Utne Blogs > Environment

How Green Is That Guitar?

 by Keith Goetzman

Tags: Environment, wood, forests, guitars, Music Wood Coalition, E magazine, Houston Chronicle,

E-Wind-CoverImagine a vintage acoustic guitar of the future: Tight-grained, rich-toned, and made from a wood that no longer exists. That’s a future some guitar manufacturers are trying to avoid by banding together with Greenpeace in a green-guitar alliance called the Music Wood Coalition, writes Drew Pogge in the Jan.-Feb. E magazine.

The coalition includes virtually all the top acoustic guitar makers—Gibson, Fender, Martin, Yamaha, and Taylor—which either means that this is a vast greenwashing conspiracy or that they have all seen the writing on the fretboard.

The latter seems more likely. Brazilian rosewood, a prized “tonewood” for guitar makers, was logged to near extinction and is now controlled by the international CITES treaty. Ancient rosewood stumps are still logged for guitar exoticists and at least one band name—the Rosewood Thieves—seems inspired by the wood’s mythology.

“Our beloved Brazilian rosewood was taken from us more than 25 years ago,” Bob Taylor, cofounder and president of Taylor Guitars, tells E. “Adirondack spruce was logged out. Today we see the signs of our current woods being diminished to a point of unavailability. … Alternative woods are the key to successful guitars. But the market needs to go there all together.”

Maggie Galehouse at the Houston Chronicle tells the story of the coalition’s formation and reports that Martin has just unveiled one of the greenest guitars to date, the D Mahogany ’09, which is made entirely from wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Rock on.