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Tasmanian Blackwood Growers

Using New Zealand farm-grown plantation blackwood in stringed instruments

Here is a great story featuring New Zealand farm-grown plantation blackwood timber being used in the manufacture of high-end custom-built stringed instruments.

Paddy Burgin is a luthier based in Wellington New Zealand. Paddy has customers from all around the world. Amongst other timbers Paddy uses both Tasmanian and New Zealand grown blackwood to build his custom stringed instruments. The latter is farm-grown plantation blackwood, in this case sourced from a farm at Golden Bay in the far north-west corner of the south island. This particular farmer has been growing blackwood since the 1970s. While Tasmanian blackwood is more commonly used in instruments, examples of NZ blackwood in lutherie are still relatively rare. I suspect this is because a) there aren’t many luthiers in New Zealand, b) NZ blackwood is not widely available outside NZ, and c) there is still a lingering prejudice against plantation wood.

So here is a great example of a weissenborn guitar made from NZ plantation blackwood. Weissenborn are a style of lap slide guitar that was originally developed in the 1920’s in California during the Hawaiian music craze.


Paddy recognises that the NZ blackwood has different tonal properties to Tasmanian grown blackwood but is very well suited to the task of producing quality instruments. As time passes and the NZ blackwood industry matures perhaps a selection and breeding program may develop plantation blackwood that is custom grown to meet the needs of the tonewood market. But it takes pioneers like Paddy to challenge our prejudices and help drive the future of the tonewood and blackwood industries. Check out Paddy’s web site and read this great story. Thanks Paddy and keep up the great work!

PS. More blackwood stories from New Zealand would be greatly appreciated……



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