Rosewood and CITES

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demonx
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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by demonx » Thu Nov 24, 2016 6:37 am

Craig Bumgarner wrote:
I no longer use ebony or rosewood for fingerboards and bridges, instead, have been using Rocklite Ebano. It is a "manufactured wood product" and while they do not divulge the process, they claim it is sustainable and "green".
I just jumped onto their site to have a look and it's pretty pricey for a composite, as in, it's twice the price of buying real Ebony! That's not a great selling point to get people to convert.

I am still interested, as I'm sure the price "should" come down if it became a bigger business. I'd be curious to know if anyone else has used this or similar products and has a review of sorts?

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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by peter.coombe » Sat Nov 26, 2016 9:48 am

Ha, I did the same thing. Looks like a great product, but I baulked at the price.
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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by Ormsby Guitars » Sat Nov 26, 2016 12:30 pm

$23 for Rocklite ebano fretboards.

Going into $3000-4000 instruments.

And you guys are complaining about the price?!?


Furthermore, spoke with the department handling this new rosewood deal. $70 or so for each shipment or $170ish for a six month 'pass'. Storm in a teacup it seems.

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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by nkforster » Sat Nov 26, 2016 7:15 pm

Ormsby Guitars wrote:$23 for Rocklite ebano fretboards.

Going into $3000-4000 instruments.

And you guys are complaining about the price?!?


Furthermore, spoke with the department handling this new rosewood deal. $70 or so for each shipment or $170ish for a six month 'pass'. Storm in a teacup it seems.

I've bought rocklite and I think it's a good product. But yes, it is overpriced for what it is - engineered wood. There are others available out there. The big names in the business are Alpiwood and Tabu. The Chinese are in on the action too. The feller who sells Rocklite may well be getting it made by Alpiwood, Tabu or the Chinese. Ive seen a few of these products and they are all variations on the same theme - softwood rotary cut veneer, dyed, stacked and glued with one resin or another then recut into "quarter sawn" boards. It's very popular in the furniture and shop fitting world in veneer form. I've some stuff I bought in Germany which is almost identical to Rocklite apart from it's not quite as black. And half the price. You can buy it in 2.5m lenghts, 50mm thick and 280mm wide. You could cut it into sets if you liked. Comes as rosewood, ebony, wenge, zebrano...

Price? Well, when I'm buying stuff, price is always an issue. The margins in building are getting tighter all the time just as the list of restricted products grows. Whilst the high end of the high end seems to keep getting more expensive for the majority of "bread and butter" makers prices are not keeping up. If you look at a big dealer in the US like Dream Guitars, you'll see the average price of sold instruments hasn't gone up in 10 years. It's remained the same. US$5000. Volume of sales has gone up for the market, but so has supply. Its becoming clear that supply is exceeding demand so maintaining $5000 will become harder in the years to come.

It's rare to hear the line "What does the material cost matter" from a maker. Wood dealers love to use the line "what's another $50 (or insert whatever it is) when you're selling a guitar for $5000? What it is, is another $50 that won't be going in my bank account multiplied by 20 guitars a year, multiplied by similar amounts to other parts, materials and components. If you're not careful, it adds up to doing the same amount of work for a lot less money every year.

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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by demonx » Sun Nov 27, 2016 7:08 am

nkforster wrote:
Multiplied by 20 guitars a year, multiplied by similar amounts to other parts, materials and components. If you're not careful, it adds up to doing the same amount of work for a lot less money every year.
I'll agree to your concept, but you numbers are a bit off, if a person is only doing 20 guitars a year then they're not a full time builder and there wage is coming from somewhere else, so it's still not a big concern for them to be cutting costs. It's when you're full time and doing 50+ a year that the multiples start to make a big difference.

One small example to demonstrate your point. Logos. I used to buy them, had them cut and freighted. Worked out to be between $3-7 each logo depending if it was plain or foil or whatever. So let's say that's an average of $5ea. My build count is in the triple figures and if you multiply that by $5, all of a sudden it starts looking like big money, so I invested in the machine to make my own. It'll pay for itself in two years, then every logo after that is profit.

