Why change the Wood Used on the Saddle?

For nearly 100 years Maple has been the main saddle wood of choice for traditional tone and sound projection in resonator guitars. Maple provides “that vintage Dobro tone”, sustain and projection that is characteristic of traditional resophonic guitars for their entire history.

In comparison, other tonewoods have been used for saddles at various times in Dobro history and with varying degrees of success. In a production setting, maple has been consistent and suited to creating a “standard” sound in Dobros. However, individual resos vary in their uniqueness, and in their individuality each reso can be enhanced and customized by using a variety of saddle woods and construction.

Koa Saddles

“The main customization woods that we found to be useful as alternatives to standard maple are koa, rosewood, and ebony tonewoods,” confirms Replogle. 

Koa is an exotic hardwood from Hawaii that has also been associated with resonator guitars since even before their beginning, koa being the preferred wood used in the legendary Weissenborn Hawaiian lap-style slide instruments that were precursors to the Dobro. Koa provides a warmer tone than maple and gives a special softer edge to the tone and projection.

Rosewood is an exotic tonewood – sustainably sourced primarily from India – that has been widely used in acoustic guitar bridges and other instruments for many years. Like its name, Rosewood has a reddish-hue and its tonal characteristics are well-established and respected by luthiers and musicians. 

Ebony Saddle

Ebony is another premium exotic tonewood that hails mainly from Africa. Like rosewood, ebony has been widely used in acoustic guitar bridges and other stringed instruments for many years. Ebony’s tonal characteristics are well-known and highly desirable along with its attractive jet-black coloring.   

Other saddle materials have been tried and have seen limited use over the years, including bone, walnut, delrin and even plastic. After observing and evaluating many of these variations and their functionality, the traditional maple, koa and proven tonewoods of rosewood and ebony are the choice of materials selected by Replogle Saddles for their tone, durability and workability.