Is Zebra Wood A Good Choice For Your Next Guitar?

Gone are the days when only a handful of wood choices existed for making a great sounding guitar. Nowadays, you can get instruments made from a wide range of ever more exotic kinds of timber.

That said, just because a type of tropical timber looks pretty, doesn’t mean it’ll sound pretty to play as well.

Sound quality matters a lot when it comes to choosing a specific lumber for your next guitar. But, how does Zebra wood stack up as a tonewood?

Well, in this post, we delve into the age old question of whether or not tonewoods really matter for guitar sound quality. And you will also discover whether or not Zebrawood makes for good acoustic guitar tonewood (and why).

is zebra wood good for guitars

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What Kind Of Wood Is Most Frequently Used To Make The Best Guitars?

The most popular timber choice for guitars is Spruce. It’s plentiful, sustainable, and easily accessible in North America.

Spruce is lighter than Maple or Rosewood. It isn’t as dense or tough as Zebra wood either. Which means that it can reverberate with a bright and clear sound.

All of this combined makes Spruce the best all-round choice timber for making classic guitars. So, Spruce is typically used for making guitar tops.

Does The Tonewood Sound Really Make A Difference When It Comes To Guitars?

This subject is a bit of a bone of contention across the guitar community.

But, here’s the thing; tonewood matters more for acoustic guitars than it does for electric guitars. However, the exact type of tonewood your guitar’s made from, matters much less than the type of finish you use on it.

For example, a nitrocellulose lacquer finish is incredibly light and thin. Which means that it won’t weigh down your guitars reverberations as you play.

On the other hand, a polyurethane finished guitar, has been coated with an (ever so slightly) heavier finish. And that added weight can restrict the reverb of an acoustic guitar.

Related Post: Nitrocellulose Lacquer Vs Polyurethane: Choosing A Finish For Your Guitar

In other words, the type of wood your guitar is made from, may not have as much of an impact on sound as you’d think.

What Does Zebra Wood Sound Like When Played?

Zebra wood gives off a bluesy sound thanks to it’s low speed vibration. And this is all down to this hardwoods density.

Harder and tougher than Maple, Zebrawood has more of a hard edge to its sound than a Maple wood guitar.

Related Post: Can Tru-Oil Really Finish And Protect Your Maple Fretboard?

But, Is Zebra Wood Very Expensive?

Zebrawood is fairly expensive, as this particular lumber is sourced and shipped in from parts of West Africa.

However, unlike Rosewood, it is not a CITES (Convention On The Trade Of Endangered Species), trade-restricted wood. So, the cost of using Zebrawood to make guitars is not prohibitively high.

But, compared to say Spruce (which can be found growing right across North America), Zebrawood is going to cost you a pretty penny.

Are Zebrawood Guitars At Least Durable?

Absolutely. One of the main keys to wood durability is it’s density. If that wooden surface can shrug off scratches and dents, then it will last a good long while.

Now, the way we measure woods ability to shrug off wear and tear is by checking its Janka rating. This rating measures the amount of force (lbf) it takes to dent wood with a metal object.

The higher the rating, the tougher and more durable the wood.

Zebrawood has a Janka rating of 1830 lbf. Which means it would take 1830 pounds of force to mark this hardwood. Compared to Maples 1450 lbf Janka rating, (and even Rosewoods 1730 lbf rating), Zebra wood (in comparison) is going to be a hard nut to crack.

Is Zebrawood Lightweight? Or Is It Too Heavy To Play?

Zebrawood is dense and heavy. And while that is a boon when it comes to durability, it can be a bit of a weight around your neck (literally!).

Zebrawood is twice as heavy as Basswood (which is the lightest wood you can make a guitar from).

Once dried, Basswood weighs on average a mere 26 lbs/ft3 (415 kg/m3). While Zebra wood is a heftier 50 lbs/ft3 (805 kg/m3) when dried.

Zebrawood is even heavier than Mahogany, which racks up 31 lbs/ft3 (496 kg/m3) on the scale.

To Wrap Up, Here Are The 3 Key Takeaways From This Post…

  • 1). Zebrawood is a great tonewood for blues acoustic guitars.
  • 2). This type of wood is very durable. It will take a lot of playing time before you ever wear down this tough timber.
  • 3). Zebrawood is heavy. When comparing it’s average dried weight, Zebrawood is twice as heavy as Basswood. And it is up to 60 percent heavier than Mahogany.


Furniture that destroys forests: crackdown on ‘rampant’ trade in rosewood | The Guardian

Average Dried Weight | The Wood Database