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> Ethical Guitars, Is the "tone" worth it?
Mith
post Dec 5 2014, 04:22 AM
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As many of you know I'm getting in the business of making very custom guitars. One thing that has come to light to me while researching and building my skills is the sustainability of woods used for instrument making.

While the volume of wood used for instrument making isn't all that high the woods that are chosen for certain application are getting to the point that some of them are very vunrable.

Take ebony to example. It is to the point that its being poached like ivory was. Worse of all alot of ebony that isn't pure black gets dumped (Taylor guitars are working on ways to fix this).

Is having a ebony fingerboard really that important to people? Do you really feel it improves the tone that much? do you feel it improves you playing that much? Even tho instrument use a small portion of this ebony is it morally right we continue to ask for it or even exspect it? I find that alot of high end builders seem to use all these woods that are rare, expensive and some almost endagered. Is it the consumers fault? (supply and demand and all that? or the builders fault for allowing it to be an option?

There are no right answers to these questions and it is something I really only learnt how serious it really is. Alot of these woods could not be gone in our childrens lifetime but in our lifetime.

I for one as someone that is just getting into the business has to decide on how I want to approch this. I personally think a eithically made and sustainable instrument should be high on the priority list for me. I personally love the smoothness and blackness of a great peice of ebony but I'm personnally think I might find a suitable replacement for it.

So the real question is. How important is it to you the consumer? is perfection the only goal and you want it at all costs? or do you want something more sustainable and ethical? The costs of instruments probably wouldn't change. as a matter of fact they would probably go down.

Also if anyone has in information on alternative woods or materials please let me know


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Chris S.
post Dec 5 2014, 04:45 AM
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I've seen a lot of luthiers and hobby builders dye various woods to get the look of ebony.

A buddy of mine dyed his rosewood fingerboard to look like ebony - ended up looking identical to ebony.

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klasaine
post Dec 5 2014, 05:20 AM
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I personally don't like the sound or feel of an ebony fingerboard. Too hard both in the feel and the tone for me. I also don't care what it looks like.
Rosewood and it's variants are 'it' for me. I have two Strats with real Brasilian RW fingerboards and let me tell you, ain't nothing like it - but those days are gone as far new instruments are concerned.
Go sustainable or even composite.



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PosterBoy
post Dec 5 2014, 06:22 AM
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There are luthiers using less traditional but locally sourced wood in their guitar making. The problem they tend to have, even if the wood choice is a good tone wood, is convincing the guitar playing/purchasing public that it is.

I imagine that there whilst the amount of wood in a guitar is small, there is a fair bit of waste that goes along with it.


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Mith
post Dec 5 2014, 06:38 AM
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yeah, guitarists as a whole are pretty narrowminded when it comes to tone wood. Just the amount of high end instruments that seem to be made out of rare and exspensive wood for the sake of saying it is made of it is a bit sad.

Something that I will have to look into quite in depth. I would at least like to be able to offer people better alternatives.

End of the day its the consumer that decides these things with their wallet. I might do my best to make sustainable guitars but if a consumer wants something they will go elsewhere and get it one way or another.


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Cosmin Lupu
post Dec 5 2014, 09:32 AM
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This is a neverending circle, mate smile.gif

From the ethical perspective - you should protect the planet's legacy

From the business perspective - you have to provide what the client asks for

If you can find a solution that can give the client what he wants while protecting the planet's woods, you are THE MAN! As an idealist, that's what I would aim for smile.gif Now, the choice is only up TO YOU wink.gif I would recommend you to have a talk with my luthier friend Florin Giuglea - he is VERY skilled and knows a lot about woods and building guitars in general - you can find him here wink.gif

This post has been edited by Cosmin Lupu: Dec 5 2014, 09:32 AM


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Ben Higgins
post Dec 5 2014, 10:37 AM
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From a player's point of view, I'm not concerned with having to have a certain wood. I'll play something made of plastic if it sounds good smile.gif



QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Dec 5 2014, 09:32 AM) *
From the business perspective - you have to provide what the client asks for

If you can find a solution that can give the client what he wants while protecting the planet's woods, you are THE MAN! As an idealist, that's what I would aim for smile.gif


I think if you're a new business you're in the ideal position to create the business you want and let people be drawn to it, if it gels with their wants and needs.

