Taylor Custom Shop Grand Auditorium all Blackwood

Taylor Custom GA BW1

https://www.maxguitarstore.com/products/taylor-custom-shop-grand-auditorium-all-blackwood/

Here’s a great Taylor Custom Shop Grand Auditorium (GA) all blackwood guitar currently on the market at Max Guitars in The Netherlands.

Imagine a unique Taylor guitar that’s just yours, brought to life with Taylor’s legendary craftsmanship. Your Taylor. Your way! It’s possible.

Max Guitar stocks a great selection of these Custom Made Taylor Guitars. And lots of customers either pick one from stock or use our stock to inspire them to compose their own design! Simply Choose your category of guitar, pick your body shape, select from a rich assortment of our finest tonewoods including non-standard species and grades, choose from a full palette of appointments, and more. Then we’ll get to work building your Taylor guitar that’s uniquely personalized for your tastes. Ready? Talk to us?

Taylor Custom Shop 9009 is a Unique Custom shop model made at the Taylor El Cajon factory and picked especially by Robbert for Max Guitar!

The exquisite Grand Auditorium Custom model is a special order made in El Cajon and sports a Venetian Cutaway. Built up out of superb tone woods. A Blackwood back and sides and a very resonant Blackwood top that sounds really full! Furthermore ebony fingerboard, MOP binding, dot inlay, Gotoh 510 tuners, The whole instrument is finished in a warm Sunburst and extremely thin gloss finish. Comes with COA and Hardcase.

Bring Your Dream Guitar to Life! Imagine a Taylor guitar that’s uniquely yours, brought to life with Taylor’s legendary craftsmanship.

At €4930 or $A7480 it’s not cheap.

But then it is a custom build.

Things I like about this guitar:

  • The all blackwood body
  • The shaded edgeburst
  • The gold Gotoh 510 tuners (I think gold goes well with blackwood)
  • Those neat fretboard inlays look pretty cool too!

Taylor Custom GA BW3

Made with farm-grown Tasmanian blackwood courtesy of Tasmanian tonewoods:

https://tasmaniantonewoods.com/

https://www.taylorguitars.com/

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Two Great Videos from New Zealand

As many people know the New Zealand forest industry is fully commercial and very successful; perhaps the most successful forest industry in the world.

It is a major contributor to the NZ economy both from local processing and log export. The industry is still largely based on Radiata pine, but that is slowly changing.

The New Zealand Farm Forestry Association (NZFFA) helps to ensure that New Zealand farmers have a strong voice in the forest industry.

http://www.nzffa.org.nz/

They also have a strong focus on extension and support to the farming community.

These two videos are great examples of that focus.

The first video focuses on the economics and commercial returns to growers from forestry investment. These are real examples from real farmers making good money growing trees.

Returns from Harvesting

The second video shows examples of farmers who have grown, milled and used their own timber. Towards the end of this video is blackwood grower and miller Paul Millen talking about farm-grown and milled blackwood.

Using Timber from Trees on Farms

Two inspiring videos for existing or prospective farm tree growers.

Other videos that are worth watching can be found here:

http://www.nzffa.org.nz/farm-forestry-model/resource-centre/trees-on-farms-videos/

It’s a shame we don’t have anything like this from Australia/Tasmania!

Taylor 2010 Spring Limited Editions

2010SpringLTDsa

Above L-R: Tasmanian Blackwood 514ce-LTD, Walnut 414ce-LTD

For the fourth consecutive year Taylor Guitars included Tasmanian blackwood in a limited edition set. Spring 2010 saw 9 limited edition models of which 2 featured Tasmanian blackwood, this time in the 500 series thanks to the highly figured blackwood.

Bob Taylor and his design team herald spring’s arrival with a quartet of limiteds that promise to invigorate the senses.

Our Spring Limiteds have become one of those typically atypical Taylor design projects. Rather than making a firm commitment to come up with something each spring, Bob and his fellow designers wait to see if the product development stars align. Are there any reserves of exotic woods available that invite special treatment? Which models are generating lots of excitement around the factory? We think you’ll be happy with this year’s outcome (Wood & Steel Vol 63).

Tasmanian blackwood is often compared to its better-known cousin, Hawaiian koa. We gathered an assortment of impressively figured backs and sides for this run, making this a special upgrade to our 500 Series. Tonally, blackwood shares koa’s blend of midrange bloom and top end brightness, and will grow sweetly mellower over time, with great dynamic range.

