Terminalia superba | Tonewood Profile | “Limba”
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Black Limba is a tall tree, achieving heights of 60 meters in it’s native range of tropical West Africa. It is heavily buttressed at the base with clear boles for much of it’s length.
The heartwood ranges from light straw colour to having black stripes. Hence white or black Limba. Korina refers to the striped version. It has a staight, close grain which is occasionally interlocked or wavy with an even but somewhat coarse texture.
It is used for furniture and music instruments- the most famous of which is in the Gibson Flying V & Explorer models of the late fifties. The Janka of Movingui is around 500 and the specific gravity is 0.45.
As a tonewood…
It is used for back an sides for guitars, where it’s light weight allows it to compare to mahogany. Tim Mcknight says:”I have used Black Limba. It is a drop in tonal replacements for Mahogany. ”
I would broadly characterise the tone of Limba as close to mahogany.
Limba is well managed and not threatened due to efforts made in the fifties to preserve it’s natural range.
©2008 Terence Tan.
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