This section hopefully will assist you in the selection of woods for your instrument. Displayed are visual samples of many, but not all, of the woods that could be used. I should remind you that although a photo is helpful, wood in its amazing variety will almost always be different than what you see. Even in the same species there is a lot of variety. You should also be aware that almost all woods go darker in response to ultraviolit light (sunshine) some more then others. Although I've tried to keep the colors close to reality, their colors are going to be altered by your monitor. Regardless these photos will at least get you in the ball park.

Another page which might be of interest is a listing of some combinations of wood that other customers have selected for their instruments. Don't be limited by this list but at least you'll see some possibities.

Although generally a renewable resource, woodworkers everywhere face increasing difficulty obtaining quality woods from sources where responsible harvesting is taking place. Many of the tone woods take a generation to grow and are becoming more difficult to find. Some of the exotic trees like Brazilian Rosewood are so scarce that it's wood is like ivory and illegal to export. Substitutes will have to eventually be used. I strive to use quality materials and try to use most of what I purchase; smaller pieces going into bowed psalteries, thumb pianos, zithers and finally into hammered dulcimer playing hammers. What doesn't end up in an instrument or a cutting board usually warms my shop in the winter.

I encourage you to become informed about the economics and politics of the use of this resource. The key word is sustainable. The issues are many. I would also suggest you donate time or money to organizations that preserve, protect, or promote responsible use of our international resources. Planting a tree and limit your consumption.

If you have any questions regarding your choices, please e-mail or call me. I have a lot of experience to draw on.

If you'd like to learn a little bit more about each of the woods, click on the sample. Your click will take you to a Wikipedia article on that particular wood or a brief description I've put together

Natural Wood Soundboards (colors will vary)

These woods are desirable for soundboards as they are light, strong and acoustically responsive.

Natural Redwood

Natural Mahogany

Natural Spruce

Stained Soundboards (over Redwood)

Georgian Cherry

Brown Mahogany

Note: Stain color is not predictable as it depends on the the initial wood coloring and how it accepts stain. I won't stain spruce. It just doesn't take stain evenly. Staining enables you to still see some grain as opposed to painting which eliminates it.


Warm Cherry

Solid Colored Soundboards

Black Painted

Maroon Painted (behind

Note: I can do almost any painted color you'd like although black and maroon are the most popular. Painting involves a light coat of color on the soundboard leaving trim, soundhole design and pin panels natural wood followed by clear finish over the whole instrument.



Bridge Woods

Other exotic woods may be used for bridges. Ask.



Cardinal Wood

padauk goes darker over
time (click here to see
the difference)


Plain Maple

Any wood painted or stained black (extra $25)


Woods for frames, back and sides, etc (colors will vary)

Other exotic woods from the next section may be used for frames and back and sides of fretted instruments.

Plain Maple





Birdseye Maple

Curly Maple

Curly Maple


Red Oak

Brazilian Cherry



Woods often used for trim and pin panels. (colors will vary)
These woods can be used for bridges and frames of hammered dulcimers(if you want to pay more).



Cocobolo (only for trim)



Lacewood Light

Lacewood Dark



Santos Rosewood 1

Santos Rosewood 3


Cardinal Wood

Goncalvo Alves