Posted on June 1, 2021February 5, 2024 by Dale Phillips Bubinga Bubinga by Roger Sperline Originally published as Guild of American Luthiers Data Sheet #268, 1984 and Lutherie Woods and Steel String Guitars, 1998 Bubinga is a hard, heavy wood which may be suitable for instrument backs and sides. It is as dense as Bolivian rosewood (Machaerium scleroxylon) and seems as hard. The piece I have has a beautiful mottle figure and a general tiger-eye sheen. I chose bubinga because it was available locally, relatively inexpensive, and very hard. I’d only made four classical guitars before trying it. All in all, I think I had good luck. Several woods are called bubinga, including Guibourtia demeusei, G. tessmannii, Didelotia africana, Copaifera spp., and Brachystegia spp. All are called African rosewood and are reddish-brown. I don’t know which one I have. Despite having many evenly-spaced coarse pores as red oak has, it has a specific gravity of 0.94. My piece was chosen from many, over half of which had evenly-spaced, generally straight growth rings. It is easy to obtain 8" widths for resawing into guitar backs. What makes a challenge is that the grain interlocks randomly, turning at times over 60° to the direction the tree grew, then turning back. In other words, though the growth rings are smooth and parallel, the runout changes severely from inch to inch. This gives a mottle pattern even in well-quartered slices, and causes some of the pores to penetrate a 3/32" plank. Shellac and varnish go right through some of them. Become A Member to Continue Reading This Article This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page. If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.