Monkeypod. Tonewood Profile

Samanea saman | Tonewood Profile | “Monkeypod”

Tonewoods Database
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Quick Facts
Scientific name: Samanea saman/ Albizia saman/ Pithcellobium saman
Trade names
: Monkeypod, Saman, Rain tree.
Janka: 850 approx
Uses: Back and sides, veneer
RIYL: Mahogany
Bling factor: Curly grain
Availability: Fair
CITES status: Not listed. No restrictions
Note: (RIYL) Recommended If You Like

Natural History

Monkeypod is a native to South America where it ranges from Mexico south to Brazil where it can attain heights of 30 metres. It has been widely introduced to Southeast Asia and the Pacific Island where it is sometimes considered an invasive species. Monkeypod has several scientific names used to describe the same species: Samanea saman/ Albizia saman/Pithecellobium saman

Monkeypod is a wide-canopied tree with crown diameters reaching 40 metres which endears it to city planners looking for shade trees. It gets the name Rain Tree from the folding of the leaves fold in rainy weather and in the evening. Monkeypod is often used for crafts and furniture in it’s native range.


Physical properties

Appearance: The heartwood of Monkeypod varies from golden to dark brown with dark streaks occasionally found. The sapwood is yellow-white and distinct from heartwood. Wild grain patterns and curl can be found in some logs. Wood vessel can contain shiny deposits. The heartwood has a naturally high lustre.

Working: The grain is straight, wavy or interlocked with a medium to fine texture and open pores. It has a natural luster but can shrink and warp when drying. Although eye irritation can occur with sawdust, Monkeypod tends not to have a specific smell. It is easy to plane, saw and glue.

Values: The Janka of Monkeypod is approximately 850 and a specific gravity of 0.5.

Durability: Monkeypod is reported to be resistant to termite attack and to wear. Drying should be done careful as it can warp and check.


As a tonewood.

It is used for tops, backs and sides for guitars, where it compares favourably to the mahogany.

Lone Wolf guitars says: “similar to Black Walnut in figure and character.”

Guy D’haenens says: “a woody, pulsing tone without losing the clear high frequencies.”.


Subjective tone…

I would broadly characterise the tone of Monkeypod as falling between Mahogany and Walnut- it has more clarity than Walnut but provides more fundamental than Mahogany.



Good stocks of Monkeypod are fair.



Links/ References:
Lone Wolf Guitars
Guy D’haenans

©Terence Tan.

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