Okoume Wood For Guitars?

By Mike D. Schmitt

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Okoume wood is a tropical hardwood that originates from Central and West Africa. It is a lightweight and strong wood that is often used in the construction of musical instruments, especially guitars. One of the reasons for its popularity is that it is a sustainable resource and is easy to work with.

In terms of its properties, Okoume is a relatively soft and porous wood that produces a warm and balanced tone. It has a similar tonal profile to mahogany, with a strong midrange and a pronounced low end. It is also known for its clarity, making it an excellent choice for guitar bodies and necks.

Several guitar manufacturers use Okoume wood in their instruments. One of the most notable is PRS Guitars, which uses Okoume in some of their SE series models. These guitars are known for their excellent playability and tone, and are popular among both beginner and intermediate players.

Another manufacturer that uses Okoume wood in their guitars is Ibanez. They use Okoume for the bodies of some of their RG series electric guitars, and they also use it for some of their acoustic guitars. The use of Okoume in their guitars helps to produce a warm and full tone, making them great for a variety of styles of music.

Schecter Guitar Research also uses Okoume in some of their models. Schecter guitars are known for their metal-oriented designs, and the use of Okoume helps to produce a tight and focused sound that is ideal for heavy music.

Okoume wood is a popular choice for guitar manufacturers due to its sustainability, ease of use, and tonal characteristics. Brands like PRS, Ibanez, and Schecter are just a few examples of companies that use Okoume in their guitars. If you’re looking for a guitar with a warm and balanced tone, an Okoume wood guitar might be a great choice for you.

Characteristics of Okoume Wood

Okoume wood is a popular wood species used in the manufacturing of musical instruments, particularly guitars. Here are some of the characteristics of Okoume wood:

  • Lightness: Okoume wood is relatively lightweight, making it an ideal choice for guitar manufacturing. The lightweight nature of the wood allows for easy handling and reduces the overall weight of the instrument, making it easier to play for longer periods of time.
  • Softness: Okoume wood is also known for its softness, which means that it is easy to work with during the manufacturing process. This property also makes it easier to shape the wood into the desired guitar body shape.
  • Resonance: Okoume wood has a high resonance, which means that it can produce a rich and warm tone. The wood’s tonal properties make it an ideal choice for use in acoustic guitars.
  • Durability: Although Okoume wood is relatively soft, it is also durable and can withstand the rigors of regular use.

Origins of Okoume Wood

Okoume wood comes from the Okoume tree (Aucoumea klaineana), which is a species of tree native to West Africa, specifically Gabon, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea. It is a fast-growing tree that can reach up to 40 meters in height and 1.5 meters in diameter. Okoume wood is a popular choice for guitar construction due to its lightweight and tonal properties.

It is difficult to determine who was the first to use Okoume wood for guitars, as the wood has been used for various applications in West Africa for centuries. However, in the modern era of guitar manufacturing, luthiers such as Paul Reed Smith and his team at PRS Guitars were among the first to incorporate Okoume wood into their instruments. They recognized the wood’s potential for creating high-quality instruments at an affordable price point.

Since then, many other guitar manufacturers have followed suit and started using Okoume wood for their guitars. Some notable brands that use Okoume wood include Ibanez, Schecter, ESP/LTD, and Washburn. While some of these brands may use Okoume wood in conjunction with other woods or in specific models, they all recognize the tonal properties and value of Okoume wood in guitar construction.

By Mike D. Schmitt

Mike is your 'Go-To-Guy' for all things music and pro audio. Engineer, musician, luthier, and quite possibly the biggest gear head on the planet. With over 30 years of industry experience in the studio, and on the road, we turn to Mike and his expertise for those hard hitting music and pro audio questions.

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