Limba was first used in guitar construction by Gibson in the late 1950s in the original Flying V and Explorer models, and was marketed as “Korina”. They were looking for a mahogany-like wood which had the fashionable blonde appearance of their competitors’ guitars, and most people are now agreed they hit the jackpot – it is now considered one of the most desirable and sought-after construction woods for the solidbody electric guitar, and some have even branded it “super mahogany”!
We have been fortunate to source a shipment of limba and have had it thermally treated (roasted) for the benefits that provides to stability, and for the sake of structurally emulating vintage / antique wood at a cellular level. It is medium-weight with a density comparable to Honduran Mahogany, and we think it sounds a lot like Honduran too.
As an open-pored wood, and one which commonly exhibits tiny pinholes, it does require grain filling if a flat mirror-finish is desired. But we think this timber is as delicious as the insects do – beautiful folded grain patterns, rich colour, and with a natural lustre that is only enhanced by the heat treatment. Some pieces even exhibit jet-black mineral streaking that is reminiscent of spalted woods or Brazilian rosewood – every piece is unique, and they all seem to ring like a bell.
We use it for our Thinline JM and Thinline JG bodies, and it has a great deal to recommend it. It is naturally light in colour with subtle yet attractive grain that makes for an attractive transparent or sunburst finish and takes all finishes well, making it a great choice if you plan to apply a ‘soft’ oil or hand-rubbed finish. It is naturally very strong, durable and resonant; so it is a great choice for a hollow instrument with intricate details like f-holes which could be quite delicate in other timbers. In short, it’s used widely in this application, and for good reason.