TNAG Presents, Tonewoods

Tonewood Review: Madagascar Rosewood

Whether you describe it as being a more complex-sounding Indian rosewood, or a woodier, warmer sounding Brazilian, one thing is for sure: Madagascar rosewood makes for some stellar acoustic guitars.

We happened to have a diverse selection of Mad rose guitars come through the Exchange this month, so we jumped at the chance to feature this gorgeous tonewood.

Madagascar rosewood, or Dalbergia Baronii, comes from its namesake island off the southeast coast of Africa. Visually it varies quite a bit, with colors ranging from dark chocolate browns with purplish hints to autumnal reds, and grain patterns both straight and dramatically figured. Like cocobolo, it often gets favorably compared to Brazilian rosewood for its incredible tap tone, full and rich overtone profile, and high end clarity. Unsurprisingly, Mad rose makes for a beautiful tonewood on fingerstyle-oriented guitars, whether mid-sized OMs and Grand Concerts, large bodied Mod Ds, or smaller 0s and 00s. Flatpicking dreadnought players who want that pre-war D-28 sound, but for whatever reason would prefer to stay away from Brazilian, would do well to consider Mad rose, as well.

Like many popular exotic tonewoods, Madagascar rosewood faces some issues with sustainability, as well. Though supplies are limited, it is still generally more affordable than Brazilian rosewood. Most if not all of our luthiers share our concerns, and go to great lengths to get their woods from ethical sources. Feel free to ask them or us about it if you're considering a Bespoke Mad rose guitar.

For a luthier's perspective, be sure to watch Tom Sands' Mad Rose tonewood video, linked below!


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