Mahogany was a good choice. It's expensive but not too expensive. It's mysterious and exotic. It has a great sound to it - emphasizing both ends of the spectrum. It cuts fairly easily and also lacquers beautifully, even though Grado never really pushed that part of it. The inners are pretty raw and the outers are barely one-coat splashes. But I'll say this much - I'd kill to do such a nice job of putting in all those angles and engraving, etc. Grado does have a sense of style.
The choice of shell really does bring out different qualities in the presentation. I look forward to using some topwoods to see to what extent they help the HF. I've used some fairly inexpensive woods - like poplar, pine, whitewood and cedar - which have a more neutral sound but which also run rings around plastic. I'm a huge fan of cocobolo, which is not only beautiful but wonderfully dynamic in producing great bass. I'm also quite impressed with East Indian rosewood. Brazilian rosewood deserves its reputation as the king of tonewoods, though these others - less expensive and more easily available options - are so good, it's hard to be a purist about it, especially when BR is so expensive and so laden with legal restrictions.
Edited by Bilavideo - 3/11/11 at 3:19pm