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Ebony Versus Purpleheart Survey

June 10, 2022


Will it become the replacement for ebony one of these days?

Purpleheart (a.k.a. amarynth) is durable, inexpensive, and dense. It grows in large areas of both Central America and South America. The trees grow up to 170 feet tall and have trunks up to 5 feet in diameter. Purpleheart is not on any of the "restricted" or "endangered" lists, either.

And it is one of the least expensive exotic hardwoods available to us!

As a tone wood, it sounds like a hard, dense maple. It doesn't sound bad for a body, but I'll usually recommend a mahogany or walnut, based on my personal preferences. But as a decorative wood? Wow!!!!

Head inlay, fretboard veneer, heel cap? Can't touch it for good looks or durability. There's a lot to be said for the classic/traditional look of Gabon ebony for a fretboard - the black color works, visually, with pretty much any top wood you choose. But with the right top and body woods, purpleheart is stunning. Maybe pair with gold tuners and gold strap buttons, maybe even the gold-colored EVO fret wire, and look out Mr. T - this dulcimer has bling! (I can't resist tossing in an "I pity the fool that doesn't use purpleheart...")

purpleheart dulcimer sides only
We're seeing more and more customers choose instruments with purpleheart, and I expect that the growth in purpleheart's popularity (perfectly popular purpleheart, please?) will continue to grow. 

What do you think? Purpleheart, or ebony? Reply with your comments - we'll include a few of them in next week's newsletter!