Whilst you will be able to appeal to more people if you compromise, sometimes it's people's lack of compromise that earns their reputation and success. A difficult balance, for sure, but if it's an issue that means a lot to you I say you should do it your way and let things happen as they may.


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SpaseMoonkey
post Dec 5 2014, 12:18 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Dec 5 2014, 04:37 AM) *
From a player's point of view, I'm not concerned with having to have a certain wood. I'll play something made of plastic if it sounds good smile.gif


I agree to this, as long as it sounds good and the fingers say it's ok then I'm game. To add to Ben I would still like to one day own a Parker which is made of carbon fiber!


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Mith
post Dec 5 2014, 03:19 PM
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QUOTE (SpaseMoonkey @ Dec 5 2014, 07:18 PM) *
I agree to this, as long as it sounds good and the fingers say it's ok then I'm game. To add to Ben I would still like to one day own a Parker which is made of carbon fiber!


Well its not completely carbon fiber. Its actually wood encased in some sort of polymer. google it, its actually really cool but the production of it is no small feat and is way beyond something of a small builder


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Todd Simpson
post Dec 5 2014, 04:09 PM
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Not to be glib, but honestly I'd much prefer MAPLE!!! smile.gif I love maple necks/boards personally. There is plenty of maple around. Even birdseye maple isn't very rare and certainly not like Ivory or something. If you wanted to, as mentioned, you could dye the maple wood dark for looks though it would still sound like maple smile.gif


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PosterBoy
post Dec 8 2014, 07:38 AM
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Hey Mith, with the talk about being Ethical. One thing I would make sure you do, it get the business/Money side right.

If you go over to The Gear Page you'll see many threads from people complaining about builders deadlines being missed not just by weeks or months but even years, bad or no communication and even outright lying. Some refusing to give deposits back on guitars not even started because they've used the deposit money ($1000s) to pay for materials for someone else's guitar.

It's quite scary for someone to want a custom made guitar knowing which builders are safe to use, and for a new builder without a reputation, you'll have to find a way to prove yourself


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Cosmin Lupu
post Dec 8 2014, 12:29 PM
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I think that signing a contract that states various insurance clauses between the builder and the client, could be a good way to proceed. I don't know how you have thought your business plan or if you have thought about one, but it should be an important aspect, since you are taking things seriously and you want to make it in the business. I'd be interested to hear a bit about your business approach wink.gif


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Mertay
post Dec 8 2014, 05:44 PM
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From my experience, yeah ebony makes a difference smile.gif

But let me start by saying I watched the Taylor video the day it was released and completely agree! wish being pure black wouldn't be an issue for some (wouldn't be for me...).

Anyway, why I liked ebony was because years later I realized I like neck heavy guitars. It creates a balance issue (which I guess could be fixed unless the strat shape is a must) ok but a lesser vibrating neck to my ears has the most stable mid.s on the upper neck, but this is so hard to realize cause there are so little examples being sold today. Reason is mahogany body+heavy neck would make the guitar a back breaker.

When people realized Gibson was hollowing their LP's everybody got furious, but today no one has a problem with this as they have the traditional line. Honestly they sound fine to me no matter what tone is being used. Lets also keep in mind musicman JP signature also has a processed body.

Oh anyone noticed Epiphone is painting the necks to look black? many haven't and they look great!

Thats atleast my attempt to make sense of ebody, as for many others it wouldn't surprise me if they like ebony just because its "cool" smile.gif

This post has been edited by Mertay: Dec 8 2014, 05:46 PM


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Mith
post Dec 14 2014, 04:21 AM
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yeah the whole builders missing deadlines and have bad communication is something that got me thinking I can do all this alot better. End of the day that kind of thing is just going to be word of mouth and peoples reviews of what I do.
I guess the best way to do it is not to take any deposit until the materials for that instrument have to be ordered


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