4/24/2014

BC Wood Makes Beautiful Music

This Yamaha guitar has an old growth sitka spruce solid wood soundboard.
B.C. wood is in 80% of the world’s solid wood guitar soundboards. 


British Columbia's old growth forests are the number one go-to wood lot of choice for local and international guitar makers alike.

"Abbotsford-based David Lapeyrouse of Timbre Tonewood, who supplies wood to guitar makers, estimates there are 10,000 guitar builders in North America, 1,000 in Canada and a disproportionate 500 or more in B.C. At one point, back in 1999, Lapeyrouse had a quarter of the global market in solid wood soundboards, the vital resonating top face of a guitar. 
Why is B.C. such a hot spot for luthiers and instrument-grade wood? Three reasons -
  1. Jean Larrivée of Larrivée guitars,
  2. artisan Michael Dunn, and
  3. B.C.’s old growth forests.
 The growing number of aging boomers doesn’t hurt either. 

Classical guitar with birdseye maple side and back, and cedar soundboard.

B.C. wood is in 80 per cent of the world’s solid wood soundboards, Lapeyrouse said. The remaining guitars are plywood topped — and most of those are surfaced with B.C. wood. 
B.C. is world-renowned for its old growth Engelmann and Sitka spruce and red cedar “tone wood.” Luthiers (artisans who make stringed instruments) covet the straight, fine grain found in old forests where trees compete for light and grow slowly. The wood must be carefully lined up along two dimensions for cutting. 
“The tonal quality is based on whether it’s cut right so it captures the wood’s natural strength,” Lapeyrouse said. Cut it wrong and you get a thud instead of a musical ting when you tap the wood. 
Of nine million guitars built globally each year, 2.5 million have solid wood tops, with two million come from B.C. at about $15 million wholesale, Lapeyrouse said. Most of the wood is shipped to Taiwan, Korea and China."

This department store special is made of plywood. While it has its
merits, superb tonal quality is not one of them.

It is important to harvest valuable old growth sustainably so we can continue to have access to high grade instrument-quality wood.

Decisions we make now will affect musicians and instrument makers for centuries to come.

Read more about BC guitars and guitar makers here

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