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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by nkforster » Sun Nov 27, 2016 8:05 am

demonx wrote:
nkforster wrote:
Multiplied by 20 guitars a year, multiplied by similar amounts to other parts, materials and components. If you're not careful, it adds up to doing the same amount of work for a lot less money every year.
I'll agree to your concept, but you numbers are a bit off, if a person is only doing 20 guitars a year then they're not a full time builder and there wage is coming from somewhere else, so it's still not a big concern for them to be cutting costs. It's when you're full time and doing 50+ a year that the multiples start to make a big difference.
I am a full time builder and I do make 20 acoustic guitars a year. And no, the wage is not coming from somewhere else and it never has. Not in 26 out of the last 28 years anyway. There are solo acts who make more - some of the fellers in the US are tooled up to make 50 acoustic guitars a year, but there are many who make less. If you ask around the average for a solo maker without help is 12-17 acoustic guitars a year. Perhaps you're getting confused with electric guitar makers?

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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by demonx » Sun Nov 27, 2016 9:20 am

nkforster wrote: Perhaps you're getting confused with electric guitar makers?
No confusion. Electric/acoustic, doesn't matter. It's the dollars and wage that is the end factor. The product could be bookshelves if all the other variables are the same. If you're primarily a builder and only making 20 guitars a year and you are making a full time wage from that, then your asking price needs to be five figures. Otherwise it just doesn't add up. Not here in Australia with our pricey insurance rates and high taxes.

It's an interesting topic how people describe themselves. I was discussing the other day with a local builder who calls himself a part time luthier, however he only builds about three guitars a year and then has the odd repair come in which he'll take his time on. That to me is not part time. Part time would imply he's working around 15/20hrs minimum a week. Full time 38+hrs minimum a week.

If you were building full time, you'd be doing a lot more that 20 guitars a year, unless the bulk of your time is spent in repair work. Which for many is the cash cow that keeps them afloat.

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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by Ormsby Guitars » Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:04 am

20x $5000 = $100,000

20x materials at $500 = $10,000

Running costs of $10,000

$80,000 profit.

From there, taxes take out $15k

Leaves you with $65k. The average Aussie wage is $73k before tax. That includes the 4% of the population who earn over $300,000 a year in Oz. The medium wage is less than the average wage.

If you don't have the average Aussie mortgage payments of $21k pa you're well ahead. Most luthiers who are full time are 40yo+ and you could assume either don't have a mortgage or have one from decades prior when housing was a fraction of current pricing.

If your output is 20pa and you can't make a full time living, your prices aren't high enough or you over spend on capital. Or both.

Regardless, as to the comments about 'wood is going up'... why aren't you charging more? At $5000 a guitar, $50 in extra costs is nothing. You'd still sell that $5000 guitar for $5200 too...

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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by Steve.Toscano » Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:17 am

ummmm. how can anyone judge whether someone else is making a full time living making 20 guitars / yr or not?? I didn't see anywhere where Nick said he was selling his instruments for $5k.
There's plenty of builders selling instruments at around the $10k figure, some more.
But as Perry said, if your costs have increased by $50 / instrument, just ad an extra $100 (or more) on the finished product. Aint rocket science. Most buyers wont notice that difference.

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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by routout » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:20 am

This got a long way from the Rose wood :lol: Which will run low as the over-panic sets in :D .I will always make for me and then if someone wants one they pay I easy.
John ,of way too many things to do.

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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by peter.coombe » Mon Nov 28, 2016 7:50 pm

Furthermore, spoke with the department handling this new rosewood deal. $70 or so for each shipment or $170ish for a six month 'pass'. Storm in a teacup it seems.
A storm in a teacup if you import 50 or 100 Rosewood sets at a time, but 1 or 2 sets and it becomes a significant part of the cost, plus the added paperwork. The most I have imported at a time has been 5 sets, but then I am mostly a mandolin maker. Probably not a big issue for the bigger suppliers, they would just jack up the price a bit to cover the cost and the time. As for the cost of the composites, why would I buy it if I can get quality Ebony at half the price.
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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by Ormsby Guitars » Mon Nov 28, 2016 9:09 pm

peter.coombe wrote:
Furthermore, spoke with the department handling this new rosewood deal. $70 or so for each shipment or $170ish for a six month 'pass'. Storm in a teacup it seems.
A storm in a teacup if you import 50 or 100 Rosewood sets at a time, but 1 or 2 sets and it becomes a significant part of the cost, plus the added paperwork. The most I have imported at a time has been 5 sets, but then I am mostly a mandolin maker. Probably not a big issue for the bigger suppliers, they would just jack up the price a bit to cover the cost and the time. As for the cost of the composites, why would I buy it if I can get quality Ebony at half the price.
Here's a tip. Speak to your dhl rep and get your shipping to under $135, still charge the $640 you quote (which obviously isn't an issue), and pocket the rest towards the $70 cites fees every now and again. If $70 is breaking the bank, that's the least you should be concerned about.

Or charge $70 more on top of your $4000 mandolins. Seriously. This isn't an issue.