Both models are topped with Sitka spruce and include Ivoroid binding, an abalone rosette, and an all-gloss finish [and gold-coloured tuners].

Tasmanian blackwood is often compared with Hawaiian koa as a tonewood. It’s a natural comparison to make but it can quickly turn to blackwood’s disadvantage if overdone as a marketing strategy. I think Tasmanian blackwood is more than capable of standing on its own two feet (roots??) as a quality tonewood.

Here’s a Spring Taylor 2010 516ce-LTD for sale on Reverb:

https://reverb.com/item/4445536-taylor-516ce-ltd-spring-limited-2010-tasmanian-blackwood-sitka

Production numbers (courtesy of Taylor Guitars) were:

MODEL PRODUCTION
514ce-LTD 301
516ce-LTD 215

 

https://www.taylorguitars.com/

Over four consecutive years 2007-2010 Taylor Guitars produced almost 2,700 guitars across 9 Limited Edition models featuring Tasmanian blackwood.

My next spotlight will be on the 2012 Spring Limited Edition GS mini models.

Previous Taylor spotlights:

2004 Fall Limited Editions – when Taylor Guitars first introduced Tasmanian blackwood

Taylor GS4e 2007 Fall Limited Edition

Taylor 2008 Spring Limited Editions

Taylor 2009 Spring Limited Editions

Gippsland Blackwood Plantation Management Workshop

GAN1

These are notes from a recent workshop:

On Sunday afternoon 22nd April the Gippsland Agroforestry Network (GAN) held a blackwood workshop. The aim was to look at the options of managing a blackwood plantation and put some theory into practice.

In 2011 about a hectare of blackwood was planted on an alluvial creek flat as part of a stream front revegetation project. The blackwoods were planted as tubes at a spacing of  2m x 2m. The intention was to encourage straight vertical growth of the young trees and to restrict their propensity to fork and branch. The trees are now in the order of 6m tall and ranging from 8 to 15 cm diameter at breast height (1.3m).

The field day discussed the New Zealand view that the only way to control the blackwoods  enthusiasm to fork and branch was to continually (annually) form prune and to remove any side branches from the central stem if they were more than 2cm in diameter. Viewing the trees, it was considered that this was probably the best option as despite being form pruned in 2014 (as 3yo stems)  and lift pruned to 2m in 2015, there was considerable forking and co-dominant stems that had emerged since. The conclusion was that form pruning should have been carried out as an annual activity (at least) over the past 3 years.

I hope the field day discussed the New Zealand 3 principles of good blackwood management.

So what is the first of the three principles?

  1. Good site selection.

Was there any discussion about the planting site in terms of rainfall, soils and wind exposure? Without good site selection the chances of success are very limited.

What is the second principle?

2. Good establishment.

The trees were tube stock planted at 2×2 m spacing.

What was the site preparation?

What was the weed control?

Was any fertiliser added?

Was any browsing protection/control used?

And finally what is the third principle?

3. Good management.

We know the trees were form pruned in 2014 and lift pruned in 2015.

New Zealanders talk about annual browsing control, weed control and pruning.

Was weed control used in the first few years?

Every blackwood field day/workshop should focus on the New Zealand 3 Principles.

The need to thin the plantation was also discussed. Clearly, the trees were competing given the close planting and a number had died. Small lower branches above the 2m lift prune were largely dead, significant leaf fall had occurred and the ground beneath the trees was totally bare.  Misshapen trees were identified for culling and there was debate as to the best way to remove them. Stem injection was considered but rejected due to the risk of flashback. It was decided that cutting at ground level was the best option with the wallaby population taking care of the regrowth.  There was also discussion as to the extent of the thinning. Removing all the identified trees (about 60%) would remove much of the vertical stimulus and probably encourage further forking .  As a result, it was agreed that about half the identified trees would be removed this winter and the rest in 12 months. It was noted that this would also reduce the amount of debri on the ground at the one time. The proposed thinning would reduce the density from the current 2000 stems / ha to about 1400 with the second half of the thinning reducing this to about 800.

Lift pruning was then carried out on the selected trees to about 4m and further form pruning was undertaken.

It would be interesting to see what his plantation looks like after some thinning and pruning.

