Green issues are becoming ever more high profile as the fight to preserves the Earth’s resources intensifies. More and more materials are being recycled and the creation of new products from recycled materials and up-cycling just about everything is certainly the way forward. Sadly this fact seems to have largely escaped the music industry. Many instruments, including guitars, are fashioned from wood and whilst guitars account for a relatively small percentage of timber usage they could have a valuable role to play in promoting recycling and the use of sustainable woods.
Music Should Lead the Way
Guitars are super cool and played by iconic people. Fans look up to their icons and will usually follow their lead meaning that any moves towards eco-friendly instruments could really boost environmental awareness and make green issues trendy. Such a situation will require some changes of attitude as guitar players treasure their wooden instruments for their tone. The trouble is that the woods traditionally used to make guitars are often threatened species or trees which are solitary growers. The latter are hard to reach in the forests causing large areas of growth to be cleared in order to reach them.
The Right Tone
Guitars need to look great and sound even better otherwise musicians don’t want to play them so makers pursue exotic woods at the expense of the planet. Times are changing, however, and now there are signs that the industry is waking up to the problem and acting accordingly. The top makers of guitars are backing the use of sustainable woods and are working with the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) to support the use of woods from managed forests. There is increasing evidence that managed forests lead to significantly reduced deforestation.
In addition to the big makers becoming more responsible some enterprising individuals are building guitars using sustainable woods in conjunction with recycled products to produce instruments which can truly claim to be forward thinking and eco-friendly. In England former theatrical prop and model maker Simon Lee has launched a range of guitars called Cyclotron. The electric instruments have bodies made from sustainable, locally sourced wood with outer shells fashioned from a variety of recycled materials including cups from vending machines, yoghurt pots, crushed cd’s and plastic bottles. The guitars are made to order and have some truly original and eye catching finishes.
Meanwhile in Argentina Ezequiel Galasso and Gianfranco de Gennaro are making guitars from broken skateboards. Each instrument is created from two board decks producing a rather funky, robust and deliberately distressed looking guitar.
It remains to be seen whether the new innovations in guitar making are going to lead music into a new era of environmental awareness. If there are to be giant strides forward the new instruments must produce the sound that musicians are looking to partner the funky looks otherwise players will still default to the hardwood guitars they know and love. Their careers can depend on the tone of their music and so it is difficult to blame them but moves towards new materials could make a huge difference to the world’s attitudes to green issues.
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Sally Stacey is a keen writer and business owner who divides her time between writing and running her shop.