Diospyros celebica| Tonewood Profile | “Macassar Ebony”
The Diospyros family consists of around 500 deciduous and evergreen trees commonly known as ebony or persimmon trees. Macassar Ebony (Diospyros celebica), derives it’s name from the Makassar, the main seaport of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. It is endemic to the island and attains heights of 20 metres. It can is found in rain and monsoon forests but is able to adapt to humid conditions as well as seasonal climates as well as a variety of soils. It is thought to be present on the Celebes in Philippines although I couldn’t find any hard data to support this (any help in this respect would be appreciated!)
Diospyros celebica has been heavily logged for lumber in its natural range and is trade is currently restricted by the Indonesian government.
The heartwood of Diospyros celebica is variegated, streaky brown and black often striped. It is a hard, durable wood with a fine grain. It is reported to glue well but is brittle and can blunt tools easily. It has a Janka rating of ~3200-2500 and a specific gravity of approx. 0.89-1.2.
As a tonewood…
As a tonewood, Macassar Ebony has been described to produce instruments with a clear, loud sound.
I asked a few luthiers on the OLF and here’s what they thought of it (full thread here)
Pat Hawley is a big fan and says :”Although I’ve only built two guitars with macassar ebony, a dreadnought and a classical, I love the stuff. I think it’s beautiful wood and the guitars sound great. It can be difficult to bend and it’s also relatively heavy, but the results are worth the effort. I’m actually kind of surprised I don’t see more guitars made with it.
Both guitars had Englemann spruce tops. The thing that struck me about the dreadnought was its projection. With regard to sustain, I hadn’t noticed anything either way so I guess that means it was average. As I was building the guitar, I knew it was going to come out heavy and I was worried that there wouldn’t be much volume so I was surprised and pleased at how loud it was. The classical guitar was much lighter in comparison yet, when first played, it was relatively quiet and I was a little disappointed.
However the change in just over a few hours of playing was amazing. I never knew a guitar could open up so much in so little time. It probably was also a function of the new strings settling in. I’m not very good at describing tonal qualities so all I can say is that this guitar, to my hear, sounded very sweet and beautiful. I would not call it overly bright. I sold it within a week of it being finished and, I must admit, I have some regrets.” Pat Hawley can be found: here.
Howard Klepper says :”Rather high damping. I’d consider it best suited for a blues type box if someone want a lot of thump but not a lot of sustain. Speaking relative to other woods, of course. It’s not like its cardboard or anything.” Howard Klepper guitars can be found: here.
Todd Stock says :”In terms of boards and bridges, I run a tap comparison for folks looking to choose between BRW, EIR, Mad Rose, Madagascar Ebony, and Macassar…the Madagascar is at the bottom of the pack, while most folks find the Macassar close to MadRose and EIR in the sustain and tone department.
Great wood for bridges, fretboards, binding and faceplates…lower damping than many other ebonies, has a great deal of visual appeal, and lower mass while retaining close to the same surface hardness. I seldom use Madagascar or Gabon ebony if suitable Macassar is available. I particularly like it for binding, where the warm bittersweet chocolate color warms up what can otherwise be a too-cool color note. That color/texture contrast is just perfect with a wide range of top and body woods. Where not constrained by tradition, I’ll use the Macassar over other ebonies.” Todd stock can be found: here.
I would classify this wood as providing a slightly dark and woody overtone content with a low to mid end predominance- much like Indian Rosewood!
Still available at present.
CIRAD Forestry department
US forestry service database
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