Judging by the photos there would appear to be an opportunity to rescue this plantation.

Thanks to David for passing these notes on.

GAN2

The Radical Sawmill #2

NCFS

Some further thoughts on The Radical Sawmill and the Doyle Log Scaling Factor.

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2017/09/04/the-radical-sawmill/

The American system of trading logs based on the Doyle Scaling factor means that every sale begins with the premise

this log is a liability, the grower must be penalised”,

instead of

this log is an opportunity, the grower must be encouraged to grow more quality logs”.

BF_CUMratio

You would think under these negative conditions any serious forest grower would set up their own sawmill and do their own milling.

Why would a forest grower sell logs into such a punitive market?

Forest Grower and Sawmilling Cooperatives should be the order of the day in the USA.

For a forest industry looking to build its future the Doyle Log Scale is a very bad idea. It does nothing but send a negative message to the market.

Not that the forest products market in Australia is any better. We have our own unique set of punitive measures to discourage private tree growers. But at least we do trade logs based on the small end or mid diameters. Or even a total log volume estimate based on SED and LED. The log is traded as an opportunity not a liability.

 

The Sunrise Sawmill in Ashville, North Carolina is obviously a small business, with limited resources for marketing and promotion.

How much is it really thinking about the future of the forest industry in North Carolina?

The State of North Carolina encourages private forest owners to develop a “Woodland Management Plan”.

http://ncforestservice.gov/Managing_your_forest/why_do_i_need_a_plan.htm

One of the objectives of these Plans is to improve the productivity and commercial value of the private forest through active management.

If I was a sawmiller thinking beyond my own needs to the future of the broader industry:

  1. I’d stop penalising the grower by using the Doyle Log Scaling Factor, and pay for the small end diameter total log volume. Consider each log an opportunity not a liability.
  2. I’d be offering a log price premium (10-15%) to private forest owners who had a Woodland Management Plan in place.
  3. I would also consider supporting and encouraging the development of forest grower cooperatives as a way of building the industry.
  4. I’d be looking to establish good long term relationships with the better forest growers. This means I would have more confidence in the quality of the logs from those growers and be able to offer them a better price. That’s a win-win situation.

In fact the more I think about this the more I realise that whilst the sawlog may be important for the sawmiller for today, this week or this month; what is ultimately more important is the forest grower. How important is this forest grower to the sawmiller and the broader industry? That is the ultimate question for the sawmiller!

Greater log price transparency is a great beginning to help build the forest industry, but I suspect that much more is needed from the forest industry. The New Zealand experience supports this view. A broad level of industry/market support and encouragement is needed for landowners/forest owners to consider investing time and money over such a long period to grow quality wood.

As for North Carolina, North Carolina is home to 18.6 million acres (7.5 million ha) of forestland, 85% (6.4 million ha) of which is privately owned.  Approximately 64% of these privately held lands are owned by non-industrial landowners.  Despite the enormous growth our state has witnessed, 60% of North Carolina is still covered by forests.

https://www.ncforestry.org/nc-forest-data/forest-products-industry-in-north-carolina/

I wonder how many of these NC private forest owners have Woodland Management Plans?

The Radical Sawmill

Sunrise

Sawlogs take a long time to grow! Decades long!!

So if you are a sawmiller looking to secure your resource/business beyond next week or next year, you need to be aggressive in the market place.

Selling sawn timber is fine but if there are no sawlogs coming in, then its game over.

Under the unique resource conditions of the forest industry it could be argued that for a sawmiller, buying sawlogs is actually more important than selling timber!

So here is one sawmiller from Ashville, North Carolina, USA who is very aggressive and up front about securing their future.

http://sunrisesawmill.com/

This sawmill provides a current table of prices they are prepared to pay forest growers for logs delivered to their mill, by species and log grade.

I have never seen a sawmiller in Australia who actively seeks to buy sawlogs in the open market like this.

This is one Radical Sawmiller!

http://sunrisesawmill.com/log-prices/

Converting these prices into something that Australian/New Zealand readers can understand is problematic because:

  • Americans trade logs using board feet (12” x 1” x 1”) as a volume measure; and
  • They confuse the log pricing issue even more by then applying a sawn recovery scaling factor so that the board foot volume changes depending upon the small end diameter of the log. Sunrise use the Doyle Log scaling factor.

The use of a log scaling factor makes the job of the forest grower even more difficult than it already is!

