Monthly Archives: January 2017

Plantation Koa tonewood in Hawaii

Because traditionally all tonewoods have come from native forests from trees that are hundreds of years old, the tonewood market is pretty obsessed with the opinion that no good tonewood will ever be grown in a plantation environment. It’s almost a religious dogma!

But a handful of people are out to prove otherwise.

My own research on blackwood wood quality and genetics shows that wood quality in blackwood is more about genetics and less about environment or speed of growth.

Bob Taylor from Taylor Guitars and Steve McMinn from Pacific Rim Tonewoods are two people out to show that plantation wood, combined with good research, selection and breeding, will provide a significant source of quality tonewood in the future.

Here’s a great video of what these people are looking to achieve in Hawaii with Acacia koa.

I would love to see a video of the story of making the young planted koa trees into guitars that is mentioned in this video. I think that is a significant story that the tonewood market needs to see and understand.

Paniolo Tonewoods has been working with Haleakala Ranch and Native Nursery on the island of Maui, Hawaii to selectively harvest and to propagate koa.  Here, Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars, Scott Meidell of Haleakala Ranch, and Steve McMinn of Pacific Rim Tonewoods, discuss this exciting project.

http://paniolotonewoods.com/

https://www.taylorguitars.com/

http://pacificrimtonewoods.com/

Paniolo Tonewoods, a joint venture between Pacific Rim Tonewoods and Taylor Guitars, is a new project based in Hawaii, aimed at bringing koa and other ethically-sourced tonewoods to market.

Native only to Hawaii, koa has long been prized for its beauty and versatility. It has traditionally been the wood of canoes, surfboards and guitars.  Koa forests have been much diminished, and good koa lumber is now scarce. All over the world, hardwoods are becoming more difficult to responsibly harvest, yet the demand for beautiful wooden instruments keeps growing.

Paniolo Tonewoods is dedicated to meeting this growing demand with good forest management, reforestation, and innovation.  With Hawaiian groups, we are collaborating on new ways to plant, grow, and manage koa forests to ensure their vitality.

If only I had a few benefactors like Bob and Steve supporting farm-grown Tasmanian blackwood.

PS. I especially like Bob Taylor talking about the “heart and rind of the melon”, and the fact that the guitar industry has to stop only using the “heart” and tossing the rest away. I shall await the arrival of plain-grain maple guitars with much interest!

Select Grade Blackwood Timber for >$10,000 per cubic metre!

Wandering around the internet and here’s the first blackwood timber price list for the new year. This price list is for dressed select grade blackwood timber from a timber retailer in Sydney.trenddbwd

It contains a limited range of sizes.

It also contains little by way of volumetric price increases with increasing timber size to reflect the fact that larger dimension timber can only come from larger trees which take longer to grow and therefore should cost more.

What is shown here are select grade blackwood volumetric prices for the first time getting well into the 5 figures!!

I wonder when Tasmanian farmers will begin to take notice?

Martin Custom Shop 00-14 Fret Tasmanian Blackwood

martin-custom-shop-0014fdb-tazblkwood_2018002_angle-left__80417-1478028819-1280-1280

Here’s another one-off custom guitar from CF Martin featuring Tasmanian blackwood currently for sale from Moore Music in Indiana, USA.

http://www.mooremusicguitars.com/martin-custom-shop-00-14-fret-tasmanian-blackwood-8002/

This little beauty is very much in the traditional CF Martin style. Nothing flash. Just good old honest Martin quality.

 

Body Size: 00-14

Top: Sitka Spruce-Vintage Tone System

Rosette: Style 28

Back: Tasmanian Blackwood

Purfling: HD Zig Zag

Back Binding: 5/32” Grained Ivoroid

Back Inlay: .0325” B/W Boltaron

Sides: Tasmanian Blackwood

Neck: Genuine Mahogany

Neck Shape: Mod Low Oval

Headplate: Tasmanian Blackwood

Tuning: Machines: Gotoh Nickel Open Geared w/ Butterbean Knobs

Fingerboard: Black Ebony (Stain-Yes, Oil-Yes)

Radius: 16”

Width At Nut: 1 ¾” (1.750)

Width At 12th Fret: 2 1/8” (2.125)

Fingerboard Bind: None

Bridge: Black Ebony

 

Nice guitar!

It’s All About The Wood

Here’s a great new video from Cole Clark Guitars about their use of Australian grown timber.

Cole Clark is breaking all the rules and for that they must be congratulated!

http://www.coleclarkguitars.com/

Faced with a diminishing supply of traditional tonewoods, Cole Clark is challenging the marketplace and looking towards a sustainable future.

Their use of non-traditional, and especially the use of fast-grown woods for soundboards, is revolutionary.

At the moment Cole Clark are trialling these woods from salvaged planted trees, of which this video tells a great story.

Cole Clark is also a big user of farm-grown Tasmanian blackwood.

So if you are looking for a sustainable guitar Cole Clark is a good option. Check them out.

Eventually I hope Cole Clark will take the next step on the road to sustainability and promote farm-grown tonewoods.

It’s all about the farmer!

Plant a guitar today!!

Music Industry Advisory on New Rosewood Trade Regulations

rosewood

For Australian readers here is a current list of new regulations around the import, export and personal travel with items containing rosewood timber due to the recent CITES changes:

http://www.australianmusic.asn.au/industry-advisory-on-new-rosewood-trade-regulations/

Please note CITES documentation is generally not required for imports and exports of personal items of up to 10 kg per shipment containing either Dalbergia or any of the three listed Guibourtia species.

Almost all acoustic guitars have at least a rosewood fretboard.

https://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/wildlife-trade/cites

These new trade restrictions on all rosewood species, including Indian rosewood, effectively mean the end rosewood as a commercial tonewood.

Rosewood is regarded as the premium tonewood.

The idea that the music products industry is somehow the innocent bystander in this situation (because little of the rosewood cut in the world goes towards guitars) is from what I understand a bending of the truth. Being a minor party in a crime does not make one innocent.

The adage about “lying down with dogs” comes to mind.

The guitar industry is still generally a very long way from sourcing sustainable timber and being supportive and transparent about it.

And as for customers/buyers who turn a blind eye to the continuing problem.

So what will the market do now?

My guess is they will turn to other rainforest timbers. If they can’t get rosewood at least they can still get cheap timber. The plundering of the worlds rainforests won’t stop just because of the restrictions on rosewood.

Ultimately it must come down to the consumer.

If the consumer wants to help preserve what remains of the planets rainforests then guitar buyers have to start making the tough informed choices.