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.
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!