The job of the forest grower should be to grow quality and size/volume. It should be the responsibility of the log buyer to then recover the best value from the logs via markets and/or technology.

The Doyle Log scaling factor uses the log small end diameter (under bark) and log length. There is no allowance for log taper.

So I took the Doyle Table provided by Sunrise Sawmills and did a bit of maths to produce the following chart. As a straight forward conversion there are 424 board feet (BF) in a cubic metre (CUM). With the Doyle Log Scaling factor the number of board feet per cubic metre in a log increases as the diameter increases as the chart shows. This is to account for the fact that sawn recovery increases as log diameter increases. So in the USA log buyers only buy based on a notional “recovery”. The grower pays for wastage. In Australia and New Zealand logs are traded based on total log volume, with the buyers then responsible for maximising the value from the log.

I also did some calculations to see what effect a 2% log taper would have. Obvious it means that the grower is paying for even more waste (less recovery).

BF_CUMratio

On the positive side you could say that using the Doyle Scaling factor encourages/rewards growers for growing bigger trees, with larger logs getting three times the price of smaller logs.

But my feeling is that using this method for trading logs just confuses the issues.

With this chart in mind it is interesting to note the price difference at Sunrise between the veneer vs the prime sawlog. With veneer logs it is possible to get over 95% recovery. So in terms of volume recovered, the veneer and prime sawlogs are essentially the same price! But appearance grade veneer sells for much more by volume than sawn timber. These prices don’t quite add up.

These guys even have their own Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/Sunrise-Sawmill-193257651998/

It is good to see a sawmiller who understands the importance of aggressive transparent marketing in buying sawlogs and securing their future.

The question remains outstanding; does this aggressive marketing and log prices translate into a prosperous community of forest growers in North Carolina?

For Australian readers it needs to be understood that the eastern USA forest industry is entirely dominated by private forest owners. There is no logging of public native forest in the eastern USA. No subsidised sawlogs. If you are a sawmiller in the eastern USA you need to be low cost, efficient and aggressive in the marketplace. It’s all business; no politics! Just like in New Zealand there is no such thing as “resource security” in the forest industry in the USA. Such a concept doesn’t exist!

Oh how I wish this would happen in Australia.

The only basis for a successful forest industry is profitable tree growing (and radical sawmillers).

PS. A target blackwood plantation sawlog (60cm dbh pruned 6m) has approx 360 board feet by the Doyle Scaling factor. At $US1,000 per 1000 MF (Sunrise price for Black Walnut) that equates to $US360 per log. At the current exchange rate of $AU0.80 to $US1.00 that equates to $AU450 per log mill door. In my books that is a pretty acceptable price…….for a premium sawlog. For a premium veneer log I’d be expecting much, much more.

The message couldn’t be clearer

CFM.png

Dear Martin enthusiast,

……………………………..

I’d like to ask you personally to be open to the use of alternative materials.

I love tradition as much as anyone. I believe it’s possible that the new woods we are introducing today can become the accepted and traditional [and sustainable] woods of tomorrow.

 

Sincerely,

C.F. Martin IV

Chairman & CEO

C.F. Martin & Co., Inc.

Having ranted about the guitar industry a few blogs back here I am eating a serve of humble pie.

This is a clear message to guitar buyers everywhere from Chris Martin, CEO at Martin Guitars. This message is in the latest Martin Journal (Vol. 7, p. 9):

https://www.martinguitar.com/about/martin-journal/

Being an old company with a significant product heritage can be a bonus and a drag.

When a large part of your customer base is focused exclusively on your heritage and not on where you want to go in the future then it can be a real problem.

Chris Martin is calling to his “heritage bound” customers –

Loosen up and give us a future……please!

To help drive that message home:

  • CF Martin should start a narrative. A narrative about change and the environment. About customers and guitars. They have made a start (I think) with an article on page 29 of the Martin Journal. It’s a good start but we need more of it; and
  • That message needs to be on the front page of CF Martins website; right there in everyone’s face! You won’t change your customers habits by having the message in the bottom draw of your desk.

The message is clear. There just needs to be more of it.

Good move Mr Martin!

Keep building the momentum for change.

PS. With such a powerful message from Chris Martin, I am surprised that the Martin Journal did not contain a feature article on alternative tonewoods. Was this a missed opportunity?