Category Archives: Tonewood

How CITES is changing the future of rosewood in guitars

rosewood_guitar2

http://www.musicradar.com/news/how-cites-is-changing-the-future-of-rosewood-in-guitars

It’s interesting trying to keep up with how guitar companies and the tonewood market are dealing with the new CITES restrictions on rosewood.

It’s pretty clear that most guitar companies have been caught sleeping on the job when it comes to tonewood supply.

Here’s a recent article that puts a spotlight on the difficult times ahead for the industry.

It’s a long read but worth the effort. Here are some of the more relevant sections from a tonewood growers viewpoint:

The specific timing and impact of the latest restrictions on commercial rosewood usage is indeed a headache for the guitar industry, but it comes amid a much longer contextual setting of ecological concern and environmental politics. Which is to say that you don’t have to be Nostradamus to work out what’s coming next. We’re discussing rosewood here, but ebony and mahogany are glowing bright on the radar for more stringent protection.

 

Despite the best efforts of Martin, Taylor and Gibson in pushing the likes of Richlite and HPL for more than two decades now, many guitar enthusiasts – particularly fans of premium instruments – remain uninterested in anything but traditional timbers.

 

Sustainable wood species such as maple, sycamore, cherry and so on may provide some form of halfway house, but it still leaves the big guitar brands labouring with a stark contradiction. By their own admission, they’ve been telling us for decades that the ‘best’ guitars use the ‘best’ rosewood, mahogany and ebony. Their survival as businesses, however, requires much more widespread use of more sustainable materials.

“By their own admission…” indeed. And it still continues. Efforts by most guitar companies to “shift the market” have been pretty mild to say the least.

And we hear that most mahoganies and ebony are next on the list.

New Zealand blackwood growers are looking at a significant opportunity here.

With their plantation resource now maturing just as the global tonewood supply is coming under pressure, it’s the perfect time to be a blackwood grower.

New Zealand blackwood growers need to start making connections into the tonewood market, promoting New Zealand plantation-grown blackwood as a profitable, sustainable quality tonewood.

The opportunity is right now!

As for Tasmania, well we seem to have missed the boat.

No guitar company is coming to Tasmania to buy blackwood or other tonewoods plundered from our conservation reserves at taxpayers expense.

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2017/10/23/tasmanian-rainforest-plunder/

The next 5-10 years will see the global tonewood market completely transformed. Who will be the beneficiaries of this change?

One of the major challenges is that the tonewood market does not know how to engage with the farming community to support and encourage them to grow tonewoods. Getting farmers to make a 30+ year investment planting trees takes a lot of support and encouragement.

Enjoy!

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Timbers with a sustainable timbre

Kirby

Remember my blog about the 2 academics, Chris Gibson and Andrew Warren, from the University of Wollongong, NSW, and their research around forestry and the guitar manufacturing business?

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2017/07/19/unintentional-path-dependence-australian-guitar-manufacturing-bunya-pine-and-legacies-of-forestry-decisions-and-resource-stewardship/

Well here’s a great article about their research. It’s much easier to read than their academic papers.

http://stand.uow.edu.au/sustainable-guitar-timbers/

The two videos are especially enjoyable and informative.

Here’s one of them.

Unfortunately we still haven’t got the tonewood narrative going back to the tree growers yet. It is still about the players, the makers and the sawmillers. The trees just magically exist in the current narrative.

Where are the people planting and managing these tonewood resources?

Enjoy!

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/

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

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?

Guitar Makers Challenged by New Rosewood Restrictions—and What This Means for Players

rosewood2

This article appeared in the August 2017 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine. It makes for interesting reading.

http://acousticguitar.com/guitar-makers-challenged-by-new-rosewood-restrictions-and-what-it-means-for-players/

It doesn’t provide much in the way of new information, but gives insight into the challenges the guitar industry is facing in a rapidly changing tonewood market, and the different responses.

So will the price of rosewood tonewood increase as a result of the new CITES restrictions?

Of course it will!

As supplies of illegal rosewood become restricted the demand for Indian rosewood will increase. Indian rosewood supply will not increase in the short term so price must go up. The basic laws of economics.

Guitar makers are caught between a guitar-buying public that is resistant to alternative species and a shrinking supply of traditional tonewoods.

But anyone who goes to any guitar maker’s website will see plenty of images and products made from rare and exotic tonewoods. Try and find the word “sustainable” on these websites!

The guitar industry does not seem to be terribly serious about the problem.

Bedell Guitars are one of the few standout examples of a company that is trying hard to build a sustainable tonewood future and pushing the market in that direction. Their website is pretty good.

http://bedellguitars.com/

Bedell still believe that logging rainforest and oldgrowth is sustainable and where their future is; unlike Taylor Guitars who are making the move towards plantation tonewoods.

When it comes to alternatives [tonewoods], there’s much more likelihood of supply chains being erratic in terms of quality and supply.”

Given that most of the world’s forests have been systematically plundered this is not surprising.

The guitar industry needs to start from scratch and help replant and grow new tonewood resources. Taylor Guitars are doing this. It’s time for the rest of the industry to get on board.

Tasmanian farmers are waiting to hear from the tonewood market.

Tasmanian blackwood – the [potentially] sustainable tonewood.

The New Maton Blackwood Series

Maton_Blackwood_Line_up_900_405_s

https://maton.com.au/product/the-maton-blackwood-series

Simplicity and purity of tone lay at the heart of the Blackwood range of Guitars.

Pure Blackwood tone -clear, bright trebles, strong mid range and full bass. The all Blackwood construction produces a unique compression, blending frequencies into a new, unique voice.

The Dreadnought Cutaway and the 808 from the New Maton Blackwood Series will be available from the 14th August 2017, the rest of the range will be available later in the year.

There were rumours of this new series of blackwood guitars earlier this year.

And here they are finally in all their blackwood glory.

As a blackwood enthusiast what can I say?

The all-blackwood acoustic guitar should be an Aussie music icon.

Cole Clark has been doing this for a few years now. And finally Maton has joined the team.

My wish is that Maton would open up and tell us the back story of where the wood comes from.

Does the guitar industry want to encourage farmers to grow more quality tonewoods?

Where does this blackwood timber come from? Who grew it? Please tell us the story so that other farmers are inspired!

This new blackwood series would be the ideal opportunity to start that journey.

In the mean time congratulations to Maton.

I hope they sell like hot blackwoods!!

When someone does a video review of these I’ll post it here.

Cheers!

So here is a video of the new all-blackwood EBW70c from Maton Guitars courtesy of The Acoustic Centre in Melbourne, Victoria:

Nice guitar!

Here’s another video from Music Junction in Melbourne:

This new Blackwood Series from Maton seems to be creating quite a stir.

Enjoy!