Indian Rosewood is a sub-species of 'Genus Dalbergia' (commonly known as genuine Rosewood) and for the last 25 years is being used as a replacement for the Brazilian Rosewood, protected against import and export by the CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora] treaty since 1991. Indian Rosewood has become a standard choice even for top quality instruments and can now be considered a traditional tonewood itself.
Indian Rosewood has many similar characteristics as Brazilian Rosewood, but with some differences, mainly in its visual aspects. Like Brazilian rosewood, it is also quite dark - primarily brown, but with purple, gray, and sometimes red highlights, and it is known for straighter, more homogenous grain lines and a lack of ink-line figuring. Some say it is on par with Brazilian rosewood for tone (a few even say it is superior), and though it is far easier to procure and less expensive, it is nonetheless considered the mark of a higher-end instrument. There are arguments that it may lack a bit of the projection that Brazilian rosewood is known for, but this is debatable.
Indian Rosewood has a remarkable yield of overtones. All rosewoods have strongly pronounced low overtones, which help create a complex bottom end that contributes to the richness of tone to the instrument. Detailed mids and highs merge with the overtones generated by the soundboard, adding to a full-bodied sound also in the upper registers.
The result of the rich and complex bottom end and the sparkling top end delivers a tone that is slightly scooped in the midrange. Rosewood bodied guitars are known for a rich, surrounding sound, very suitable to solo playing. Projection and volume are of a premium level, with some saying that the Brazilian may deliver a bit more projection than the Indian Rosewood.
We use Indian Rosewood for many of our Private Build fingerboards; after much searching, we found that the tonal qualities, stability, and grain figures make it one of best fretboard materials, which will last for more than a lifetime.
Due to CITES restrictions on Indian Rosewood import and export, it is only available to the US, Canada and Australia based customers.