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Sustainable tonewoods


j45nick

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I'm not a particular fan of Taylor guitars tone-wise, but I have a lot of respect for Bob Taylor when it comes to his efforts in promoting and using sustainable tonewoods. This is a pretty interesting video that came from Guitar Villa today. One fact that made me pay attention is that Bob states that Taylor builds 140,000 guitars per year. That's a lot of trees being cut.

 

 

http://acousticletter.com/bob-taylor-surprising-true-potential-maple-2-of-3/

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I am still waiting to see the "rebirth" of the birch body guitar. My understanding is the U.S. guitar industry as a whole uses very little wood. The problem is, as they say, with spruce they have to harvest trees at least 250 years old to get enough clearwood to make a top. If we as buyers would get over the whole wood quality grading thing and not worry about a top with a pin knot in it or something it would probably go a long way to helping.

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I am still waiting to see the "rebirth" of the birch body guitar. My understanding is the U.S. guitar industry as a whole uses very little wood. The problem is, as they say, with spruce they have to harvest trees at least 250 years old to get enough clearwood to make a top. If we as buyers would get over the whole wood quality grading thing and not worry about a top with a pin knot in it or something it would probably go a long way to helping.

 

And yet people will pay a premium for a banner-era guitar with a four-piece top with run-out grain, and a dark burst to hide flaws in the wood.

 

We guitar folk can be strange creatures.

 

Weren't most of those birch guitars made out of laminate, ZW? Birch plywood was used extensively in aircraft construction before and during WW2, I believe, particularly for gliders.

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One thing you have to love about Banner Gibsons is they turn conventional wisdom about how to make a "proper" guitar on its ear.

 

All of my birch body guitars are solid. Birch was the cheapest hardwood available. Back in the day, Birch ply would have cost more than solid wood.

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Regarding birch, I could almost swear that properly tuned Ludwig drums with birch sound better than all maple. But naturally, the maple is "better" and more "collectable".

 

Also, I am not sure about this, but didn't certain periods of 335's get made with birch in the play as opposed to all maple?

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Also, I am not sure about this, but didn't certain periods of 335's get made with birch in the play as opposed to all maple?

 

 

That rings a bell, but I can't find a reference. The earliest 335's also had a thinner, three-ply top rather than a four-ply top.

 

Update:

The only reference to this I can find is in Adrian Ingrams's book on the ES 335. He says that the plywood in the ES 335 was maple top/bottom skins, with inner plies of either mahogany, poplar, or basswood, depending on the available supply.

 

I have been told that this book is not definitive on many things, so I wouldn't take that as gospel. I have seen photos of both three-ply and four-ply tops, however.

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I wish there were a program or effort to find and 'harvest' old guitars that are not considered collectible - but were built with a good, solid spruce top. They need neck resets, or have cracks in the back - and are languishing in re-sale shops. I really believe a good luthier could 'reclaim' these tops and affix them to a new body and neck. Alternatively, find a guitar with a kicked in face, but another wise perfect, solid neck - and save that.

As a less astute observation - I believe places like Madagascar (until they got 'wood religion') burned 1000x more wood than what was sold to the evil guitar making industry. And Billy Bob Taylor, in making environmentally based marketing moves like this (and buying tree farms) is more interested in attracting customers who will buy anything that is stamped with a label that says "Green Friendly". I guess I'm just a cynic.

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And Billy Bob Taylor, in making environmentally based marketing moves like this (and buying tree farms) is more interested in attracting customers who will buy anything that is stamped with a label that says "Green Friendly". I guess I'm just a cynic.

 

Bingo.

 

=D>

 

I raise my Styrofoam cup to you.

 

Damn treehuggers.

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I wish there were a program or effort to find and 'harvest' old guitars that are not considered collectible - but were built with a good, solid spruce top. They need neck resets, or have cracks in the back - and are languishing in re-sale shops. I really believe a good luthier could 'reclaim' these tops and affix them to a new body and neck. Alternatively, find a guitar with a kicked in face, but another wise perfect, solid neck - and save that.

As a less astute observation - I believe places like Madagascar (until they got 'wood religion') burned 1000x more wood than what was sold to the evil guitar making industry. And Billy Bob Taylor, in making environmentally based marketing moves like this (and buying tree farms) is more interested in attracting customers who will buy anything that is stamped with a label that says "Green Friendly". I guess I'm just a cynic.

 

 

I think we all recognize that guitars (and musical instruments in general) represent a pretty small percentage of the market for endangered woods. However, we get caught in the crossfire when harvesting and use of certain woods is banned, so I applaud Bob Taylor both for looking at alternatives, and having the foresight to get involved in tree farming. Given the fact that Taylor's production dwarfs that of many other instrument makers, he has a vested interest in keeping wood available.

 

Sometimes, there's nothing like enlightened self-interest to make people do the right thing.

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Bob Benedetto once made an archtop out of junk wood. Might have been pieces of pallets or wood he just found at Lowe's or something. The point he was making is that the craftsmanship and design makes up the guitar and the wood is secondary.

 

I personally would have a hard time paying Bob Benedetto $10,000 for an archtop made out of pallets but I like the idea of using what is plentiful and sustainable for mass produced guitars.

 

I have an old Seagull with a cedar top, laminated cherry sides and back and God only knows what for a neck. It will outlive me for sure. It's not pretty but I wouldn't expect it to be at the price it went for in 1998. Sometimes I think the bulk of their newer models are getting "too big for their britches" and with they'd focus more on the Excursion Series:

 

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/ExcSGINat

 

Seagull.jpg?1376429699

 

And speaking of plain jane, cheap and sustainable, I've never EVER heard a cheap banjo scream like one of THESE:

 

B001Q9F34W-1.jpg

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