While many makers agree that great guitars can be made from prime, properly selected supplies of many types of mahogany, the scarcity of Honduran mahogany on the market has recently put it in a position not unlike that of Brazilian rosewood several years ago—even if the relative costs aren’t as extremely elevated in mahogany’s case. The most desirable species are still out there for the finding, but good supplies are certainly fewer and further between, and it takes some hunting and some expenditure to acquire them.
“I like Honduran mahogany and Cuban mahogany,” says Wilborn. “I also like it for necks. Honduran is still readily available, but it is getting rare. I once bought a bunch of very old Cuban boards, so even though Cuban is very rare, I have enough to last me a while."
“The African ‘mahoganies’ like sapele and khaya can also be lovely woods, especially for necks and internal parts. They can also make good backs and sides, though they are scorned unfairly by some as being the wood of cheap guitars.”
Having seen this market in flux for some five decades, SCGC’s Richard Hoover is well positioned to sum up the state of this prized wood in the industry today, and to provide a thoughtful perspective on seeking out and repurposing the good wood that’s already available.
“What’s unfortunate is there are so many of us putting so much pressure on our resources,” he says, “that mahogany available on the commercial market today is just a shadow of what it was, from maybe even in the beginning of my career, because [the mahogany available today] grows much faster, it’s less dense, and… it’s not junk, it’s just not the stuff. So that’s another reason for reclamation.”