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Friday essay: the guitar industry¿s hidden environmental problem ¿ and the people trying to fix it




Type Of Work


  • Media article

Abstract


  • Musicians are often concerned about environmental problems, but entangled in them through the materials used in their instruments. The guitar industry, which uses rare woods from old-growth trees, has been a canary in the coal mine — struggling with scandals over illegal logging, resource scarcity and new environmental regulations related to trade in endangered species of trees. We spent six years on the road tracing guitar-making across five continents, looking at the timber used — known in the industry as tonewoods for their acoustic qualities — and the industry’s environmental dilemmas. Our goal was to start with the finished guitar and trace it to its origin places, people and plants. We first visited guitar factories in Australia, the United States, Japan and China. There we observed materials and manufacturing techniques. From factories, we visited the sawmills that supply them. And then we journeyed further, to forests, witnessing the trees from which guitars are made.

Publication Date


  • 2021

Web Of Science Accession Number


Book Title


  • The Conversation

Type Of Work


  • Media article

Abstract


  • Musicians are often concerned about environmental problems, but entangled in them through the materials used in their instruments. The guitar industry, which uses rare woods from old-growth trees, has been a canary in the coal mine — struggling with scandals over illegal logging, resource scarcity and new environmental regulations related to trade in endangered species of trees. We spent six years on the road tracing guitar-making across five continents, looking at the timber used — known in the industry as tonewoods for their acoustic qualities — and the industry’s environmental dilemmas. Our goal was to start with the finished guitar and trace it to its origin places, people and plants. We first visited guitar factories in Australia, the United States, Japan and China. There we observed materials and manufacturing techniques. From factories, we visited the sawmills that supply them. And then we journeyed further, to forests, witnessing the trees from which guitars are made.

Publication Date


  • 2021

Web Of Science Accession Number


Book Title


  • The Conversation