Pterocarpus indicus | Tonewood Profile | “Narra”
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Padauk actually can refer to several species of Pterocarpus, although all these species some from Africa or Asian. These are: African Paduak [Pterocarpus soyauxii], Burmese Padauk [Pterocarpus macrocarpus], Andaman Padauk [Pterocarpus dalbergioides], Pashu/Malay Padauk [Pterocarpus indicus] and Prickly Paduak [Pterocarpus echinatus].
Read more about the Pterocarpus family and Padauks in general here.
Golden Narra is found throughout South East Asia where it is commonly referred to as a rosewood although not a true dalbergia. It attains to heights of 40 metres and a trunk diameter of 2 metres. Burls from the Narra tree are beautiful and is called Amboyna Burl.
It is planted as an ornamental and shade tree in many parts of Asia for it’s good foliage and attractive flowers. Today, it is largely processed into veneer and timber for the furniture trade.
General: Narra is widely used as a rosewood substitute in it’s natural range. Once cut, it releases a distinctive sweet smell. It is durable and naturally resistant is use- some sources have reported untreated, it lasts for up to 20 years in direct contact with the ground.
Appearance: The heartwood is a golden yellow to cinnamon colour with streaks of pink and red. It can display curly and ribbon striped figure. When quartersawn, can show a bees wing figure
Working: It can have an interlocked grain and an open pore structure like Walnut. It can be difficult to steam bend.
Values. The Janka of Golden Narra is approximately 1400 and the specific gravity is 0.52.
As a tonewood…
It is used for back an sides for guitars, where it compares favourably to the true rosewoods.
John Kinnaird is a fan and says: “Narra is a great wood. Stable, dense, very low impedence. (taps like Brazilian, similar metallic clank) It is tough to bend, like Padauk, but worth the effort. I have a set that has very nice bees wing superimposed on the ribbon like patterns present in wood with interlocking grain. Underused and under-appreciated, it could step in acoustically for Braziian any time it is called on.” Reference: here
Michael Payne is also a fan and says: “General characteristics are similar in tone to Tasmanian Black Acacia. I find Narra very well balanced with bright highs and sweet overtones. The bass response is warm and mellow without being overly dominating. Narra is one of my favorite woods for finger-style set-up. It pairs well with European Spruces, Redwood and Cedar.
While In the white; the color of Narra tends to be on the pinkish side but once wetted with finish is a beautiful reddish brown with hints of honey gold. The curly figure tends to be very iridescent once under finish. Many sets of the curly figure exhibit a reflective shimmer that is almost like flashes of lightning. Curly Narra can be really spectacular in appearance.
Work ability is similar to Acacia. It can dull a chisel edge if the grain is really wild but is not unreasonably hard. It bends very well even with curly figure and smells great. Narra is a fast growing plentiful resource wood and a great choice at any time and far less expensive
than Tasmanian Black Acacia for very similar appearance and tonal response.”
I would broadly characterise the tone of Golden Narra as falling between Indian and Honduran Rosewood- it is more metallic and bell like than Indian but has better midrange than Honduran.
Stocks of Narra are good at the present time with good availability from sustainably managed sources.
Wood Workers Source
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