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Limba has been an historically important wood in Africa, sue, in part, to its universal popularity. Although its population was considered threaten, from overexpolitation in the first half of the 20th century, a concerted effort was made — a most successful one — to preserve the species and expand its natural range, through numerous regional and national efforts made from the ’50’s through the ’70’s, all over West and Central Africa.
Limba has a charcteristic light base color, ranging from a pale yellow to a light golden brown, to a pale tan — and sometimes muted to the point of having a greyish appearance. It often has dark brown or black overlapping highlights (as well as lighter colored patches, occasionally, ranging from yellow to orange), which is what distinguishes White Limba (also called “Korina”) from Black Limba (same wood / same species; just differing aesthetics). It sap is only slightly lighter in color than its heart and can sometimes be difficult to discern.
Despite its medium to coarse texture and a small silica content, its typically straight grains (those sometimes irregular or interlocked) and modest hardness and density make it generally quite easy to work. Its glues and finishes well (with a moderate natural luster); its base color takes on a more golden tone under a clear lacquer finish. It is considered neither a tough or durable wood, so such finishing is recommended.
Sustainability: Not currently listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Furniture, veneer, musical instruments [in particular, electric guitar bodies and (sometimes) necks, and acoustic guitar body shells (back & sides)], turnings, interior trim, ping-pong / table tennis paddles and other laminate applications.
Comments: This wood became quite popular with US electric guitar builders, after being glamorized by Gibson Guitars in 1958, with its exclusive use as a body and neck wood with the introduction of their radical “Flying V” and “Explorer” models. (It was Gibson who actually dubbed the name “Korina” for the wood — a name by which it is now commonly known, and called, within the US guitar luthier community.) To this day, it remains a very popular wood for guitar necks and, especially, bodies; although it should be noted that the wood is decidedly non-durable and is susceptible to insect attack.
By the early 1950’s, the wood was thought to be severely endangered. Efforts were made to replant the wood in plantations across it natural range, for the next twenty-plus years, the results of which witnessed the species expand beyond its original rainforest habitat — making its way into savannah areas and even penetrating regional evergreen forests.
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