According to the conservation group Fauna & Flora International, seventy of the two hundred species of trees used to make musical instruments are threatened with extinction; species such as Brazilian and Honduran rosewood and mahogany, which are all used in guitars. One guitar alone could contain rosewood, cedar, and maple, with each wood sourced from different diminishing tropical rainforests in South America, Asia, and Africa . The good news is more and more guitar manufacturers are beginning to search for alternative wood types, as the tropical hardwoods prized for making instruments are disappearing due to demand and deforestation.
SoundWood, a Greenpeace initiative and an international conservation program of Fauna and Flora International, advocates responsible wood management and helps the music industry source “good wood” that's responsibly harvested and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Instead of treasured tropical woods, more guitar companies are now using non-endangered granadillo, Chechen, red cedar, chakte, kok, and soma wood.
If you're an eco-minded musician looking to buy your next guitar, the following tips and information might help you make a greener, more educated purchase.
ECO-FRIENDLY GUITAR ADVICE
- The first and best thing you can do is research your next potential guitar and the wood used in its production before supporting its line through purchase.
- Try finding instruments on the market made from Rainforest Alliance-certified wood, from sustainably managed forests certified by the FSC, or even from reclaimed wood.
- Renting or buying used guitars are the most environmentally responsible and economical choices.
- Gibson Guitar partnered with the Rainforest Alliance more than ten years ago, introducing the SmartWood Les Paul in 1996 - - containing maple, chechen, and mahogany wood fully certified by the Rain Forest Alliance - - to symbolize the company's commitment to responsible forest management. Since then, Gibson has moved closer and closer to its goal of 100 percent certified wood, with the majority of Gibson products now having certified content.
- Modulus Guitars maintains close cooperation with SoundWood, Scientific Certification Systems, and Eco Timber, pioneering the use of non-traditional woods for electric guitars and basses. Unlike other guitar companies, Modulus is on the cutting edge of new materials that improve instrument performance while respecting the environment. The company's goal is for 100 percent of the wood in its instruments to be earthy-friendly and properly harvested.
- Martin Guitar instituted its own program, “The Sustainable Wood Series,” which utilizes certified cherry, basswood, mahogany, machiche, certified paduk, certified red birch, and several other certified species in instrument crafting. Something unique about Martin, unlike other guitar brands, is that they use reclaimed spruce destined to become wood pulp. When looking through Martin's guitar catalogue, musicians can view the company's selection of guitars made with sustainable woods as well as those made with FSC-certified wood.