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View Full Version : Why build or buy a ukulele made from restricted or endangered wood?



wayward
11-01-2014, 03:38 AM
Bearing in mind the posts on here that proved the best luthiers can make so many different types of wood sound sweet in ukulele form, why would anyone deliberately choose one which is made of something on the endangered list...? http://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/restricted-and-endangered-wood-species/ :confused:

Tigeralum2001
11-01-2014, 04:19 AM
Why not? I mean, if the wood was cut before the law restricted it, what is the harm? The tree is already dead.

Toucan Mango
11-01-2014, 04:25 AM
I know of one builder that tries get his wood (koa) from fallen trees etc.

wayward
11-01-2014, 05:32 AM
Why not? I mean, if the wood was cut before the law restricted it, what is the harm? The tree is already dead.

Some of the trees listed are at risk but are not yet legally restricted - would you build/buy a ukulele from these woods? I don't think I would want to give my money to anyone who had been part of a process which meant a tree was cut down which was becoming rare, particularly when there are alternatives available.

wayward
11-01-2014, 05:35 AM
I know of one builder that tries get his wood (koa) from fallen trees etc.

If someone is absolutely set on using something like Koa (though I'm not sure why they would be..) that makes sense to me :)

Tigeralum2001
11-01-2014, 05:49 AM
Some of the trees listed are at risk but are not yet legally restricted - would you build/buy a ukulele from these woods? I don't think I would want to give my money to anyone who had been part of a process which meant a tree was cut down which was becoming rare, particularly when there are alternatives available.

Martin makes a uke out of plywood (basically). Several people make them out of non-threatened woods. Rick Turner is one famous for it. Byron Barnes prefers it (though he is not well know to UU). Mya Moe offers a sustainable line. I'm sure there are others.

The threatened woods I own are either vintage, fallen, reclaimed, or from sources that are replanting. I feel no guilt. Why do I own them- sound, tradition, look, and many other reasons. Plus, trees regrow when managed correctly. No one is poaching trees to supply the wood on my behalf and I follow all applicable laws.

If you chose not to use them, I have no problem with that. If you oppose unsustainable practices, then we have common ground. I believe there is nothing wrong with choosing woods that are (or were at the time) legal.

Ukejenny
11-01-2014, 06:03 AM
African black wood is quickly being depleted and there are groups out there who are trying to bolster the species. I've read a story that they are even growing it in Florida now (but I can't locate the grower online). That gives hope to clarinet players like me.

I am sad to see rosewood and sandalwood on the CITES list. I'm glad that acacia koa is not on the list and is listed as a species of "least concern" - makes me thing that they are working on sustaining the species.

wayward
11-01-2014, 06:13 AM
If you oppose unsustainable practices, then we have common ground.

Yes, we have common ground (an appropriate metaphor too!) :) The reason I phrased the title of this thread as a question is that I'm interested in all views. I am ashamed to say that the subject of sustainable wood choice is one I've only recently started to consider, so I'm genuinely interested in the knowledge other people have (which is almost certainly bound to be greater than my own).

hoosierhiver
11-01-2014, 06:14 AM
The government(s) have gotten more serious about CITES in the past few years. There are plenty of great tonewoods that don't come from threatened species.

saltytri
11-01-2014, 06:15 AM
This is certainly a conversation worth having but koa may not be part of it. The point has been made here and elsewhere that there isn't a shortage of koa trees but, rather, a shortage of trees that can be legally harvested. Many are protected simply because they grow on land where harvesting isn't legal. Thus, the lumber is scarcer that the ukulele world and other users would like. Market forces drive the price up but not because there is a shortage for the same reason as many of the listed species, actual scarcity of growing trees of harvestable size.

wayward
11-01-2014, 06:16 AM
I'm glad that acacia koa is not on the list and is listed as a species of "least concern" - makes me thing that they are working on sustaining the species.

Yes, it would be good to have this confirmed - and to know which woods used in ukuleles are least threatened.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
11-01-2014, 06:17 AM
I know of one builder that tries get his wood (koa) from fallen trees etc.

