Native timbers lure big guitar makers

ABC Radio

Tasmanian Country Hour

Friday, 25 January 2013

My friend Robert MacMillan (Tasmanian Tonewoods) was recently interviewed by Rose Grant on the ABC Radio Country Hour, providing a small window into what is currently happening in Tasmania regarding the tonewood market. Read the story and listen to the podcast.

As I’ve said previously, the international tonewood market has the potential to completely change the future of blackwood in Tasmania. Major buyers are looking for new sustainable supplies, and blackwood is already regarded as a premium tonewood. There is a large existing blackwood resource on private land that can supply current tonewood demand.

It’s great and so rare to get some real market information about blackwood. If this information was more regular and transparent, we would know much more about prices and product specifications. This would then help generate interest in growing blackwood and hence help build a growers cooperative.

In this interview Robert provides some indications of current demand (20 truck loads per year), product specs (almost –dead trees?) and pricing (fiddleback more valuable than plain grain), but it is really just a teaser. I don’t think it provides enough detail to get farmers to take notice in harvesting their existing trees, let alone consider planting more blackwood. But it is a start.

It would be even better if some of these major US guitar builders would come here and do some media and promotion in support of growing blackwood. If they think that sustainable farm-grown blackwood is going to happen with no transparency and promotion then they will be sadly disappointed.

Also checkout Roberts recent interview with Barratts Music in Launceston. Great work Bob!!

Recently I was contacted by a very well known Tasmanian custom furniture builder. I’ll call him M. We had a long conversation on the phone about forestry, blackwood, and future possiblilities. M prefers to source most of his timber from private land as he doesn’t support current forest industry policy and practices on public land. M is very interested in the growers coop proposal. Particularly the prospect it offers in the future for selecting and breeding premium blackwood cultivars such as fiddleback. I certainly value having M’s support, as things have been a bit quite lately.

I hope everyone had a great summer break, and are refreshed and ready for another year. And I hope the Legislative Council Committee see the light and approve the TFA Legislation.


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