Rosewood article

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blackalex1952
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Rosewood article

Post by blackalex1952 » Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:55 pm

In the Sunday Age this morning-https://www.theage.com.au/world/north-a ... 4z9ak.html
Ross
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J.F. Custom
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Re: Rosewood article

Post by J.F. Custom » Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:00 pm

Honestly, the writing was on the wall for this so many years ago that major companies had the opportunity to transition to other species in time. Instead, they bought up and stockpiled sensing a future shortage, without considering the other implications that might come with it. Then came the jump from Dalbergia to Dalbergia - Brazilian Rosewood; African Blackwood; Honduran Rosewood; Indian Rosewood; Madagascan Rosewood; Cocobolo; Tulipwood etc... only exacerbating the problem, spreading it further across the globe and providing so many opportunities for black market trade of restricted species that the end result was, frankly, foreseeable.

So here we are. Dalbergia's are broadly blacklisted. In my opinion, rightly so given the shortsighted exploitation of them. Sadly, this also means well managed resources are affected. I guess we have to live with that as a consequence of previous greed.

Fortunately, we all know there are many exceptional alternative timbers that we have the opportunity to manage properly and build fine instruments from for years to come. This is not to suggest that the Dalbergia's were not special timbers - they are extraordinary for a whole variety of reasons. But can good guitars or other instruments be made without them? Absolutely. To some extent the larger companies have shot themselves in the foot (without blame here) with marketing machines preaching the virtues of Rosewood as the only timber capable of making fine instruments. The marketing worked, as did the timber. Customers took that on as gospel for a long time - now they will need to embark on customer re-education. I don't envy the tasks ahead for them - finding alternatives that fit factory production regimes that have been built around Rosewood for so long will be a big job in itself.

We as individual builders or smaller production makers have an easier job of it. So move on, branch out and lets hope we (and our timber suppliers) do a better job of it going forward.

My 2c.

Jeremy.

blackalex1952
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Re: Rosewood article

Post by blackalex1952 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:33 pm

I guess we have to live with that as a consequence of previous greed.
I call it trickle down greed! Inevitable under the current mentality where short term politics, the share market and large organisations abdicate individual responsibility for anything except "the game" and not our finite mother earth. I have an interesting book that mentions the historical politics of wood, as it was for centuries the no1 military resource, ie ships. It also talks about the rise and fall of all civilisations being determined by population pressures on resources. Most ancient civilisations turned productive land into desert. But now we are at a point where the whole planet is involved. There will be nowhere to turn, one day, for our descendants-I doubt that we will be able to grow rosewood on Mars!
As David Attenborough said
"Anyone who believes in indefinite growth on a physically finite planet is either mad or an economist" /quote]-Ross
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peter.coombe
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Re: Rosewood article

Post by peter.coombe » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:29 pm

Well Indian Rosewood is still available, and is likely to be available into the foreseeable future. You do need CITES documentation, but it is still legal to export rosewood from India. The Indian suppliers need to get the permits, and if it is to be re-exported then CITES documentation is needed. This is where the log jam is occurring. Indian rosewood is the only Dalbergia species that has been planted in plantations that I am aware of and is the only rosewood that is logged sustainably. Logging of natural forest Indian rosewood is banned and export of forest rosewood is banned. India is the only country that has made the effort to ensure continued supply of rosewood, but it is also grown in Indonesia. They market it as Indonesian rosewood, but it is actually Indian rosewood that has been planted in Indonesia. People who should know have told me there is plenty of Indian rosewood available. It is a great pity that Indian rosewood has been caught up in this, but CITES is concerned about gaming of the rules. If Indian rosewood was exempt, then there would be a huge increase in so called "Indian" rosewood being exported from various countries. The real problem is the Chinese market for rosewood furniture, and the comments from the Chinese furniture representative shows an alarming lack of knowledge of what is actually happening, or else they have their heads firmly stuck in the sand.

As far as use of rosewood in guitars is concerned, it is really a matter of supply and demand. The customers want rosewood, and the guitar companies cater to that demand, and also stimulate that demand in their advertising because rosewood guitars sell. I know from my experience that I can make guitars that sound great from native Australian woods, but the guitars that will sell quickest have rosewood back and sides. It is the sound of rosewood the customers like, and there are very few non Dalbergia woods that will give you the rosewood sound. The few that do can't be logged sustainably in commercial quantities that the guitar companies need.

