If you searched for those terms on a search engine, you probably want to know how a nyatoh wood guitar looks like, and how it sounds like.
Before diving into the subject, know that it’s rare to find a guitar with nyatoh nowadays, as it comes from tropical rain forests, and its use has become controversial. The wood is still utilized for the neck of the guitar, but sometimes, it also appears for the body.
So, what are you going to see on this article? We’re going to review together where you can find nyatoh wood on the guitar, how it sounds like, and of course, how it looks like.
Ready? Let’s begin.
1. Presentation Of The Wood
Nyatoh is a hardwood that comes from Southeast Asia, like India, Indonesia and the Philippines. That’s why you will find most of the guitars made of that wood on Asian websites like Alibaba.
Also, Nyatoh is not to be confused with nato, which is a popular wood that comes from the Mora trees and looks a bit like mahogany. However, sometimes, you will read nato, when looking at the description of an instrument and you won’t know which one it is. If the guitar was made in Asia, there’s a high chance it’s actually nyatoh.
The scientific name for that wood is Palaquium, or Palena, but you don’t have to remember that.
When you purchase a guitar, it’s sometimes difficult to know if a part is made of sapwood or heartwood. The sapwood is usually cheaper than the heartwood. The nyatoh sapwood is light brown, while the heartwood can be pale pink to purplish brown.
2. Nyatoh on a Guitar Neck
Great, now we’ve come to the interesting part.
So why is it used on guitar necks?
Well, basically, it’s a cheap wood. Also, the wood can we worked fairly easily. However, it’s a hard wood to plane and mold, that’s why you’ll rarely find it on guitar bodies.
Keep in mind that it’s a quite heavy wood – though, it depends on its quality too. But for the neck, it doesn’t matter as much as for the body of the guitar.
Also, the texture is fine and soft to touch. It makes it easier for you to move the palm and thumb across the neck.
As for the quality of the wood, well… Don’t expect too much here. It’s a cheap wood, as already stated. The lack of resonance is probably the main issue here. However, it’s warm, and pretty solid. The chance of breaking your guitar neck will be heavily reduced.
Here’s a D’Angelico Premier TD with a nyatoh neck:
3. On Guitar Bodies
Yes, nyatoh can be found on guitar bodies, but it’s pretty unusual.
Also, it’s quite heavy. If you’re playing electric guitar and always standing, or if you have back issues, try to find a less heavy wood instead.
Nyatoh is a warm wood. It’s definitely a good pick for people looking for a cheap alternative when building a guitar similar to Les Paul for example.
4. On Guitar Sides and Back
It’s possible to find nyatoh on guitar sides and back but, it’s even less likely to happen than for the other parts – apart from the fretboard of course. Instruments manufacturers prefer an easier wood to mold like Mahogany instead.
Some Asian guitar makers sometimes use nyatoh for their guitar sides and back. Yamaha was one of them. So if you have a Yamaha acoustic guitar from the 70s, you might have nyatoh on it.
D’Angelico has one model made with nyatoh for the back and sides: D’Angelico Premier SD Electric Guitar. Check it out:
And on this video, you can discover how it actually sounds like:
5. On Ukuleles
You will actually encounter nyatoh a bit more on ukuleles. Why? Well, a ukulele doesn’t need as much resonance as a guitar, and the molding work is less difficult for that tiny instrument.
So where will can you find nyatoh on a ukulele? Anywhere but on the fretboard, in fact. If nyatoh is used on back, sides, neck and top, the price of the instrument can be very low.
This Washburn Oscar Schmidt OU5 has a neck made of Asian nato, click on the image to see more:
6. Price and Where To Buy Nyatoh
Unsurprisingly, you will find nyatoh mostly on Asian websites such as Alibaba. The price can be as little as 1 to 2$ per square meter on that website. But keep in mind that the delivery is long on Alibaba, and if it’s an urgent matter, go for a US provider instead, if you find one – which can be pretty tough.
As a final word, if you care for the planet and for the tropical forests, I don’t advise you to buy that wood at all. Even on a guitar already built – I know, the damage is already done. Otherwise, buy a guitar made with another cheap wood, you’ll find plenty out there. Here’s a list of tonewoods you can find on the guitar.
I hope you’ll make the effort.
Thanks for reading!