In praise of katalox..

LtDave32

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Guys, I'm in love with this stuff for a fretboard wood.

Here's a katalox fret board on an American black walnut neck I'm making. I just got done sanding in the radius and installing MOP dots.

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Here's some other pics in better light:

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This stuff is as hard as Ebony, in fact they call it "Mexican ebony" in some circles.

It's as plentiful as the day is long. And it's extremely affordable. Typically $12-13 or so from LMI. This is an LMI blank.

It has a beautiful grain to it, which I brought out by sanding it to 320, then running 0000 steel wool over it.

I think it came out spectacular. And so affordable. It's going to be my new "go to" fret board wood unless the customer specifies something particular.

Being as I'm taking pictures at night, on a towel in the bedroom, the pics simply do not do it justice. In the daylight it is bright and colorful, with a beautiful satin sheen to it.

this wood.. Why is hardly anybody using it? What the heck, boys (and girls)?
 

ARandall

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I built I think 2 with Katalox......1 is my LP Junior vintage accurate build, the other was a carved Les Paul that very happily sports a set of filtertrons. No worries from me.......but then again I have vintage Les Paul era clones built with Ziricote.

There are so many issues with alternative woods. You just need to visit any Fender forum to see the kerfuffle that Pau Ferro being expanded in the range has caused.....and thats even with some basses and the SRV signature already speccing it for years.
The reissue crowd here has almost been having aneurysms when it was an option on one of the CS ranges.

Then you have the typical misinformation about new woods, and the 'small town syndrome' that is so common with guitar players when it comes to trying anything new.
Plus then you have slightly arrogant/ignorant builders side too. There was one such one who has influenced a poster on MLP by claiming Pau Ferro as a fretboard is a bad wood to build with - not due to any structural or physical reasons......but simply because the 2 or 3 guitars he's had experience with (with only the fretboard being Pau ferro mind) have been duds. Any competent and experienced luthier would never be silly enough to look at a wholly new build and think somehow they know enough to isolate greatness or poorness to 1 aspect.
 

LtDave32

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With Eastern ebony prices being ridiculous, and everything going so pricey, I simply don't understand why this wood isn't used more often. I know that Martin uses it on some models. You can dye the stuff just like they dye ebony.

I mean, $12 per board from LMI.. Why the hell not?
 

Barnaby

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It's a winner for sure...and your work on that neck is clean!

I am a huge fan of alternate and local tonewoods these days, and anyone who comes on a forum like this to say something along the lines of "guitars should only be made out of X or Y" immediately goes down a bunch of notches in my estimation.
 

LtDave32

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Thank you, Barnaby!

There are a lot of composites being used today as well. Nothing wrong with that; they often make for a handsome fretboard. But for the cost of this board, with the beauty it delivers, and the hardness, I'd say it's a winner.

Another amazing wood is the wood under that board. American black walnut. that stuff is so tool-friendly. And it smells so dang good when you cut it.. This walnut, coupled with the katalox laminate.. That neck isn't going anywhere it shouldn't. Very stable. And light as well.

But on the Katalox it's a bit of a different story. It's pretty hard wood. It took a while and a lot of elbow-grease to sand a radius into that board. -But worth it.

I'm also hearing good things about the sonic properties of ABW acoustic guitars. In the not-too-distant future we will be moving in that direction, expanding what we make to acoustic guitars as well.

I'm just hoping that anything that smells that good will also sound as good as it smells.. :)
 

pbekkerh

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It has it's name against it. I thought it was an artificial "wood" like richlite or HPL just from the name ;-)

Does it "ping" just like ebony?

Do you have a photo of the wood after oiling?
 

DaveR

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Another amazing wood is the wood under that board. American black walnut. that stuff is so tool-friendly. And it smells so dang good when you cut it..
Totally a side note, but I agree with you about the smell of walnut. Unfortunately, this seems to be a wood that I'm sensitive to. Any time I work with it, my skin winds up itchy and my sinuses get jammed up. I ran a sawmill for a weekend a few years ago slabbing out a walnut tree, and wound up sick as a dog after with a nasty sinus infection. And walnut splinters tend to get infected for me too. I'm probably going to stay away from it in the future for these reasons, but man it's a nice wood to machine and it turns out beautiful.

That katalox board is quite pretty. I'll probably try one out in the near future.
 
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LtDave32

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It has it's name against it. I thought it was an artificial "wood" like richlite or HPL just from the name ;-)

Does it "ping" just like ebony?

Do you have a photo of the wood after oiling?
I didn't oil it.

That's a 9.5 radius sanded in with a rough 60 grit piece of old belt, followed by 120 grit paper, then 220, then 320, then a rubbing of steel wool. That's the wood's natural beauty without oil.