The CITES listing of all rosewoods has not been smooth sailing. Apart from the log jam of permits, there has been problems with the definition of "commercial", which leads to problems with guitar repairs, problems with travelling orchestras, exhibitions etc. Different countries have different definitions of "commercial" - e.g. USA if one party is running a business then the transaction is commercial, but in Australia "commercial" refers to a significant quantity. There has also been problems with identification, not always easy under a finish.
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Re: Rosewood article

Post by blackalex1952 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:48 pm

I wonder how long plantation rosewood would take to grow and if it would be suitable for Australian conditions?-Ross
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Re: Rosewood article

Post by Mark McLean » Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:18 pm

In the Ord River area of WA they are growing sandlewood as a plantation timber for the perfume industry. It is starting to be quite profitable but the lag time between planting and getting a paying crop must be very long. I imagine it would be even longer for plantation rosewood. I don’t think we could expect to see Aussie Rosewood in our lifetimes.

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Re: Rosewood article

Post by blackalex1952 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:49 pm

It would be nice to begin a movement in Australia regarding the planting of musical instrument timbers and cabinet timbers in order to change the consciousness of the general population to value and respect these timbers for the future. The article I posted caught my eye because it was in the mainstream media and the general public got to read it. The problem with these kind of long term investments is that due to the the
inter-generational time frame for tree growth is a poor investment for individuals to achieve a result in their lives. It is the realm of future planners and politicians and will only occur when our consciousness includes a bit of vision, and the general population gets behind the idea...I heard that the Japanese for example believe that only their forests are sacred so they log everywhere else in the world it seems.-Ross
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Re: Rosewood article

Post by kiwigeo » Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:21 pm

blackalex1952 wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:49 pm
The problem with these kind of long term investments is that due to the inter-generational time frame for tree growth is a poor investment for individuals to achieve a result in their lives.
You pretty well hit the nail on the head there. Investors don't generally think past their own lifespans.
Martin

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Steve.Toscano
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Re: Rosewood article

Post by Steve.Toscano » Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:42 pm

blackalex1952 wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:49 pm
It would be nice to begin a movement in Australia regarding the planting of musical instrument timbers .....
I've started the process. Been growing these Acacia Melanoxylon (Tas Blackwood) in my workshop since January.
I'll update this thread in about 30yrs when she's big enough for a headstock veneer. :gui :gui
2018-04-16 18.35.25.jpg
2018-04-16 18.35.25.jpg (167.6 KiB) Viewed 1348 times

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peter.coombe
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Re: Rosewood article

Post by peter.coombe » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:16 pm

I don’t think we could expect to see Aussie Rosewood in our lifetimes.
A great pity. Unfortunately it would not survive where I live or I would have planted some.

I have also been growing Acacia Melanoxylon, it grows in the forests here but most have been cut down. We planted 50 on our 2 acre block at Kalaru. They are growing, but most have been infested with native beetle wood grubs so I don't think they are going to be of much use unfortunately. On the other hand, Judith planted 4 at Bega and they are thriving with no evidence of infestation. Problem is, there is not really enough room and they are getting big really fast and we might need to take them down sooner than I would like. The nice thing about Blackwood is that even if the tree grows fast, the wood is still good. It does grow really fast in favourable conditions such as the fertile soil and reasonable rainfall we have in Bega. Kalaru has more rainfall, but the soil is mostly clay so the growth rate is slower. About 6 inch diameter trunk in 8 years I would think would be a viable proposition if that growth rate continues, but good fertile land is expensive.
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Re: Rosewood article

Post by blackalex1952 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:47 pm

I've started the process. Been growing these Acacia Melanoxylon (Tas Blackwood) in my workshop since January.
I'll update this thread in about 30yrs when she's big enough for a headstock veneer.
If you are growing it in your workshop it won't get big enough for B&S sets unless your workshop is as big as they say Noah's was! :mrgreen: -R
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Re: Rosewood article

Post by Steve.Toscano » Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:02 pm

blackalex1952 wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:47 pm
If you are growing it in your workshop it won't get big enough for B&S sets unless your workshop is as big as they say Noah's was! :mrgreen: -R
160sq m, 6-7m high ceilings. 8)

But it will be in a pot, im sticking to headstock veneers :lol:

Nah seriously it's just decoration.

