Sourcing Rosewood

The founder and builder of perhaps the finest five-octave marimba in the world, Ron Samuels combines a reverence for fine woods with a trained ear from years of playing classical piano. Now his focus is how to derive an ever higher level of sound quality while maximizing the playing experience for the musician.

Every marimba we build is a “voiced” marimba.  Each piece of rosewood on each of our marimbas has been through a long journey to make it onto a marimba one.

Our rosewood keyboards start with us traveling to Central America to individually select each piece of wood that will ultimately become part of a concert quality marimba one.  We hand inspect each piece of wood to make sure the grain configuration is conducive for tuning a high quality marimba bar, while also carefully inspecting for any defect.

Once the wood reaches our manufacturing facility in Arcata, California, we first air dry the wood, then kiln dry the wood, and finally  mold the wood into the various bar profiles that we use on our marimbas.   From here, we cut the bars to length, cutting each individual bar in batches of 40 to 80 each.

As we are cutting each bar, we grade for sound (still un-tuned) and are constantly looking for any flaws in the wood.   Even before the bar is tuned, we can tell its potential to become a high grade bar by listening to its resonance.

Every bar at marimba one is individually hand tuned. We listen to each bar to determine how it needs to be tuned so that we can maximize its musical qualities.  

Every customer chooses the “voicing” for their keyboard.   Based on this description of how they want their marimba to sound, we select the bars that best match their description. 

With rosewood, from start to finish, we are always thinking about sound quality and how to bring out the clearest and most musical voice in each piece of wood.