Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Infinite sustain

Back in mid-2011 I donated to a Kickstarter campaign to make a film about the issues with some of the woods used in making acoustic guitars. The Sitka spruce used for guitars comes from an area of Alaska that is being 'harvested' by a corporation run by the native Americans. Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars put well when he described what they are doing as mining because they are not growing a crop, they are destroying an environment with no hope of it recovering.

I finally got my download of the film this month and it's moving stuff.

The guitar companies, which also included +Gibson Guitar and +Martin Guitar, were brought together by Greenpeace to see what was happening and they formed the Musicwood Coalition. To build their guitars they need wood from old trees (as in hundreds of years old) and those are running out. Most of the timber is exported for pulp and construction with a tiny fraction being used for guitars.

As of now things are not looking great with the native Americans fighting to get more land allocated to them and not moving forward on getting FSC certification.

There is also mention of the issues of woods from Madagascar. Gibson were raided over potentially illegal imported woods. Not sure what's happening about those woods.

As with many areas we are consuming these resources at an unsustainable rate in the name of profit. The guitar builders will have to adapt and do without some of the woods they are used to. I've read something from Bob Taylor about using ebony that isn't purely black as many trees are discarded because their wood is not what people expect. We can't afford to waste.

Coincidentally I saw this story this week about wood from Swiss forests for violins. I hope they are managing that better.

Some companies are looking into non-wood alternatives, such as carbon fibre, but a lot of people still want those precious woods. We can expect the prices for those to increase steeply.