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Long story short, I recently got a chance to visit Hawaii a few months ago, and while there really fell in love with all of the Koa wood stuff they have there. The wood is really beautiful, but the problem is that it's really expensive (they can only harvest downed or dying trees).

My question is does anyone know of a wood that is similar in grain and color to Koa? I'm not interested in its tonal properties, just the grain and color.

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Image for those unfamiliar with the wood.

  • I love koa, but since it was severely overharvested a few decades ago, it's expensive. For the natural koa it's true that it's hard to get, but there are Koa farms now, so yay for that :) – Daniel B. Mar 26 '15 at 20:22
  • I'm not familiar with Koa but pictures on the Wood Databased reminded me of Black Walnut. – Maxime Morin Mar 26 '15 at 20:26
  • Black Walnut is a few shades darker. Koa tends to be more ... "Golden," I guess I would say. Though ... after walnut has been in the sun for a few years and otten lighter, I think the colors are similar. – Daniel B. Mar 26 '15 at 20:30
  • I was just looking through the wood-database.com and the koa in the database does not look as "rich" as it does here. Was having an issue matching it up. – Matt Mar 27 '15 at 14:26
  • I'm not going to post an answer, because I know almost nothing of wood types, but as koa is used for instruments for its look as well as its sound, you could try looking at instrument makers; e.g. Australian Blackwood seems to have a similar look. avalonguitars.com/guitars/woodsound/australian-blackwood – Whelkaholism Dec 16 '15 at 14:46
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Pau Ferro looks like it is similar to Koa, but I think it will be tough to find a wood that looks exactly like Koa. Also, Pau Ferro is from South America, so it is possible that it would be even harder to source than Koa. The below photo is sealed/finished Pau Ferro; its natural color is a lighter matte, but the grain pattern (save for the amazing quilting) is very similar to Koa.

Sealed Pau Ferro courtesy of the wood database -- www.wood-database.com

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    Very nice! Also note other names: Morado, Bolivian Rosewood, Santos Rosewood. I note that the site I found that sells it has the price listed as "call us." That's never a good sign. The same place (hearne hardwoods) lists figured koa at $60/BF. – Daniel B. Mar 27 '15 at 16:23
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There is a reason why koa is so expensive: it truly is one of a kind. In fact, not even all koa looks like that pictured. I have some that is much plainer in appearance. Other woods that have similar hues usually don't have the figuring, and vice versa. If you are interested in the color palette, you can look at woods like cocobolo, bocote, ziricote and other members of the rosewood family, but be aware that those will not be much less expensive. All of the pau ferro I have used is not like that pictured in the other answer, but wood varies greatly even within a species.

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