Award winning Tasmanian blackwood double bass


Sydney-based double bass luthier Matthew Tucker has recently won the Silver Medal for Tone at the 2015 International Society of Bassists (you didn’t know such a group existed did you??) Convention in Fort Collins, Colorado.

As the website says double bass judging consists of two quite different but very important factors: workmanship and tone. Certificates and Silver Medals are awarded in each class.

For an instrument to receive the coveted Gold Medal, it must have been recommended by all judges for a Silver Medal in both the workmanship and tone categories. In the history of the ISB Makers Competition there have been only four Gold Medals awarded.

So a silver medal in Tone is a huge vote of support for Matthew Tucker and for Tasmanian blackwood as a quality bass tonewood.

I took the bass over in June and entered it into the international makers competition, in a field of 25 makers. The Silver Medal is the highest award given in that category.


Here’s what the Judges said:


“Very easy to play. Lovely upper register G string, with a refined sound, excellent projection and good balance overall across the strings … the solo quality is striking. Although delicate, the sound has wonderful bottom to reinforce it.” – John Clayton


“Beautiful, clear and compelling tone, good consistent dynamic range and seamless response. Truly exceptional ergonomics … too easy to play! A fantastic, versatile bass” – Or Baraket


“This is a wonderful, easy to play travel bass especially for solo, jazz and chamber group.” – Nick Scales

 The bass is now on sale and can be played at AES Fine Instruments in New York.

Congratulations Matthew! Fantastic result.

Labor backs special timbers logging in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area


State opposition leader Bryan Green today announced a policy for Tasmania’s special timber industry, supporting logging within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA).

After a brief hiatus the Labor and Liberal parties are once again in lock-step on forest industry policy in Tasmania.

Once again forest industry policy in Tasmania is driven by politics, waste and community conflict.

“tread widely, tread lightly”

The politicians want us to believe that special timbers is only about fairy land, a magic wand and elvish forest management.

There is no mention of UNESCO, the World Heritage Committee, Forest Stewardship Council, taxpayer subsidies, sacking teachers and nurses, or the last 30 years of politics, waste and community conflict.

Nor is there mention of private blackwood growers.

Instead our politicians will wave the elvish wand and middle earth will magically appear.

It’s just rubbish and deception.

Forestry is not a taxpayer-funded community service!

Nor is this middle earth!

Last month, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee urged the Australian and Tasmanian governments to ban commercial logging within the TWWHA.

So in good old fashion style our State politicians are once again joining forces to wage war over our forests.

The Tasmanian community will once again be the losers.

With classic political vote winners like “long-term security”, “consultation” and “striking an appropriate balance” we have heard it all dozens of times before.

Absolutely nothing has changed for our pollies.

Except now a lot more Tasmanians are sick and tired of the conflict and nonsense around the forest industry. Not to mention squandering $millions of taxpayer dollars and sacking teachers and nurses, and charging electricity users to help subsidise the forest industry. A lot more Tasmanians will express extreme displeasure if this nonsense continues.

Specialty timber groups believe they were left with an extremely restricted resource after the Tasmanian Forest Agreement was finalised in 2013 and new tracts of forests were declared off-limits. The agreement was repealed by the current Tasmanian Government in 2014.

What absolute rubbish! So called specialty timber groups were left without a (public native forest) resource because of 30+ years of failed forest industry policy; a policy that tied the industry to the election cycle and gave everything to industrial woodchipping leaving nothing but platitudes and tears for the specialty timber groups.

I must say after listening to this sort of rubbish for 30+ years I’m getting pretty sick of it. The culture of entitlement within the forest industry that former Gunns CEO Greg L’Estrange mentioned recently is certainly prevalent within sections of the special timbers industry.

The forestry wars are well and truly heating up once again.

Stand by for the media/community backlash.

The special timbers industry is on a hiding to nothing.

When will Tasmanian get a fully commercial and profitable forest industry?

Blackwood sawlogs achieve record price at auction REVISITED


Since it was first posted this blog has consistently been one of the most frequently visited by readers of this website.

Clearly it says something that readers find compelling.

In terms of its message and impact on the forest industry, State forest policy, the farming community or the media however there has been little response.

Profitable tree growing and transparent, competitive market processes remain completely irrelevant to State forest policy and the forest industry.

If we treated our dairy, beef and vegetable industries in such a manner Tasmania would be in serious trouble. But the forest industry remains a victim of its heritage dominated by politics, a public resource and a community service ethos.

