James Mccashen has been a craftsmen at Breedlove Guitars since 2013. While he has worked in a variety of departments during his tenure working on acoustic guitars, he is currently the Breedlove Wood Librarian. Mccashen's principal duties include grading all of the acoustic guitar tonewoods, hand selecting tops and backs, and matching acoustic guitar sides. He is also responsible for managing all extensive wood inventory. As Mccashen is our most knowledgable tonewood specialist, we are going to be chatting with him regularly here on our blog about all of the amazing acoustic guitar tonewoods we work with on a regular basis as we craft the finest guitars available.
For for our very first tonewood talke, we are going to dig in and learn about the visually stuning, and acoustically astounding cocobolo.
Q: What do you love about cocobolo?
A: It's color! It's very Halloweenesque with a tremendous amount of orange and black hues, but it can be brown and even have purple coloration. The way the dark grain lines outline the sapwood is just outstanding. Cocobolo is visually one of my favorite exotic tonewoods.
Q: How is working with cocobolo from a building standpoint?
A: While the final product yields an amazing looking and sounding instrument with none of the attributes I'm about to mention, the wood in it's raw form can be a challenge for us to work with! It's itchy, dense, oily and will turn your skin orange! Since cocobolo is so dense and oily, it makes working with it fairly difficult. Gluing cocobolo is one of the most difficult things about working with the tonewood. A good tip is to wipe your glue surface with a solvent before applying the glue. It will remove excess oil from the surface and make for a better and stronger bond.
Q: What is unique about cocobolo?
A: The smell! Cocobolo has a very distinct spicy smell that kind of reminds me or a pepper (I don't recommend smelling cocobolo in its raw form). It's also known for being allergenic as a raw wood. That said, the finished guitars are going to be beautiful and there's no issues with allergies - but it is certainly one of the most challenging woods we work with.
Cocobolo is available for use in our Custom Sound Studio. You can also find it in our Masterclass Concerto E Adirondack Spruce - Cocobolo and Legacy Dreadnought Ricochet E Sitka Spruce - Cocobolo, built in our workshop in Bend, OR, U.S.A. Cocobolo can also be found in our new Stage Exotic Concert CE Sitka Spruce - Cocobolo and Pursuit Concert CE Stika Spruce - Cocobolo models.
Have a question about a tonewood, how it sounds, what it's like to work with it or where we source it from? Shoot us a question on social media using #woodlibrarian and James will answer your questions!