Is Nandu A Good Guitar Tonewood? Electric, Acoustic & Bass


Guitars are made of numerous different parts, many of which are made of wood. The choice of wood in the guitar body (the solid body and laminate in electric guitars and the sides, back and top of acoustic guitars), neck and fretboard all contribute to the overall playability, feel and, of course, tone of the instrument. Since nandu is used in the construction of guitars and basses, it’s worth investigating whether it’s a good tonewood or not.

Is nandu a good guitar tonewood? Nandu is not a particularly impressive or popular choice as a guitar tonewood for electric, acoustic or bass guitars. However, it is chosen as the fretboard material for a few budget-friendly acoustic models. It’s a hard, dense wood that’s relatively easy to work but has a lacklustre natural tone.

In this article, we’ll discuss if and how nandu tonewood is used in electric, acoustic, classical and bass guitar construction with a keen focus on its tone.

Note: in my research for this article, I used Sweetwater’s extensive guitar database to find examples of guitars with nandu in their construction. The links to the guitars in this article will send readers to Sweetwater’s site for more information. Sweetwater is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 10 Best Online Audio Gear/Equipment Retailers.


Table Of Contents


Characteristics Of Nandu Tonewood

Nandu (Pericopsis mooniana) is a species of legume tree in the Fabaceae family. It is also known as nedun or thwaites and grows in Indonesia, Malaysia, Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.

IUCN lists nandu in its Red List of Threatened Species as vulnerable and, therefore, it’s considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.

Nandu’s colour ranges from golden brown to dark brown and typically features irregular dark streaks. Its grain is interlocked, and its texture is fine to moderately coarse.

This tonewood is relatively easy to work, though it’s prone to splitting. It’s hard and durable, easy to glue, and takes paint and varnish well.

As a tonewood, nandu is rarely used or spoken of. As far as I can tell, Ibanez is the only brand that uses nandu and only for select fretboards. It’s a relatively balanced wood with little effect (good or bad) on the sound.

It’s a relatively inexpensive wood to use, and it’s different than the uber-popular ebony, rosewood or maple options. It’s hard, durable and stable enough to make a great fretboard wood; even it doesn’t come with much of a tonal character.

Perhaps nandu wood is rarely discussed because it’s truly unremarkable. That being said, its balanced tone and hardness (10,600 N / 2,383 lbf Janka) make it a solid choice, at least for a few of Ibanez’s lower-end acoustic models.

Here are a few notable nandu specs:

  • Hardwood/Softwood: Hardwood
  • Colour: golden brown to dark brown with irregular dark streaks
  • Grain: interlocked
  • Texture: fine to medium
  • Pores: diffuse-porous
  • Density: 900 kg/m3 / 56.19 lb/ft3
  • Janka Hardness (Typical): 10,600 N / 2,383 lbf
  • Elastic Modulus: 16.10 GPa / 2,335,000 psi
  • Tone (Warm/Bright Scale): balanced
  • Price: moderate

Sources: Plantnet-Project

Here are links to the official website of the IUCN and Cites:
IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)


Is Nandu A Good Electric Guitar Tonewood?

Before we begin, I should mention that tonewoods don’t have nearly as much of an effect on the overall sound of an electric guitar as they do on an acoustic guitar. The guitar pickups, strings, the signal chain and the amplifier all play a huge role in the overall tone of an electric guitar. It’s not all about the wood, though it is a factor.

Nandu is not used in any commercial electric guitars. That is not to say it’s necessarily a terrible choice, though the lack of tonal character make it unattractive to small luthiers and large manufacturers alike. Furthermore, its spot on the IUCN Red List makes it that much less interesting in acquiring.

Is Nandu A Good Electric Guitar Body Tonewood?

Nandu is a relatively heavy wood, making for a heavy guitar when used as the body material. The tonewood isn’t overly impressive either, so there’s no real pull for guitar makers to use nandu in electric guitar bodies, especially considering all the other superb tried-and-true options.

Is Nandu A Good Electric Guitar Neck Tonewood?

Though nandu’s hardness could work well as a guitar neck, it’s rarely used due to its lack of tonal character, further dismissing it as a respectable tonewood.

Nandu is heavy compared to the typical neck woods (maple, rosewood, wenge, walnut). Having a heavy neck can really throw the balance of a guitar off, and balancing a nandu neck with a heavy body tonewood isn’t worth the resulting weight.

Is Nandu A Good Electric Guitar Fretboard Tonewood?

Though nandu is used as a fretboard material when it is utilized in guitar manufacturing, there are currently no electric guitars with nandu fretboards on the market.

Though it could be used (to varying degrees of success), there are plenty of better options on the market.


Is Nandu A Good Acoustic Guitar Tonewood?

Nandu is used in some of Ibanez’s budget-friendly acoustic guitars but isn’t a great acoustic guitar tonewood in general.

Is Nandu A Good Acoustic Guitar Body Back/Side Tonewood?

Nandu’s high elastic modulus (16.10 GPa / 2,335,000 psi) and susceptibility to splitting during work make it difficult to bend into shape. Combined with lacklustre tone, this makes nandu wood a poor choice for acoustic guitar back and sides.

Is Nandu A Good Acoustic Guitar Body Top Tonewood?

Nandu isn’t a spectacular projecting tonewood, nor does it have the prettiest grain. It’s also rather heavy and difficult to cut super-thin. Therefore, it’s not a great tonewood for acoustic guitar tops.

Is Nandu A Good Acoustic Guitar Neck Tonewood?

Nandu isn’t the most flexible wood, nor is it the best sounding. There are many superior options on the market, so nandu is rarely (if ever) used in acoustic guitar necks.

Is Nandu A Good Acoustic Guitar Fretboard Tonewood?

Ibanez uses nandu as an affordable option in some of its acoustic guitar fretboards. Again, its hardness is an asset, though it doesn’t really contribute much to the overall tone.

Examples of acoustic guitars with nandu fretboards:

Ibanez is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 13 Best Bass Guitar Brands In The World
Top 13 Best Electric Guitar Brands In The World


Is Nandu A Good Bass Guitar Tonewood?

With repeating myself too much, let’s go over nandu as a bass guitar tonewood.

Since nandu is really only useful as a fretboard material, it would make sense that it’s only seen in bass guitar fretboards. More specifically, in sticking with the previous theme, nandu can only currently be found commercially on Ibanez’s acoustic bass guitars.

Examples of bass guitars with nandu tonewood:


Other Tonewoods

Of course, there are plenty of other tonewoods besides nandu. Here is a list of other tonewoods with links to check out more in-depth articles on each:


This article has been approved in accordance with the My New Microphone Editorial Policy.

Arthur

Arthur is the owner of Fox Media Tech and author of My New Microphone. He's an audio engineer by trade and works on contract in his home country of Canada. When not blogging on MNM, he's likely hiking outdoors and blogging at Hikers' Movement (hikersmovement.com) or composing music for media. Check out his Pond5 and AudioJungle accounts.

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