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Re: Rosewood article

Post by J.F. Custom » Mon Apr 16, 2018 9:37 pm

peter.coombe wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:29 pm
...As far as use of rosewood in guitars is concerned, it is really a matter of supply and demand. The customers want rosewood, and the guitar companies cater to that demand, and also stimulate that demand in their advertising because rosewood guitars sell. I know from my experience that I can make guitars that sound great from native Australian woods, but the guitars that will sell quickest have rosewood back and sides. It is the sound of rosewood the customers like, and there are very few non Dalbergia woods that will give you the rosewood sound. The few that do can't be logged sustainably in commercial quantities that the guitar companies need...
Yep, agreed and it is a tricky situation now. As I mentioned, I don't envy the task ahead for larger manufacturers, even small manufacturers and individuals. But I still believe it is a difficult problem that nevertheless has to be faced. And if a suitable replacement is not available in the commercial quantities required, then dare I say perhaps we need to reconsider our manufacturing processes and/or scale? Commercial interests drive those scenarios, not musicians requirements. If it was not sustainable from the start........ erm, it could never be sustained? And so we need to change. Adapt.

Supply and demand can't be the answer in and of itself. This is in no way having a go at you Peter, I understand that is a driving factor. If we accept customers want Rosewood, why? I think there are a few reasons: Appearance. No doubt, Rosewood is appealing here. Tone. Absolutely - Rosewood's are fantastic tonewoods. Perception. The historical significance cannot be ignored. Marketing. Simple fact, marketing works. All together, it makes for a very appealing choice. Essentially customers want Rosewood because they have been conditioned to want rosewood, which is good for business, if you happen to be in the business of (or able to) supply rosewood guitars! Conditioning though has been both inadvertent and deliberately cultured. They like the tone because that is what they are used to. They demand rosewood because they want that sound, despite the differences maker to maker, and they have been told rosewood is the only timber capable. But do we continue to feed that at any cost, or change our habits and that customer perception over time? That's our job. Sadly, well managed resources and plantations get caught in this. This is the price we pay.

On the side, I think the plantations in Indonesia grow much more quickly and the resulting timber is not of the calibre of the Indian forest sourced timber. Much like Mahogany in far north Queensland and the Northern Territory. It may be a similar situation if we tried to grow Rosewood here - I'm not sure. There are private plantations of furniture and exotic timbers in Australia. But yes, they are inter-generational and we won't see the fruits of them! Plantations aren't the only answer though. Natural resource can be utilised with good management, it just does not usually align with commercial interests. At least, not in the traditional sense of the last 70 years or so. Great to those of you who have planted some trees - nice for us woodworkers to be able to give something back for the future!

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Re: Rosewood article

Post by peter.coombe » Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:49 pm

I am not so sure appearance is all that important in regard to what actually sells. For some it is important, but I think they are a small minority. My experience is that if I have a particularly pretty mandolin then that is the one the potential customers will always pick up first. However, if another mandolin sounds better to them then the pretty one is quickly forgotten. I have had two identical guitars except for the back and sides for the last 12 months. One is Indian rosewood, the other Black Heart Sassafras, both Red Spruce tops. Lots of people have played both and I always ask which one they prefer. It comes out at around 50/50, which corresponds to my opinion in that they are about equal, just sound different, I can't pick which is "better". The Sassafras always gets the gasps on appearance, but I still have it. The rosewood guitar has been sold, and that sale was closed because of the sound. It IS a great sounding guitar, but so is the Sassafras guitar. I want and NEED to make guitars that sell, and that means unless some miracle happens and people go off the rosewood sound, I have to make at least some rosewood guitars or the bills won't get paid, and there is only so much storage space available. I do love using Australian woods, don't get me wrong, but I am one who did stock up on Indian rosewood before it was listed on CITES Appendix II, and I don't at all feel guilty about that.
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