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Wood for guitars is running out


slk

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The biggest shame would be if the next generation could not get to experience guitars, or any crafted instrument made with the goal of sounding good. Screw investment value.

 

Already as it is, THIS generation of younger poeple don't know what a high fidelity stereo system sounds like. No concept of it.

 

I am not what you would call an "environmentalist", I might even be considered the enemy of them to some. And while I remain skeptical of "global warming" and the politcs of it all, I DO believe we are on a corse to run out of certain trees.

 

If you just look at a satalite photo of earth at night, and grasp how little of the earth's surface is full of poeple compared to the empty or sparsely populated areas, and then compare the areas of trees and forest that have gone away, it becomes evident that our hunger for wood and the amounts we use or waste is far, far more than we could hope to sustain.

 

Things change, I get it.

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I don't know who in the heck is buying all the guitars being produced NOW. It makes no sense to me. It's not like the average person breaks theirs or wears it out and needs to replace it.

 

I don't put guitars in the same class of consumer goods as a toaster or tv set. I consider them to be more durable, in the sense that one could easily last the original purchaser a lifetime. I realize that's not likely to happen; we buy and sell all the time... but good god, man, the sheer numbers that are being cranked out and then people wonder why we are running out of some breed of rosewood that only a certain type of red ant will fornicate on under a waxing moon so that we can brag to our friends about it?

 

Christian Frederick Martin might have been in a position to do that, maybe Orville too, but I really, REALLY don't think it's realistic to think we can just keep cranking out 'prettywood' guitars like we have.

 

I am very much a fan of sustainable woods but there's not much status in that.

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Guitar wood has been "running out" for as long at I can remember. Strange when you consider that I have to grub maple trees out of my fence lines all year long.

 

You can make a guitar out of just about anything. There's almost no real reason to make a solid body out of wood so I wouldn't worry too much.

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It takes several hundred years to grow a spruce big enough to produce a solid acoustic top.

 

I'm always amazed at the ring density and the lack of imperfections in old growth Sitka Spruce tone wood.

When that is gone, there will be no more. Not in my lifetime, or many lifetimes.

 

Solid bodied electric guitars are another matter. I'm no expert, but I think electric guitar music is usually so modified that the tonal qualities of the wood is probably insignificant.

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Me, I've seen that more trees the past 20 years have been destroyed by "environmentalists" around where I live than by logging. They're left to the bugs - literally - and fire instead of harvesting and milling them while replanting others.

 

In 1874 the U.S. Army took batches of photos of the places that today ain't forested with pine. Then similar photos have been taken over the past 30 years or so and there were far, far, far more trees. In fact, so many trees that since logging was functionally outlawed, the pine bark beetles have left huge patches, square miles, turned from living green to dead red, ripe for an explosive wildfire.

 

So... I guess my personal take on this is that "we" should be doing a lot more to see trees as a sustainable resource rather than harvesting them all or "saving" them all.

 

Some species will take much longer to replenish, especially given their natural habitats.

 

But it appears to me that "we" have had a degree of supply difficulty for guitar tonewoods since I've been pickin, and that's over 50 years. I dunno if that's due to imperfect planning to allow woods to cure or entirely that they're unavailable.

 

Yet... I also think we'll have a lot more non-wood parts on guitar as time goes on, whether "we" like it or not. Me, I miss ebony fingerboards, but I'm not that certain that some of the non-wood options are all that bad. Ovation guitars ain't as bad as some argue. Different, not bad.

 

I'd hate to think, though, that at some point the only all-wood guitars will be the equivalent of $50,000 U.S. today.

 

m

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I don't know who in the heck is buying all the guitars being produced NOW. It makes no sense to me. It's not like the average person breaks theirs or wears it out and needs to replace it.

 

I often wonder that myself. There are a LOT of guitars made each year, of all kinds of quality.

 

I think one thing, is that many of us have more than our fair share. Lots of folks buy guitars, and GOOD ones, that don't really need them. That's likely most of the market.

 

But, where do they go? I know that a lot of collectables and certain others have gone to Japan.

 

Still, I can't wrap my head around it.

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Guitar wood has been "running out" for as long at I can remember. Strange when you consider that I have to grub maple trees out of my fence lines all year long.

 

You can make a guitar out of just about anything. There's almost no real reason to make a solid body out of wood so I wouldn't worry too much.

I think we are already seeing it on some levels. Brazilian rosewood is the main one that comes to mind.

 

I don't think it's a matter of running out completely, but it is a matter of coming to the end of enough supply to be able to harvest. It's not likely there will ever be exceptions made for musical instruments.

 

I have no doubt there will be alternatives, I just don't have faith they will be as good. Not because they can't be, I just wonder if the effort will be made.

 

I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see in our lifetime, real music being made as the result of natural instruments becomes the exception.

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So... I guess my personal take on this is that "we" should be doing a lot more to see trees as a sustainable resource rather than harvesting them all or "saving" them all.

 

Some species will take much longer to replenish, especially given their natural habitats.

 

 

m

I don't have real knowledge or experience, but I agree with everything you say here. It IS what I see.

 

My best guess for the future, and how we handle "sustainability", is that slower growing trees will be replaced by faster growing ones. Hardwoods will be replaced with prettier looking softwoods with more emphasis on finish materiels, and hardwoods as we know it will be scarce and expensive.

 

In other words, hardwoods won't be planted or re-planted for use. That valueable land will be used for whatever grows the fastest and gets the best return.

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