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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by peter.coombe » Mon Nov 28, 2016 9:34 pm

Just come back from a walk thinking about this and have changed my mind. This is a big deal for the small guy (me) it is not a storm in a teacup. What are the chances of being able to get Indian Rosewood sets from RC Tonewoods (one of the preferred suppliers) after 1st Jan 2017 - ZERO. What are the chances of being able to get Indian Rosewood sets from LMI or Randy Allen or Allied after 1st January - after they wake up to the CITES listing, remote. What are the chances of me being able to get Indian Rosewood bindings from Stew Mac after 1st January - after they wake up to the CITES listing, remote. Mahogany is also on CITES Appendix II. Can you get Honduras Mahogany in the USA, yes. Can you get it here? No, not unless you get real lucky and come across an old stash (e.g. retiring Luthier). What are the chances of getting Indian Rosewood from Australian suppliers after they run out of stock. I dunno, but if Mahogany is a guide then it could be remote. The US suppliers won't ship international, period. They won't do it because it is uneconomic for them to pay the fees and spend time on the paperwork for small quantities. CITES paperwork and fees applies to the importer as well as the exporter, but the buyer (importer) is the one who pays for it at both ends so $70 is unrealistic. If Australian suppliers do continue to offer Rosewood then you can be sure it will cost more, may even double. That is ok, just charge the customer the extra, but that assumes you can still get it. You can still import it direct from India, but that is risky. Do you know any reputable Indian suppliers who won't rip you off and will supply genuine CITES documentation? I sure don't. If it was just $70 then it is not a big deal, but it is not that simple.

Getting back to Ebony fingerboards. Will my customers pay extra for a composite fingerboard. Hell no. They would expect to pay more for an Ebony fingerboard, and maybe even expect a discount for a composite fingerboard. After all, Martin use a composite fingerboard on their cheaper guitars, and isn't Ebony better? (just thinking like a customer).
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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by Craig Bumgarner » Tue Nov 29, 2016 12:43 am

peter.coombe wrote:isn't Ebony better?
Agree that ebony is currently cheaper than Ebano but that ebony is better is debatable. Ebano is more uniform in grain and color, lighter and more stable through humidity changes.

That it is sustainable is worth something. Coal is cheaper than solar arrays but the product price is not the whole picture.

Besides the cost, Ebano negatives include 1) it not as hard as ebony, a little less than EIR maybe, harder than maple or walnut. EIR has been adequately hard for my fingerboards, so to me it is not a concern. 2) it may incur some adverse costumer reaction though as I said earlier, that has not been my experience. Consider the quality and availability of ebony seems to be declining. The cost of ebony will eventually go up unless sustainable harvesting practices are enforced, but what I've read suggests that enforcement, if any, is pathetic.

Maybe composite substitutes are not the answer for everyone, but exotic wood availability will likely continue to decline and some kind of solution is going to needed whether we like it or not.
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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by peter.coombe » Tue Nov 29, 2016 7:59 am

I don't disagree with anything you said. I think it is a matter of educating the customers so composite fingerboards become more acceptable.
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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by curly » Tue Nov 29, 2016 9:09 pm

What's the opinion of you guys regarding Gidgee as fingerboard material ?
It's superior in wear resistance and stability to conventional choices though it is damned hard to work and fret kerfs need to be widened or it just bends the board .
I've made a good many and always sold a trickle of them .
The big guys won't touch them because anything that adds extra labour is death to a factory bottom line . It's not really a unit cost issue , I can beat Ebony for price on bulk orders . I'm about $20 a fingerboard retail and $10 per hundred for repeat custom , Rosewood is about $7 landed wholesale and ebony $12 or so , depending on exchange rates .
I would have thought that the argument for stability and longevity would have sold a bunch more Gidgee than it ever has .
Australia has so many good alternatives , both in the arid zone Acacias and the higher density Eucalypts , which are often really dark though not black .
The difference here , particularly in a timber like Gidgee , is sustainability . They are a common tree with a minimal history of extraction . Imagine trying to mill Gidgee pre carbide blades ! One station alone I cut on is 80 00 hectares with about half under Gidgee , there's plenty more out there . It's also reasonably quick to grow . One band of country ring barked in the 1930's have many trees that survived to grow 200+ mm ( 400mm diameter increase ) over the damage . I've seen a 300 diameter Gidgee grown through the windscreen of the shell of a FJ Holden .
Anyways . What do you guys think of Gidgee . Too damn hard ? Does the added density in the neck effect tone ?
Thanks
Pete

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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by Steve.Toscano » Tue Nov 29, 2016 11:32 pm

Im not so familiar with gidgee, but while we are talking about local fretboard alternatives. What about Mulga.?
While not local, lately ive been useing brazilian bloodwood for fretboards, unsure of its sustainability, but its damn hard, has a great tap tone, not so bad to work with, looks great, and very affordable.

