People in Alaska like to listen to KTOO, a not-for-profit Juneau-based public radio station that shares interesting stories about life in Alaska. Recently, KTOO posted an article on its website about Sitka spruce, the wood that has helped make guitars and violins sound so good the world over.
Sitka spruce is used as a “tonewood,” which helps give stringed instruments their unique and beautiful tone. Interestingly, one guitar company is taking issue with how and where Sitka spruce is obtained for use in guitars and other instruments. At odds is the issue of clear cut logging in the Tongass National Forest.
Do most musicians realize they’re strumming on wood which conceivably might have come from an old growth forest in Alaska? Probably not.
Sitka spruce is harvested from several areas in Southeast Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Many of the great players in popular music, from Bob Dylan to Tom Petty, have played acoustic guitars with Sitka tops.
Would musicians support cutting down old growth forests for their guitar tops? Probably not. Yet that does happen, and some in the industry would like to see it stop.
Take, for instance, Tom Bedell. His company, Bedell Guitars, decided to stop using any clear cut wood in their instruments. Instead, the company relies on a supply of salvaged Sitka spruce that comes from dead or down trees.
Bedell sources the wood he uses to make guitar tops from Alaska Specialty Woods, owned by Brent Cole. Smartly, Alaska Specialty Woods utilizes salvaged trees rather than clear cut ones. It’s an environmentally-responsible approach to business.
As more and more people begin to care about literally saving the old growth forests from destruction, it looks like there will be less clear cut logging done in the Tongass.
By using salvaged wood to make things like guitar tops, companies are showing they care about preserving old growth forests rather than destroying them for profit.