Playing Brazilian rosewood is key to understanding its legendary allure.
Isn’t it time you found out for yourself!?
Brazilian rosewood. It’s the one. It’s the tonewood people talk about. Even civilians—i.e. those who don’t play guitar—have frequently heard of the mystical, magical wood that seems to hold such sway over those who do pick, as well as those who collect.
Is it just hype? Is it just rarity?
Why is Brazilian the ne plus ultra, especially when most of a guitar’s tone and projection come from its top?
Sure, some of its hype. We all love a good story, and Brazilian, so vaunted for so long, certainly has that. Given that the wood— its proper name is Dalbergia Nigra—has long been on the CITES Appendix I list of most protected species, with its export from the forest banned since 1992, rarity certainly plays into the allure, too.
But things run deeper than that. All clichés are built on a kernel of truth, and sweet-smelling Brazilian rosewood, like the mighty Adirondack spruce it is often paired with, truly is something special.
It’s just a little bit more. A little bit more of everything. Visually, sonically, spiritually. To many, particularly in combination with Adirondack, Brazilian simply says “guitar.”
Bedell, as you’ve likely heard, has the world’s largest legal, fully traceable library of Brazilian rosewood, and there’s a story there, too. In 2014, namesake Tom Bedell purchased the remaining supply of Brazilian rosewood of the Spanish tonewood concern Madinter, which had acquired stock from the 1960s, with the comprehensively documented timber perfectly drying and curing over decades in climate-controlled Madrid warehouses.
Brazilian isn’t just any wood, and this collection wasn’t just any Brazilian. As much of it was originally intended for ornamental use in churches and cathedrals, the elements had been carefully chosen for their sheer exquisiteness. The resulting cache features many grades in many hues, some so striking and bold to the eye they have been given specific designations like the 450-year-old Milagro; the 500-year-old Esperanza and the stunning sapwood-laced Puerta de Iglesias.
What they all share is tone—both the enigma and the true attraction, at least for musicians, of Brazilian rosewood.
Tone is absolutely subjective and words can only get you so close. Playing Brazilian is key to understanding it. Having the actual elusive wood in your actual can’t-wait-to-play-it lap is the path to true understanding.
You can currently find Bedell Brazilian models (which you are legally free to travel with) at very select dealers, including Two Old Hippies (Nashville, Tenn.), Acoustic Music (Salt Lake City, UT), Acoustic Shoppe (Springfield, Mo.), Harry’s Guitar Shop (Raleigh, N.C.), Action Sound (Hawkins, Texas) and Acoustic Vibes (Tempe, Ariz.).
Despite the legend, many people have never had the chance to play a Brazilian rosewood guitar, much less own one. Much of the legend, in fact, is based on the brilliance of pre-war guitars that have landed in the hands of exemplary musicians like Tony Rice, Norman Blake and Doc Watson. Those vintage instruments, some now legendary in their own right, are beyond the financial reach of most.
Sound Optimized ® Bedell Brazilian rosewood guitars—like the Bahia Orchestra, the Bearclaw Sitka-topped Rio Parlor and the new Limited Edition Dreadnought Cutaway Buckskin Redwood – Esperanza Brazilian—in addition to offering a lifetime of the richest sound available, present a remarkable investment opportunity. They are that rare object you can enjoy every day that will only increase in value over time.
And you will play Brazilian every day. Once you have a sip, you won’t be able to resist.
There is a genuine, tangible weight to the bass, which sweeps and swells underneath every aspect of the instrument’s tone, anchoring your music and embracing it at the same time. No other tonewood provides such a blossom—warm, strong and supportive.
The very best Honduran mahogany sounds plain compared to Brazilian, which bursts forth with a naturally reverb-laden cornucopia of overtones so rich and enduring that the sound is often described in terms reserved for fine wines, expensive spirits and artisanal dark chocolates. But those senses are fleeting—Brazilian lasts forever.
Brazilian never outshines its topwood. Like a true partner, it walks alongside, bringing out its best attributes.
Under Adirondack, as with the Limited Edition Dreadnought Cutaway Adirondack – Unique Brazilian or the classic Cathedral Dreadnought, all the talk you’ve heard is true.
The sheer, vibrant, cutting power of the Adirondack is released, amplified and balanced. Play with bare fingers and every nuance is heard, right down to a whisper. Dig in with a thick bluegrass pick and the articulation explodes, making a tall, dynamic sound, with round, rumbling bass lifting up trebles that positively shine and jangle.
When you are ready to graduate to Brazilian, it will make you a believer, not in the hype, but in the reality, because, with all that humming, eternal sustain and mind-boggling tonal complexity, it really does simply say “guitar.”