Tone by Specific Gravity
Strongest Tone (1.0+ SG, sinks in water)
The bones on this page produce the Strongest tones.
Specific gravity tells you how buoyant one substance is from another. It compares the weight of a material with an equal volume of water. As a rule, the greater the specific gravity, the heavier and denser the material. Since water has a specific gravity of 1.0, materials measuring less than 1.0 will float. Materials measuring more than 1.0 will sink. So if you want mild tones, then get bones that float. If you want the strongest most solid tones, then get bones that sink.
How to Find Bones with the Tone Quality You Want
What is the difference between a mild tone and a strong tone? It's just the difference in tone relative to specific gravity. Scroll down to view musical bones grouped by similar tone quality.
- Higher moister content produces lower tone. Lower moister content produces higher tone.
- Smooth textured bones produce sharper tone. Rough textured bones produce duller tone.
- Wide bones produce a greater tonal range than narrow bones composed of the same material.
- Thick bones produce lower tones than thin bones composed of the same material.
Choose less buoyant bones when you want mild tones that won't overpower other instruments. Choose bones that sink in water when you want the strongest most solid tones possible to help you stand out from the rest of the band. Heavy dense bones carry additional mass which provides the kinetic energy you need to make a pair of bones rattle easier. But if you want milder tones, then choose bones that like to float.
Specific gravity is also called relative density. In French, density is "masse volumique." Specific gravity is "densite."
Specific Gravity Guide
SG (specific gravity)
Figures are approximate (but pretty darn close)
.37 Cedar, Western Cedar
.59 Mahogany, Teak, Walnut
.65 Canary Wood
.74 Chechem, Zebrawood
.75 Peroba Rosa
.76 Osage Orange
.77 Purpleheart, Shedua, Vermillion
.80 Goncalo Alves
.82 Michigan Ironwood (est)
.88 Bubinga, Wenge
.91 English Boxwood, Jatoba
.95 Mexican Kingwood (est)
.96 Rosewood, Satinwood, Tulipwood
1.10 Cocobolo, Granadillo
1.37 Lignum Vitae