Where did we get the idea that all the decent wood is gone?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by COYS, Feb 10, 2020.

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  1. COYS

    COYS Supporting Member

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    The title says it all I suppose - where did we get the idea that there is no more decent wood available for guitar making?

    Does it have any basis or source in fact at all? Has anyone in a position to know ever said this? Or is this just another myth borne out of message boards and such?
     
  2. Jamie_Mitchell

    Jamie_Mitchell Member

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    i think that, in a general sense, given the lack of understanding or care about the sustainability of materials/wood/animals, etc., there is less of the good stuff available just from a logical reasoning standpoint.
    you'd have to discover a forest of old growth wood that was untouched. or wait til new trees being planted reach that age. assuming you think that the old stuff is more desirable in the first place.

    there are ethical issues tied up in all this as well. have you played tortoise shell picks at all? they sound better than pretty much anything else. but they're very unethical. cause we used those animals way, way too much in the past.

    as an aside (and a possible counter argument to the above) are you aware of the Simon vs Ehrlich wager?
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
  3. fierce_carrot

    fierce_carrot Member

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    It comes from those making guitars that cost way too much...just another sales gimmick. There are tens of millions of square miles all over the world with trees that would make incredible guitars....
     
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  4. paulbearer

    paulbearer Member

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    Or... recycle.


    Oh, and then there's the guys who were previously naysayers of fast growth like Paulownia. "It's an invasive from China", "it's too soft", "screws pull right out", "trash wood", "it's a weed", "no tone!".
    Some of them are boutique builders here on TGP who now promote the advantages of Paulownia, with an upcharge of course...
    While GFS sells pallets full of finished bodies for $39 made of it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
  5. jvin248

    jvin248 Member

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    .

    How do you know that wood is important?

    Sure, it looks pretty.
    It holds the other parts in place.
    But is it the source of Toanze?

    Swap pickups,
    ... swap pots & caps,
    ... swap amps,
    ... kick some pedals.

    You can choose any wood you want and use those controls to adjust the sound.

    The Amazon is burning and so are the other rain forests.

    Build responsibly.

    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
  6. Jamie_Mitchell

    Jamie_Mitchell Member

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    is that reclaimed wood?
    i should have included that in my above post - it applies (legally) to ivory and TS, i believe.

    i should clarify that when i said "good stuff", i'm assuming that the top level guys of years past picked the wood they did (say Brazilian Rosewood) for a reason, and why there might be less of it available for use now.
    whether or not that's the best wood available for that purpose, i would leave that for people who actually know what they're talking about. my experience is limited to some pre-war Martins - and my positive experiences w/ torrefied wood leads me to believe there may be something to old-growth wood.

    happy to be proved wrong on any of the above tho!
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
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  7. Oldschool59

    Oldschool59 Member

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    It's the first time I hear that the decent lumber supply is gone. Who said it? Is it even a thing? Because it is evidently, patently false.
     
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  8. Scary Uncle G.

    Scary Uncle G. Member

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    For acoustic instruments, the effects of climate change will likely make close grained, slow growing timber more scarce. Combined with population growth and economic development in Asia and Africa driving demand for wood products and you can expect high quality wood for musical instruments to become more scarce.
     
  9. paulbearer

    paulbearer Member

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    Yes, reclaimed from dumpsters...
    And no, didn't know Simon vs Ehrlich wager... thanks for the heads up:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon–Ehrlich_wager
     
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  10. Jamie_Mitchell

    Jamie_Mitchell Member

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    of course! not sure how i stumbled upon that, but it's been one of my favorite reference points/thought experiments for years. really counterintuitive. that being said, i'm not all at sure that it applies to lumber.
     
  11. xmd5a

    xmd5a Member

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    Where did we get the idea that old growth, or higher density wood, is better? With all the talk about weight relief and how lighter guitars might even sound better, why not embrace the younger, less dense fast growing wood? Oh, that's right, because we're old, ourselves.
     
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  12. Promit

    Promit Member

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    Whelp I guess it's time to go buy an Aristides
     
  13. Benz2112

    Benz2112 Supporting Member

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    Well you need to define "gone" and "decent wood". There is a good case to be made that there is significantly less (not gone) old growth hardwoods (pretty decent). This isn't a binary question. There will definitely be good instrument grade wood available for a time to come, but really old growth stuff is become more and more scarce. There have been many really great instruments made with wood that is hard to source anymore, but it certainly does not mean that you therefore cannot build a good guitar anymore.
     
  14. COYS

    COYS Supporting Member

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    One could reason that "close grained, slow growing timber" might become more scarce in the future than it is now due to any variety of factors, but becoming more scarce than it is today is a different thing from it becoming scarce.
     
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  15. COYS

    COYS Supporting Member

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    The impetus for the thread was just a long history of reading posts, here and other places online, that claim the "good wood" was used up in the olden days and they don't make 'em like that anymore.

    While deforestation is certainly an issue in many places, is the best wood actually gone? And if it's not all gone, is it actually hard or cost prohibitive for guitar makers to obtain "good wood"?

    It seems to me that if such wood existed "they" would move heaven and earth to get it and upcharge for it, would they not?
     
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  16. customguitars87

    customguitars87 Member

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    Well, wood is undoubtedly important in terms of tone. I have the same pair of pickups, pots, caps, etc. in two guitars with different body & neck woods and they sound pretty drastically different from one another. Still, nothing wrong with building responsibly.

    I have a few guitars built out of "rare" woods (my solid flame koa strat comes to mind) and besides being stunning they do sound great too, but I buy pretty much everything used so I look at that as my way of recycling :).
     
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  17. Surgeon

    Surgeon Member

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    It comes from the people who want you to believe that all that is old is better, that trees grew differently back in the days and the workmen of yesteryears knew what they were doing better than what factories are doing now after decades of improvement to both techniques and machinery… oh yeah, they also want more for their old guitars when you want to buy it.
     
  18. kludge

    kludge The droid you're looking for Silver Supporting Member

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    I think part of the reasoning for old-growth wood is that it is more complex, due to how the fibers interconnect (that's also why different kinds of wood have different sounds). It's more apparent in acoustic guitars than electric, but I think it's quite audible everywhere.

    I have an acoustic guitar made in the mid-80s that just sounds massive, and every note is a bottomless well of fine detail. Is that just the bracing? Can that be duplicated? I don't think so. When I hold it so the light catches the soundboard, it practically glows from all the tiny lignin threads between the grains. It's visibly different from most spruce tops I've seen, but I've seen a similar glow in many really great acoustics I've played. That's the magical wood, something really special.
     
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  19. Bolt VanderHuge

    Bolt VanderHuge Member

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    It comes from those who need Viagra (which is likely much of TGP).

    :rimshot
     
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  20. Tony Done

    Tony Done Member

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    I think that this is a case of tunnel vision. There are very likely a lot of good acoustic timbers out there that haven't been discovered or exploited yet. An example is bunya, which IMO isn't very pretty but makes excellent acoustic tops, and it s plantation grown.
     
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