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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by simonm » Wed Nov 30, 2016 6:07 am

peter.coombe wrote:... The US suppliers won't ship international, period. They won't do it because it is uneconomic for them to pay the fees and spend time on the paperwork for small quantities. ....
The Spanish sellers seem to be set up for this. Madinter in Madrid has a cites documentation price on its website for any woods such a Spanish Cedar that are currently listed. Currently they list it as 65 Euros per species per shipment. I am sure they will update it for IR indue course. I seem to recall it was about half that a couple of years ago but then again I never had to pay it so I might be wrong. However, whether it makes any sense to buy IR from Spain to get it shipped right back around the world is another question.

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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by Trevor Gore » Wed Nov 30, 2016 8:59 am

curly wrote: What do you guys think of Gidgee . Too damn hard ? Does the added density in the neck effect tone ?
I've used gidgee, brushbox and bloodwood (brosimum rubescens) for fretboards. All seem to work fine when straight grained. I've not had to alter kerf widths for fretting. Their density ranges overlap the range of ebony, so no real difference there. I'd say that on average all are lower damping than African or Indian ebony, though I haven't made detailed measurements. Regarding tone, the quality of the fret job is more likely to give more tonal variation than the different woods deliver.

There's definitely a market demand for black, or close to. What would you suggest, Pete?

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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by demonx » Wed Nov 30, 2016 2:51 pm

Trevor Gore wrote:
curly wrote: What do you guys think of Gidgee . Too damn hard ? Does the added density in the neck effect tone ?
I've used gidgee ... I've not had to alter kerf widths for fretting.
Same here, the handful of times I've used it as a fingerboard I've not had to alter my methods at all. I have noticed it a real B to re saw though, but if you buy blanks off Pete he's already done the swearing for you!

The only problem I have with Gidgee is my customers don't ask for it and when I suggest it to them they're not interested and go to the things they have hard of.

I do plan to push Gidgee more in upcoming builds, I've got a handful here to use up and if it starts becoming more popular then I'll be throwing some dollars Petes way.

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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by peter.coombe » Wed Nov 30, 2016 7:15 pm

I have used Gidgee, and have been using an Australian species for the fingerboard on all my "Goldfinch" mandolins. These mandolins have King Billy Pine tops and Blackwood back and sides, so almost entirely Aussie natives. Gidgee is a bit harder to get the frets in, and I have had a ringed Gidgee tenor guitar fingerboard break in two after I fretted it, but apart from that I think it is a good Ebony substitute. Probably best to avoid the high figured stuff though. I have used Lancewood and NSW Ironwood for fingerboards as well. I like Lancewood since it seems to behave very similar to Ebony, but have just run out of Lancewood blanks. I still have the other half of the Lancewood log, but am not looking foreward to sawing it into fingerboard blanks. Last time there was lots of waste and dust (rot down the centre of the log) and a very blunt bandsaw blade. Gidgee does make great tuning knobs.
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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by peter.coombe » Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:09 am

After all that deviation from the topic, are there any more suggestions for a local rosewood replacement? So far only Queensland Walnut has been mentioned, but that is problematic. Something hard, heavy and low internal damping, and reasonably easy to bend should fit the bill. Dark colour would be nice also. There must be something out there. Size of the tree might be a problem though. Or maybe someone should plant a rosewood plantation in Queensland.
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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by blackalex1952 » Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:24 am

are there any more suggestions for a local rosewood replacement?
It is unfortunately rare I believe, but is satin box a good tonal replacement for rosewood b&s? I hear that it moves a little, can anyone fill me in here please?
Also, would gidgee respond to the steel wool and vinegar ebonising process?-Ross
"Everything I say on the topic is based solely upon inexperience and assumption!"

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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by blackalex1952 » Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:36 am

"Everything I say on the topic is based solely upon inexperience and assumption!"

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Re: Rosewood and CITES

Post by DarwinStrings » Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:36 am

peter.coombe wrote: Size of the tree might be a problem though. Or maybe someone should plant a rosewood plantation in Queensland.
Not that it is much of a indication of what might happen in QLD but the D.Latifolia in the Darwin Bot. Gdns. is a slow grower, maybe slower than in it's home and also in the examples I have seen the colour is not there.
Life is good when you are amongst the wood.
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