogany, Swietenia Macrophylla (its scientific name) is what most in the exotic timber industry consider to be the true species when referring to “Mahogany.” Its colour can range from a pale pink to a light to medium reddish-brown, and it is renowned for its chatoyance (when a piece of wood can appear to be one colour when viewed from one direction but will change colours when rotated.
Instruments built with Brazilian Mahogany exhibit a strong midrange, excellent punch, and good sustain. It is prized for its beauty and rich colour ranging from pinkish brown to a dark reddish-brown. The grain varies from straight and tight, to flamed and wavy, to visually stunning and highly figured. Its texture is fine and uniform, with a rich natural lustre.
There are many reasons why this has been a prized timber for instruments for decades:
- It has excellent workability. Mahogany is known for its cooperative nature and easy sanding and machining, with a beautiful balance of density that’s just hard enough but not too hard.
- This material has superb dimensional stability. Flat pieces will remain flat. Joints and laminations will remain intact. During the sometimes-unavoidable seasonal changes in humidity, mahogany exhibits minimal shrinkage and swelling.
- Mahogany can sometimes be rather plain and almost utilitarian, but on other pieces, it ascends to the heights of sophistication and is extremely beautiful.