Cocobolo        Dalbergia retusa

Cocobolo has been gaining popularity for it’s use in guitars and other high end instruments over the course of the last 60 years. Instruments like Jerry Garcia’s “Tiger” guitar.


Cocobolo is a tropical hardwood found in Central America. Only the heartwood of Cocobolo is used and it ranges from orange to reddish brown with dark figuring weaving through the wood. The sapwood is a creamy yellow with a drastic boundary with the heartwood. Cocobolo has also been known to change colour after being cut making it even more enticing for wood workers and artists.  Cocobolo has an unmistakable floral odour. This smell stains the wood as well as the hands of the craftsman working with it.




Due to Cocobolo’s density and hardness, even a large block of the cut wood will produce a clear musical tone. The unusually high natural oil content of the wood makes it difficult to achieve a strong glue joint. This can inhibit the curing of some varnishes, particularly oil based finishes.



Great care must be used when working with Cocobolo, as the wood’s oils can induce allergic reactions if inhaled or exposed to unprotected skin and eyes. The wood has been reported as a sensitizer; can cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, as well as nausea, pink-eye, and asthma-like symptoms.

Cocobolo is in CITES Appendix II, and is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.


Cocobolo as a Tonewood

Cocobolo carries a  fairly bright tone. Sonically, it is very similar to koa, but resonates a  deeper on the low end. Although it doesn’t have quite the full low end of rosewood.  . Cocobolo is very responsive and embodies a moderate note decay, with lots of note distinction.


Symphontree Music has the following instruments in stock using this tone wood

“The Light Vader” Signature Model by Tony Karol

Master Grade Sinker Redwood Top, Reserve Grade Cocobolo Back and Sides, African Blackwood Binding, Head plate, Laskin Armrest, and bridge, Multiscale Ebony Fingerboard, 25.25″ – 26.5″ Parallel 7’th Fret, Top Braces: Adirondack Spruce, Back Braces: Englemann Spruce, Offset Cocobolo Rosette with Red Abalone Rings, Honduran Mahogany Neck, Mitred Back Strip and Tail Wedge, 1 ¾” Polished Bone Nut, 2 3/16 ” with Ebony Pins, Polished 3/16″  Wide Bone Saddle, Cosmo Black Gotoh 510 tuners, K&K Pure Western Mini Pickup Installed $9500             Brand New With Warranty