Does Tasmania want a forest industry? If so then the price of logs and profitable tree-growing must be at the centre of policy and management.

So how can Tasmania move towards a fully commercial and profitable forest industry?

The industry does not need more behind-closed-door deals, nor more reports and strategies. The industry needs to demonstrate serious commercial muscle, and a burning desire to leave the politics and conflict behind.

So tell me readers, why is this blog of such interest to you?

PS. Here’s a thought bubble!

Imagine what the forest industry would look like today if 100 years ago we had included prizes (trophy or ribbon) in our regional agricultural shows for the best sawlogs, in the same way we have prizes for livestock, wool fleeces, fruit, veges, etc. Farmers who managed their forest or plantations would bring in their very best dressed sawlogs to get judged. All of the entries could then be auctioned off.

Imagine a rural community that took as much pride in forest/plantation management is it does in beef, sheep, wool, vegetables, etc. That of course would depend on the marketplace supporting and rewarding such a community attitude, as the marketplace does for most other primary industries.

What do you think? Comments?

Sunday morning eye candy

Here are some beautiful photos of a top-of-the-range Maton acoustic guitar from the Guitar Factory in Parramatta, Sydney, featuring some stunning fiddleback blackwood.

Designed as a tribute to our founder, Bill May and to bring the best of our heritage and our guitar making skills together, the W.A May is a guitar for the connoisseur.

Victorian Blackwood (in our opinion the best tone wood available) back and sides combine with blackwood neck and AAA spruce face to produce a huge sounding dreadnought guitar. Add to that our unique Custom Shop voicing and craftsmanship, you have a guitar worthy of the name W.A May

That it features Victorian blackwood is fine by me.

It’s almost too good to play!


Wish List


With the current discussion about creating a single national farming body in place of the various State-based organisations such as the TFGA (see item 5. below) , I just realised the National Farmers Federation does not regard forestry as a primary industry. Very curious! They don’t regard Australia’s wine industry as a primary industry either. Clearly the NFF has a pretty myopic view of the rural sector.

So there’s not much hope of getting support for private forestry from the NFF. Pity!

Originally posted on Tasmanian Blackwood Growers Cooperative:


The forest industry in Tasmania is heading towards oblivion, at least the part of the industry dependent on the public native forest resource. Decades of poor policy, politics and conflict have reduced the industry to a smoking ruin. But we seem to have trouble learning from past mistakes and from other people’s successes. Getting people to invest in the forest industry (from planting trees to investing in sawmilling and processing equipment) just won’t happen under the current regime. So here is my one dozen wish list:

  1. We need to start thinking of forestry as a primary industry and not as a Government-run, politically-driven, employment program. Sure it has a few unique features like a long investment time lag, but forestry is about business and profits; markets, costs and prices. It is not about politics or employment! Most wood now grown and sold in Australia comes from private tree growers. It…

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Cole Clark ‘Australian Eco’ series

Some good news for a change from the usual political/forest industry dramas.

Cole Clark FL2EC-BLBL-AE

Melbourne-based Cole Clark guitars have just announced their all-Australian Eco series.

These new models feature 100% sustainable timbers by replacing endangered timbers with sustainable Australian substitutes“.

Farm-grown Tasmanian blackwood features prominently in the series.

For those wanting to avoid rainforest timbers these are a great alternative.

The idea of an all-Australian commercial guitar has finally become reality.

Now the next step is to get farmers to actually start to plant and manage these timbers. I suspect most of these timbers are salvage logged rather than the result of active management.

But one step at a time.

Congratulations Cole Clark!




Well that didn’t take long now did it?

And some nice reassuring words of departure from Ms Smith.

The Forestry Advisory Council is clearly only allowed to offer “advise” within a small gamut of opinions and options. Such a waste of effort.

Originally posted on Tasmanian Blackwood Growers Cooperative:


Isn’t this just so predictable and pathetic?

Just when we start to get some real debate and transparency into the Tasmanian forestry wars along comes the Honourable Minister and slams the door.

It was so newsworthy that it made both the major State news media.


What is the purpose of an advisory council if “everyone is on the same page”? That’s not an advisory council. That’s a political smokescreen, a whitewash!

The whole purpose of an advisory council, as Sue Smith said, is to promote and foster vigorous, open discussion and canvas as wide a range of opinions and options as possible.

The Tasmanian forest industry is going absolutely nowhere until the future of Forestry Tasmania is resolved. And after 21 years we know that the GBE business model has been a total failure. Forestry Tasmania remains the “albatross around the neck” of the forest industry.


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