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Wm. Johnston

Future of Ebony

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Good video. It's nice to get the inside story on the ebony industry. One thing I think that he should add to his plan, is cutting and then replanting. It doesn't make any sense to just clear-cut the trees and not plant one in its place. I don't think it would take too much more effort to plant a seed.

Also, I think they should save all the black ebony for violins! :D

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I for one would love to see interesting Ebony fingerboards. ie gray streaks and blond patches. Even if this seems like a PR stunt, it still makes a lot of sense.

Jesse

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I have too little knowledge about ebony harvesting, but I would not trust this man to add to my knowledge base.

One of the first things he says is at best imprecise:

".. but you can almost count the number of spruce trees that are left .."

Now, from my window it would take too long to count the spruce trees I see!

I understand that what he probably means to say is that there is not much spruce left of the quality that he has used for his guitar, but this video is pure promotion.

**

I have no problem paying more for ebony - even if it is streaked - but I'd like to know for sure that the added price is good for nature, not only for any big manufacturers bank account.

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I have too little knowledge about ebony harvesting, but I would not trust this man to add to my knowledge base.

One of the first things he says is at best imprecise:

".. but you can almost count the number of spruce trees that are left .."

Now, from my window it would take too long to count the spruce trees I see!

I understand that what he probably means to say is that there is not much spruce left of the quality that he has used for his guitar, but this video is pure promotion.

**

I have no problem paying more for ebony - even if it is streaked - but I'd like to know for sure that the added price is good for nature, not only for any big manufacturers bank account.

I have no idea what the spruce situation is like in Norway, but I certainly don't think it would be too hard for you to fact-check Bob Taylor's statements regarding spruce in the video:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/06/business/worldbusiness/06iht-sbiz.4.6026426.html

http://www.premierguitar.com/Magazine/Issue/2007/Jul/Going_Green_The_Guitar_Industry_Plans_for_the_Future.aspx

http://www.guitarplayer.com/article/the-troublesome-truth-about-sitka-spruce/6722

and

http://musicwoodthefilm.com/

(The film is not out yet)

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Thanks Flyboy!

If what Taylor says in your premierguitar-link is fact, I think that's really great:

"We’ve spent the last six or seven years developing a project in Honduras where we buy wood directly from a community of Hondurans. We’ve gotten them to the point where they are really going out on foot with their donkeys and chopping up a few trees each year – I mean a few, like a half a dozen – and felling the trees and cutting them into the lumber sizes we need, which are super-easy to cut into because of our neck design. The old way we made necks could have never done it. That stuff is floated down rivers and shipped to us. Their economy has boomed, the amount of trees that are cut have been reduced to nearly nothing, there are no roads built. So we do a lot of projects on our own."

**

I don't know much about the Sitka spruce or Alaska. I guess certification (through FSC) may help a bit, but won't make a revolution. Some 15-20 years ago most forest owners in Norway (including little me) joined PEFC. No revolution neither.

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It's a small step for mankind,a large step for him, very nice of him, I imagine it feels good, he looks like a nice man.

I agree with fidllewallop, a tree is cut down, not a bad idea to plant one.

Humans need to learn what we once knew, live with what's around us without ruining it, who really needs a wooden deck? We spend our lives working for (buying and maintaining) things that we don't really need, and forget that the best thing out there is nature, just let it be.

post-41255-0-82285500-1342777962_thumb.png

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Good video. It's nice to get the inside story on the ebony industry. One thing I think that he should add to his plan, is cutting and then replanting. It doesn't make any sense to just clear-cut the trees and not plant one in its place. I don't think it would take too much more effort to plant a seed.

An established forest is not a farm. You can't simply plant a seed and have another tree grow in its place because the canopy from the surrounding trees no longer allow the right conditions for it to survive. And even if it does establish itself, we're talking about replacing old growth, 200+ year old trees. Ebony takes a minimum of 60 years before it reaches maturity.

I'm also pretty sure Bob Taylor is NOT advocating clear-cutting.

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I very much doubt Bob Taylor walked the eight kilometers into the forest to see where his trees were been cut, he said himself he talked to the harvesters at the roadside.There is obviously no rules with these guys, If they were chopping down twenty threes to get two good ones then I think it's fair to say there's a certain amount of clear-cutting going on. I got the impression he just want's the ebony and felt he was doing his bit by taking the lower quality wood as well, which is actually in his interest. I think he should have more of a responsibility than just that.

I'm also pretty sure Bob Taylor is NOT advocating clear-cutting.

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I very much doubt Bob Taylor walked the eight kilometers into the forest to see where his trees were been cut, he said himself he talked to the harvesters at the roadside.There is obviously no rules with these guys, If they were chopping down twenty threes to get two good ones then I think it's fair to say there's a certain amount of clear-cutting going on. I got the impression he just want's the ebony and felt he was doing his bit by taking the lower quality wood as well, which is actually in his interest. I think he should have more of a responsibility than just that.

I don't understand why people on this forum can't be bothered to do their own fact checking.

Ebony trees do not generally grow in groups but are found in solitary existence. You're going have to explain how this represents "clear-cutting."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clear_cutting

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And even if it does establish itself, we're talking about replacing old growth, 200+ year old trees. Ebony takes a minimum of 60 years before it reaches maturity.

