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Inside Yamaha's strategy to secure best wood for pianos and clarinets

Efforts underway to boost yields from precious trees in Tanzania

African blackwood in Tanzania, fine-grained and dense, makes the perfect material for woodwind instruments. (Photo courtesy of Yamaha)

HAMAMATSU, Japan -- Hard, fine-grained African blackwood found in Tanzania is one of the best materials for woodwind instruments. One of the densest woods, it has the ideal resonance for oboes and clarinets heard in concert halls around the world.

The downside is that it rarely grows straight, the way instrument makers would like it to, and any knot or crack makes the material unusable. This is why only 9% of the African blackwood collected makes the cut as instrument-grade.

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