Pretty hard and high pitched sound when tapped.
 

ehb

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Why is hardly anybody using it? What the heck, boys (and girls)?

I would surmise it is simply because it ain't ebony or rose...

When it was just ebony and rose, period, some folks would look down on rose because 'it just ain't ebony.'

BBQ (Torrified) maple was hellspawn.....but roasted maple is cool beans... go figure.....
Granadillo is looked at the same by some....
The Bakelites are the most consistent and durable 'wood byproduct' in existence but anybody owning a Bakelite board is going to hell for heretickery.... I love em....

Folks do not like change.
Folks are anchored in what they believe is better/best and what blows chunks... whether there is even a microgram of fact...

Folks have played my Goldie with BBQ Maple board.... Loved how it played and sounded, loved the fretboard, etc.... Then I tell them it is a maple board and there comes the 'hog looking at a wristwatch' expression. "Damn. That feels like rose and almost like ebony.' ;)


I always found it interesting too when folks learned that ebony ain't all solid jet black....especially mind boggling to them when they see red streaks and all the way up to cream.... One of the most beautiful woods when it is NOT loaded with black dye...

Folks just do not like change of any kind...

edro.



P. S. You know you want to build an all wenge guitar... :squint:
 

LtDave32

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It looks like a light rosewood. We need to get used to alternative woods, especially on fretboards. Hell, I even like richlite.
Thing is, Tex.. This stuff grows all over Mexico, both North and Southern Mexico. Central America, South America.

It is not on any endangered list like CITIES or any other list.

It has another official name of "Mexican Royal Ebony".

It's common drawback ( if you read comments and reviews) is that it is a tool-duller. This is hard shit, boys. But no harder than other ebonies. So fret boards tend to dull tools after working a few of them. Imagine that? In other words, same as any other.

It's sustainable, grows in abundance, looks great, and is cost-effective where other fret board woods often are not.

I bought 3 boards from LMI for $12 per piece. Right now, they have 2nd grade 5/16 boards for $14 and change.

Shop around, you will find even better deals.

I'm just sold on this stuff. I'm going to order several boards, dip the ends in wax, keep them cool and under flat pressure.

I will dye them for the black ebony look (Hey, it's Mexican Royal Ebony), or when I want a dark brown, I'll leave it natural.

This is the stuff, I'm tellin' ya.
 

LtDave32

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I know but how does it look with oil? Maybe like ebony?
I have no idea. I'm not going to put any oil on it.

You can however dye it. You want it to shine, you sand it to 600, then run some India ink on it. Then buff that lightly with steel wool.

That's what Gibson has been doing for the last century to get their ebony boards a uniform black.
 
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LtDave32

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I would surmise it is simply because it ain't ebony or rose...

When it was just ebony and rose, period, some folks would look down on rose because 'it just ain't ebony.'

BBQ (Torrified) maple was hellspawn.....but roasted maple is cool beans... go figure.....
Granadillo is looked at the same by some....
The Bakelites are the most consistent and durable 'wood byproduct' in existence but anybody owning a Bakelite board is going to hell for heretickery.... I love em....

Folks do not like change.
Folks are anchored in what they believe is better/best and what blows chunks... whether there is even a microgram of fact...

Folks have played my Goldie with BBQ Maple board.... Loved how it played and sounded, loved the fretboard, etc.... Then I tell them it is a maple board and there comes the 'hog looking at a wristwatch' expression. "Damn. That feels like rose and almost like ebony.' ;)


I always found it interesting too when folks learned that ebony ain't all solid jet black....especially mind boggling to them when they see red streaks and all the way up to cream.... One of the most beautiful woods when it is NOT loaded with black dye...

Folks just do not like change of any kind...

edro.



P. S. You know you want to build an all wenge guitar... :squint:

Ay, yi , yi.. Wenge..

I made a fretless, left-handed bass for a guy where I used wenge for the finger board. Coupled with semi-round strings, it retained the snap, but didn't dent. So you don't have to encase the fingerboard in epoxy like Jaco Pastorious.

Delivered to me the absolute worst splinters in my hands in decades of carpentry.

OUCH.
 

ehb

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I remember you having fun with that.... :laugh2:
 

Neffco

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No pictures of the mosrite neck?
 

fatdaddypreacher

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very nice looking board. it strikes me as rosewood, also. i have some ipe i've made a couple of boards out of, but haven't installed them on anything yet. it too seems to be a very good candidate for an alternate wood. hard as the dickens and rings like a bell. bought a whole 1 x 6 several feet long for just a few bucks. probably get 6 or 8 fbs out of it.
 


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