A Greener Festival Blog #1

by Ben Challis | 15 May 2009

How green is my guitar dude?

Musical instruments don’t get mentioned often in connection with sustainability but as this interesting article by Lucy Siegle in the Observer magazine points out, every eco warrior needs a guitar, but asks the question - where does the wood come from?

An estimated 20-40% of global wood production comes from illegal timber sources and 20% of it finds a home in Europe. Meanwhile, deforestation accounts for nearly one fifth of global greenhouse-gas emissions.

Lucy goes on to say that musical instruments suffer from two sustainability hurdles.

First, many instruments - notably guitars - are made up of timber species from different types of forests, mixing the temperate with the boreal, which makes traceability more complex, while the “preferred” woods used are largely under threat thanks to overharvesting. The second bum note is sounded by musicians themselves.

Tonal quality is inextricably linked in musicians’ heads with old-growth wood. The threatened rainforest tree African blackwood (grenadilla) is used to make woodwind instruments, while guitar players often demand mahogany necks and ebony bridges.

But Lucy does highlight the Cyclotron electric guitar which is lovingly crafted from old yogurt pots and CDs (simonleeguitars.com) fused into a dynamic polymer. For several musicians, notably Tom Jarvis from Reverend and the Makers, it is their guitar of choice.

Here’s a product that has overcome a great deal of guitar snobbery and prejudice because players rave about its sound. As Lucy says, could this be the key to genuinely sweet music?

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A Greener Festival.com

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Photographer: Michael Cox

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