Please, let's put this myth to rest. Koa is NOT endangered or restricted. It's just damned expensive because the demand I'd so high and the area where it's grown is relatively small. But you are correct, almost all of the koa being milled that I am familiar with is from downed trees. Some have been sitting on the forest floor for decades.

wayward
11-01-2014, 06:18 AM
This is certainly a conversation worth having but koa may not be part of it. The point has been made here and elsewhere that there isn't a shortage of koa trees but, rather, a shortage of trees that can be legally harvested. Many are protected simply because they grow on land where harvesting isn't legal. Thus, the lumber is scarcer that the ukulele world and other users would like. Market forces drive the price up but not because there is a shortage for the same reason as many of the listed species, actual scarcity of growing and harvestable trees.

Ah, that's interesting. Thanks for that info saltytri.

KnowsPickin
11-01-2014, 06:38 AM
Just an FYI, Bob Taylor of Taylor guitars has taken some really excellent positive steps to help sustain the supply of ebony in the world. Here is a link to his video on the project.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anCGvfsBoFY

Toucan Mango
11-01-2014, 06:46 AM
Please, let's put this myth to rest. Koa is NOT endangered or restricted. It's just damned expensive because the demand I'd so high and the area where it's grown is relatively small. But you are correct, almost all of the koa being milled that I am familiar with is from downed trees. Some have been sitting on the forest floor for decades.

Yeah, I did not see it on the list or I missed it, I glanced through the link very quickly. But I have read that the remaining koa forests represent a last home for many rare, threatened & endangered species of birds, insects and plants.

IamNoMan
11-01-2014, 06:49 AM
Let us ignore for the moment the question of laws. Politicians have obscure and arcane reasons in the way write laws. Consider the peculiar Ukulele law in Salt Lake.

Let us ignore for the moment aesthetic issues. Beauty is an argument unto itself.

The Raison D'etre for craftsmen is the understanding and mastery of tools, techniques, and materials they work with. I know of no craftsman in any field who is not interested in the who, how, what, when and most importantly why of their craft. Wood in particular is a material that raises more questions than ever get answered.

The question of endangered and restricted species is of concern to craftsmen. The craftsmen are not generally the root of the problem here. Governments, Corporations, Insects and microbes are all much more of a problem here. Sustainability for renewable resources is much more important issues. Did you know that it takes two trees to produce the amount of air you require to breathe? How many trees have you planted? How many of those trees have survived? In my part of the world every farmer has a wood lot. The wood lot has many incidental uses but the economic use of a wood lot is that it can be selectively harvested every 35 years or so. The proceeds from this harvest will finance the college education of a couple of kids, when properly managed.

Koa has been mentioned here. By definition Koa only grows in Hawaii. This makes it a rare wood. Koa grows all over the Hawaiian islands in most all climactic regions. It is a fast growing weed. The types of koa used for instruments is not in the weed class. Different sizes of tree are required for different purposes. It takes an older, bigger tree to produce guitars then it does to produce ukuleles. Stressed trees often provide wood of particular interest to luthiers and other fine wood workers. Insect infestations producing burls are similarly of interest. These types of Koa Are significantly more rare than the "weeds". All this rarity creates a demand push on the supply of koa which is particularly annoying to luthiers. They may be craftsmen but they still have to support their families. The luthiers I've communicated with have indicated that Koa in Hawaii is not harvested systematically anymore. ie they obtain their supplies from standing dead wood or suppliers. Some luthiers refuse to deal with suppliers who take advantage of demand push pricing. Some luthiers with political clout lobby for restrictive legislation. I think the craftmen who deal with rare woods should form a co-operative to systematically and renewably produce the rare woods they require.

bonesoup
11-01-2014, 07:11 AM
OP brings up a good point. This concerns me too, and I'm relieved Hawaiian koa isn't on the list. If anyone has details about how its managed, I'd like to hear more about it.

Living where I do, I have a strong opinion that buying anything of Brazilian wood, rosewood or otherwise, is bad. People have clear cut a France-sized portion of Amazon rainforest in the last X number of years. I took a train across France once. It was a long trip and that was only part of the country. France is enormous. That rainforest is gone.

I offer this opinion respectfully. And I'd just like to remind that buying used instruments is sustainable.