And what's wrong with that? Why bother, it take's to long to grow. . . . . . . . . that mentality is one of the reasons we're in this mess in the first place.

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Will the VSA competitions and other such as VMAAI accept streaked ebony without any penalty? <_<

Will the repair shops start using colored ebony?

What would help is to get notable players and makers to start using this alternative ebony.

Stay Tend.

Mike

PS: Such problems stem from customer expectations.

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When harvesting 200 year old trees, it is fine to cut out half a percent of the trees in the forest each year. That's just good management, and in a managed forest if it's not done then the forest is damaged. Eventually, the forest gets old, and by the time nature takes her course, the falling trees are beyond use for timber.

Cameroon has probably enough forest, if well managed, to give us ebony forever more.

I hope that Mr Taylor can be trusted to manage his share (70%?!)of the market with integrity.

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It is nice what Mr. Taylor is doing (having met him before a few years back I can say that he is basically a nice, honest guy overall). I do however think that the next thing that if taken into consideration will be even better. I will say it right here- I like carbon fiber fingerboards! I like the way my players smile after they get them (they are all pleased w/ the sound way they play) they are reasonably priced. I use the ones Stephen makes at Sound Composites but I know alot of folks don't like the initial install hassle.

That's my 2 cents, as it is

Dan

PS Fixed the link, and if you are curious, call Stephen up he'll be glad to talk to you!

Edited by ThePublic

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I've heard from a very reliable source that the I.U.C.N. is planning on adding ebony to the "red list" of threatened species.

Recall that they recently did this to pernambuco. The response was the founding of the I.PC.I. (international pernambuco cons. initiative) with the goal of

"saving" pernambuco and "saving" bows from confiscation and allow bowmakers to keep their wood stock.

Let's hope that the I.U.C.N. will be as receptive to the conservation and use of ebony in instrument making.

Spruce doesn't worry me, but I can easily imagine the best species of violin maple being targeted soon.

Stock up! ;)

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I've heard the same Arglebargle, and I see your point. But I can't help thinking that 'stocking up' will do to our timber what the whalers did to the whale.

When you have only one cow left, better eat cheese than beef.

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This notion of only BLACK BLACK Ebony get my hackles up. There are other woods not to mention the above stated streaked Ebony that are just as good. In fact there is a wood in Mexico (i think) that is the exact density as Ebony. Is it Black? No. But who cares.

If were going to always use Strad and his time as the premier example then we need to go back to maple FBs and only use a veneer of Ebony. Now that would save the Forest.

Unfortunately we have been brain washed to think only Ebony is the way to go.

OK Rant over :)

Jesse

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FWIW, I have spent alot of time in the guitar biz(sales and restoration). Bob Taylor is well known for being a straight and honest shooter, with intergrity. Approachable and willing to deal with the ethics issue. He comes across that way in the video too. I'm sure there is a marketing aspect to this, but I think the "marketing" is to change the way we judge ebony. Anyone who has daughters can probably relate to what the clothes modeling industry has done to the way our girls think of themselves when the standard goal is something that is so unhealthy. I think the change happens at the top and works its way down. When model are bigger, girls subject themselves to healthier attitudes and lifestyles. I think the same can happen with ebony. When you have the most respected (debatable to some),and best selling acoustic guitar company of today starts making those changes, the change will trickle down. Likewise, if the judges at VSA competitions don't demerit for "non black" ebony, then changes will trickle down too. I frankly applaud his effort to take a chance on inducing change. He seems to have always been a "high road" guy to me. jeff

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I couldn't agree more. I paid $60 at a local exotic wood dealer for blackish ebony billet from which I was to get 6 oversized viola finger boards. Although there are some lighter streaks, the wood can be easily stained with india ink. others might reject the wood because of the colour but there is no reason to do so from my perspective -- it is nicely quartered, dense with small pores.

I refuse to pay 60$ plus for a pure black fingerboard blank, while perfectly good wood rots by the wayside

I do wish taylor included a 'reforestation' plan in his dialog. A part from that -- he is doing the right thing.

Chris

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I for one would love to see interesting Ebony fingerboards. ie gray streaks and blond patches. Even if this seems like a PR stunt, it still makes a lot of sense.

Jesse

On my last order, one of the fingerboards that I received had faint grey streaks in it. It looked rather nice. Unfortunately, the streaking wasn't very deep into the wood so most of the streaking disappeared as I shaped the board down to size. I definitely wouldn't mind it but Mike is right about customer expectations. Hopefully that will change.

James

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I've heard from a very reliable source that the I.U.C.N. is planning on adding ebony to the "red list" of threatened species....

It is impossible for ebony to be placed on any threatened or endangered species list because ebony is not a species. "Ebony" is a general term that refers any black wood. A number of different tree species produce black wood. See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebony

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This link is to a Wikipedia page on illegal logging in Madagascar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegal_logging_in_Madagascar. Most "ebony" comes from trees of the genus Diospyrus (Persimmon). The genus Diospyrus is part of the taxonomic family Ebenaceae which got its name from a particular ebony tree but Brad Dorsey is right, in common usage "ebony" does not refer to any one particular species but mostly to any hard black wood from the genus Diospyrus. However, the Lacey Act is being enforced because of international pressure to stop the illegal logging in Madagascar. And it isn't just ebony that is being over-harvested in Madagascar, Rosewood is also focus of the Lacey Act enforcement.

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