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For nearly two hundred years, Caesalpinia echinata wood has been the standard for modern bows. However, the threat of extinction and the enforcement of trade bans have required bow makers to seek alternative woods. The hypothesis tested was that woods with physical, mechanical and acoustic properties similar to those of C. echinata would have high potential as alternative woods for bows. Accordingly, were investigated Handroanthus spp., Mezilaurus itauba, Hymenaea spp., Dipteryx spp., Diplotropis spp. and Astronium lecointei. Handroanthus and Diplotropis have the greatest number of similarities with C. echinata, but only Handroanthus spp. showed significant results in actual bow manufacture, suggesting the importance of such key properties as specific gravity, speed of sound propagation and modulus of elasticity. In practice, Handroanthus and Dipteryx produced bows of quality similar to that of C. echinata.