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Posts: 143
Reply with quote  #1 
I have been working with John Helie, a wood carver, to develop tagua nut jabas. He's made some prototypes and I've used them on both sarod and sursringar and have been impressed with the feel and tone. They are also quite beautiful.

Some info on tagua nut from his website:

"Tagua ("tah-gwa"), also called ivory nut or vegetable ivory, are primarily the nuts of the Tagua palm tree (Phytelephas macrocarpa) that grow in tropical rainforests. Other palms of the same subfamily also produce ivory nuts. The size of the seed varies from the size of a cherry to a tennis ball, the average size being that of a plum. The nut has a dark brown, bark-like skin. The natural color of tagua is ivory white and resembles the finest animal ivory in texture and color but can vary to an ivory-amber. It is close grain and very hard, but is more dense and resilient than that of elephant ivory and similar in durability. There is usually a void in the center of the nut. When ripe the nuts fall to the ground and are gathered and dried from four to eight weeks after which they become extremely hard. The nut is not toxic."

and from Wikipedia:

"Given trade restrictions in elephant ivory as well as animal welfare concerns, ivory palm endosperm is often used as a substitute for elephant ivory today, and traded as vegetable ivory, palm ivory, corozo or tagua. When dried out, it can be carved just like elephant ivory; it is often used for beads, buttons, figurines and jewelry, and can be dyed. More recently, palm ivory has been used in the production of bagpipes. Vegetable ivory furthers important environmental and socioeconomic goals by stimulating the local economies and microenterprises in South America, provides an alternative to cutting down rainforests for farming, and prevents elephants from being killed for the ivory in their tusks."

Here are some photos of the prototypes. The brown lines on the body of the jaba surface are totally smooth and are left for decorative effect. The "bark" on the top of the jaba is a left a little rough as a gripping surface. I find that I don't need these to be wrapped in wax due to the texture at the top. The one on the left is symmetrical and the other two are asymmetrical and carved to fit ergonomically between the thumb and first finger. They are very comfortable to hold.

The jaba in the center has been heavily used and has begun to change color.

Thank you to all of the contributors to the various "Jaba" threads on this forum for your ideas about alternative jaba materials and technical specs, particularly Aparajit and Wilsaxo.

You can contact John if you are interested. I have no financial interest, btw.

Attached Images
jpeg Tagua Nut Jaba Front.jpg (21.57 KB, 2 views)
jpeg Tagua Nut Jaba Back.jpg (20.67 KB, 2 views)


Posts: 163
Reply with quote  #2 
I've made one from tagua nut and love the feel and the tone. It seems both louder and brighter but at the same time a balanced and sweet tone. I've been wanting to hear a real sarod player (I am not!) use one to see what they think.


Posts: 100
Reply with quote  #3 
I will try and find some here locally so I can make a pick and check it out. My own practice is shattered since I have terrible trigger finger on middle finger of right hand. It is severely depressing. Hopefully I will start playing again soon.

If anyone can share a link on mechanical properties of the taqua nut, that would be good.


Posts: 100
Reply with quote  #4 
Read all the issues related to Tagua here....

Read the commentary by "SKIP" in the forum thread in the link above.

I would love to mess with the tagua nut just for the sake of doing it but for long term jaba use, I would go with Nylon.
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