Cocobolo grows from southwestern Mexico through western Central America – one of the world’s most colorful woods. Reaching as much as 80 feet in height and three feet in diameter it is known for its dynamic grain patterns of browns, oranges and yellows. Cocobolo is part of the same Dalbergia family as Brazilian and other rosewoods, however it is unique in its brown/orange/yellow color and is the densest of the Dalbergia woods. In fact, cocobolo has a specific gravity of 1.1 which means it sinks in water, compared with Brazilian rosewood with a specific gravity of 0.84. Likewise, the pounds per cubic feet or cocobolo is 69 compared to 52 for Brazilian rosewood.
Several guitar companies have built instruments with cocobolo back and sides due to its stunning beauty, but they are customarily heavy and not musically responsive. This is due to a lack of understanding in how to turn cocobolo into a truly magnificent music wood. Instead of sanding cocobolo tonewood to the same dimension as other species, its density must be taken into consideration. For example, cocobolo has twice the density as Honduran mahogany; 25% more than rosewood. To enable the deep and profound music response of cocobolo, it must be sanded to a weight that is similar to that used for rosewood – significantly thinner than the backs of other acoustic guitars. Using Sound OptimizationTM Breedlove individually weighs and sands every cocobolo set to its ideal dimension and during Hand Voicing ensures it is resonating at its ideal frequency.
We are finding that our Breedlove guitars crafted with cocobolo rival the amazing tonal projection of Brazilian rosewood. The bold bass tones and shimmering highs of the high energy output of cocobolo, plus the beauty of the colorful intertwined grain patterns and contrasting sap wood, result in instruments that are incomparable.
Unfortunately, cocobolo has been over harvested – resulting in it being listed in Appendix II of CITES. Our cocobolo grew in the vicinity of Rivas, Nicaragua close to the Pacific coast. It was thoughtfully and legally harvested through Diamond Teak, an environmentally driven forest sustainability company located in the mountains of Costa Rica. As part of its commitment to reforestation Diamond Teak has planted over 50,000 cocobolo seedlings over the lasts three decades.
Breedlove Guitars has all of the required documentation for the legal import of cocobolo into United States. No documentation is needed to ship and sell Breedlove Guitars containing cocobolo within the USA. And musicians are free to travel throughout the world with their cocobolo instruments. But any international commercial activity such as selling a Breedlove Guitar containing cocobolo does require permits issued by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Breedlove can provide all of the needed documentation to secure these permits.