Fender Guitars now using Tasmanian blackwood

The international profile of Tasmanian blackwood as a premium tonewood just keeps on growing. American guitar makers Fender are now producing a limited release Blackwood Telecaster guitar as part of their Fender Select range.

The Fender Telecaster was originally developed by electric guitar pioneer Leo Fender in 1950, and was the design that finally put the solid-body guitar on the map.


Tasmania’s musical ambassador to the world. A thing of real beauty! An icon.

Now all we need is for a major artist to adopt this Tele as their axe of choice. Any suggestions?

Blackwood Fender

Of course this story brilliantly highlights one of the major challenges that prevents a blackwood growers coop from becoming established. Here we have blackwood being harvested in Tasmania and going to the end of the line, the top of the tree in terms of iconic value-adding, and not a single Tasmanian farmer has been stimulated or motivated to grow more blackwood as a result.

Does anyone else besides me find this situation bizarre?

If we sell cherries to China, apples to Japan or truffles to France it is front page news. But put blackwood on the world stage – literally – and barely a whisper.

Blackwood is Australia’s premier forest product and has been making its way to the very top-end of the value-adding chain for over 100 years. If things had worked out better, farmers would have worked out how to grow blackwood for wood production long ago, and every farm in Tasmania that could, would now have a grove of blackwood managed for quality blackwood timber.

Instead the Government took control and we now have the forest industry on its death bed. It’s time to put the blackwood industry in the hands of the farming community.

Until players in the forest industry (and that includes manufacturers like Fender) come to understand that greater market transparency is essential for its future, then the industry will continue its current freefall. We need to develop regular strong public feedback from all industry players, particularly directed towards current and potential growers.

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