Any naturalists or scientists among you who can explain the particular properties of rosewood and/or sheesam that make it the preferred material for constructing tabla shells? Is rosewood found elsewhere besides India? In North America? How can you tell if it's rosewood, what are it's distinctions? I'd really love to know. I've also heard that tablas cannot be cut on a lathe...something about a hand chisel and cutting the wood along it's grain that really makes the sound?
The Rosewood family is all grouped under the name "dalbergia" There are some 3 dozen types in the world. What is usually known as "Indian Rosewood" is "dalbergia latifolia" which is a dark heavy wood. What is commonly called sheeshum is "dalbergia sheeshu" which is slightly lighter wood. So most sheeshum is really a light rosewood. The orange looking dayan might very well be neem wood, which is lighter and less dense than sheeshum. Have never seen a toon wood tabla. Calcutta tablas are chiseled out. Most Bombay tablas are lathed out.