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Thread: Ukes and endangered woods.....shouldn't we care more?

  1. #1
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    Default Ukes and endangered woods.....shouldn't we care more?

    I've read a lot of talk here about woods of various kinds and which woods are better for what sound, and so on and so forth....but I can't find any discussion at all about wood choices in ukuleles and their environmental impact. Mahogony, for example, is a terrible choice in terms of the effect on world rainforests. When I was looking for my current uke I wrote to Kala asking them about where they source their woods and what they had to say about environmental impact, and they didn't even respond. I chose an acacia uke because I read a guide from rainforestrelief.org that said that acacia was a good alternative wood in its list of woods to avoid. You can see the pdf that I read here:
    http://www.rainforestrelief.org/docu...Guidelines.pdf
    I'd like to see more people talking about this issue here. So what do you think? Do environmental considerations ever enter in to the equation when you are choosing a uke?

  2. #2
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    I have not bought ukes based on environmental considerations. Thank you for bringing this subject up because it is a topic near and dear to me since I live in the giant Redwood forest region and we are very familiar with environmental concerns on our forest. I did not realize that Mahogany was a wood that impacted the rain forest. Thank you for turning a light on my ignorance. I just bought an acacia wood uke so I blindly made the correct wood choice but because it was so economical I am concerned where in China and by whom it was made. I think this is a good discussion to have and I know I would be willing to pay a little more money to know I was supporting fair trade and meeting environmental concerns.

    Roxhum
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  3. #3
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    Would certainly love to see more of these around...so I could play one before I pull the trigger- coolest idea ever I think
    TallGrass Ukuleles
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  4. #4
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pepamahina View Post
    I've read a lot of talk here about woods of various kinds and which woods are better for what sound, and so on and so forth....but I can't find any discussion at all about wood choices in ukuleles and their environmental impact. Mahogony, for example, is a terrible choice in terms of the effect on world rainforests. When I was looking for my current uke I wrote to Kala asking them about where they source their woods and what they had to say about environmental impact, and they didn't even respond. I chose an acacia uke because I read a guide from rainforestrelief.org that said that acacia was a good alternative wood in its list of woods to avoid. You can see the pdf that I read here:
    http://www.rainforestrelief.org/docu...Guidelines.pdf
    I'd like to see more people talking about this issue here. So what do you think? Do environmental considerations ever enter in to the equation when you are choosing a uke?
    Good reason to buy vintage! :-)


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  5. #5
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    Default sustainable woods

    RS Muth is a guitar maker in NY who is using sustainable wood.

    Model S15 and has been dubbed the “New Yorker” since all of the woods were obtained in my home state of New York. This guitar features Adirondack Spruce soundboard and bracing, quartersawn black walnut back and sides, butternut/hard maple/black walnut neck, fumed pear fingerboard and bridge, hard maple binding, butternut linings and birdseye maple burlwood accents.


    OTHER IDEAS
    Dogwood would work for fret boards. Dogwood was used in the past for making roller skate wheels and spindles for the woolen mills. It is very tough and wears smooth. Holly, hornbeam and persimmon would also work well for fret boards. Although the color is light on these woods for fret boards and may need to be stained to help hide dirt and oil. "Ebonized" maple was used for economy string instruments.

    Butternut is very good neck wood. It is light and strong and carves nicely. Working with butternut is like working with cedar. Walnut and ash would also work for necks.

    Ash, cherry, birch, locust, walnut would work for back & sides.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the thought. Never really considered it.

  7. #7
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    From the FAQ on Kala's website:

    Q: Does Kala use environmentally sustainable wood sources?

    A: Kala only uses woods that are from environmentally sustainable sources. We comply with all of the Lacey Act requirements regarding this issue. Our woods are common woods that are in good supply.
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  8. #8
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    to be honest, I never gave it much thought either.. I do believe that the good Lord gave us what we need on this earth, and we should use it, including to make music. But, saying that, I feel we should NOT abuse what God has blessed us with. Our over use and abuse of earth's resources does irriversible damage to our planet, and that is not being good stewards of God's gift to us. I am the same way about eating meat. I am an avid meat eater, and lover, but disagree how we abuse the animals we depend on for food, and over harvest for the sake of commerce.

    All that said, I am sure musical instruments do impact precious woods, but I still bet it isn't near as much as other industry. Simple old growth pines no longer exsist due to over harvesting to built anything common like homes, furniture, siding, just about anything. Even particle board is made from pine pulp. Other hard woods, and even exotics are used in high end furniture, paneling, flooring, and so many industries outfitting the rich with their furnishings and comforts, that I still think that the woods used in musical instruments pale in comparison as far as impact. Just food for thought as well..
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  9. #9
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    No, it's not something any of the uke players I know are willing to talk about, and yes, we should care more. I'm guilty of two koa ukes and will probably have a third eventually. Then there's the D-VI for my husband (eventually), and that will be four. Past that, I really don't want to use that as a tonewood anymore. I feel guilty enough for those already. Doesn't the impact of mahogany depend on where it's sourced? Please correct me if I'm wrong there.

    And of course as you point out, no one wants to discuss where it's sourced. I'm also concerned about factory conditions of the more budget ukes out there. It's a happy instrument. Wouldn't it be horrible for it be made in sweat shop conditions? But no one asks, no one knows, no one discloses. I've heard some of the factories are nice. But it was just some random internet thing I read. Anyone could type that with no source to back it up.

    /Getting Mainland _Mahogany_ tomorrow. Guilty. :/

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plainsong View Post
    I'm also concerned about factory conditions of the more budget ukes out there. It's a happy instrument. Wouldn't it be horrible for it be made in sweat shop conditions? But no one asks, no one knows, no one discloses. I've heard some of the factories are nice. But it was just some random internet thing I read. Anyone could type that with no source to back it up.
    I've given this a lot more consideration than the actual environmental impact. When I first started playing I thought I would only buy vintage, but that turned out to be more of a "lifestyle" than I was willing to deal with (intonation issues, cracks, etc). I ended up with a made-in-China uke until I could afford my first Hawaiian one, and never really felt right about it. So I've committed to buying only Hawaiian or custom in the future.

    As far as the environmental impact goes - I've seen bamboo ukes out there, which I think is one of the most sustainable woods? They don't sound half bad, and the grain is kind of cool looking.
    Kamaka ukuleles, Martin strings. Just keeping things simple.

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