IamNoMan
11-01-2014, 07:34 AM
There is a small book, (novella maybe), called "The man who planted Trees". It concerns the deforestation of the Rhone Valley in France. A great story and germane to this discussion. Much of the problem in the rainforests is habitat destruction. The trees will come back ultimately. Williamsport PA was the 10th largest city in USA in the eighteen eighties, during the lumber boom. Nearby Pine Creek was a muddy treeless wasteland by 1918. By ~1940 Pine Creek was fully reforested naturally. The difference is the Pine Creek Valley is mostly Spruce. Of course spruce is an excellent tone wood.

hoosierhiver
11-01-2014, 07:41 AM
I've heard people say before that Koa has to be grown in Hawaii, to be real Koa. Acacia Koa can be grown elsewhere in the world and still produce the same wood because we are talking abut the same species of tree. It's like arguing it's only a Colorado Spruce if it's grown in Colorado.
Habitat destruction through logging is what people should be most concerned about.

Mango is one of my favorite woods because it is typically harvested from fruit farms to make way for younger trees that will produce more fruit. So it is pretty eco-friendly.

Rick Turner
11-01-2014, 07:48 AM
Just a comment re. Acacia koa. It is not defined as "koa" by where it usually grows anymore than Tasmanian blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) is defined by being from Tasmania. Koa could grow elsewhere there is a similar climate and reasonably close soil conditions if anyone wanted to. I'm surprised that it's not being plantation grown in Costa Rica. Koa is not a location, it's a species.

Eat fewer hamburgers if you want to put less stress on tropical hardwood forests. Support any replanting efforts. Go out and plant a tree. Develop a love for woods like walnut, maple, and cherry. Do not support the clear cutting of the Tongas Forest.

IamNoMan
11-01-2014, 08:13 AM
As Rick and Hoosier have said.

The whole mystique of Hawaiian Koa is somewhat annoying. I am not knocking Hawaiians or their ethnic and cultural pride. I laud it. Koa is good tone wood. The acaccia Koa grown in the mountains of California and Colorado is still Koa, even if the growing conditions change its characteristics somewhat. I suspect my curly Koa ukulele made in Indonesia is not Koa at all. Acaccia, yes. Koa...hmm. It is analogous to Champagne. Sparkling Wines that do not come from the Champagne region are not champagne, by law. Of course in the USA we ignore this distinction. We are a snarky people. (And if Lambrusca rootstocks from America, had not been grafted onto european vinifera vinestock there would be no champagne at all).

Ukulele Eddie
11-01-2014, 08:21 AM
I'm a sucker for highly figured woods, but do agree we should be conscious that some trees are threatened. Also, for those truly conscientious about it, now there are non-wood material options that sound good even compared to wood (e.g., the Blackbird eKoa used in the Clara).

Steveperrywriter
11-01-2014, 08:23 AM
There is a difference between the intent of a law and its effect …

I don’t want to see whales taken, elephants killed, nor endangered trees logged, and the idea of protecting them seems, on the face of it, sound. We don’t need blubber or ambergris, and there are other substances that can serve for elephant ivory or endangered woods. The problem arises when common sense fails to make it into the regulatory process. Which happens, it seems, as often as not ...

Your great-grandma’s old piano with its ivory and ebony keys? That guitar whose back is made from the door of a hundred-and-fifty-year-old church being torn down? The pendant your dear aunt Sally got on her sixteenth birthday party? Should be exempt, right?

Not if you don’t have paperwork attesting to these things, and even if you do, best you not try to travel across a border with ‘em. Somebody’s great-uncle bought some BRW from somebody else’s great uncle eighty years ago and stuck it in the garage, but paid cash and didn’t get a bill of sale? Great-nephew found it when old unk passed on? Illegal to use it in your next uke build. Same thing with that desk your daddy bought when he was working down in Brazil thirty years ago, if he didn't get a bill of sale you can find.

Banning mammoth or mastodon ivory because it looks like African elephant ivory? Kind of like banning oregano because it looks like marijuana. Just plain stupid, and thank you, New York state.

Can’t use Amazon Rosewood because it looks too much like Brazilian?

We aren’t supposed to have ex post facto laws in the U.S., so if it was legal when you bought it, you ought not to be penalized for having it now. Doesn’t work that way, of course, and in some cases, you can understand why. That Thompson submachine gun grandpappy brought back from the Korean War is regulated these days, and most of us won’t argue with that. You could buy guns from the Sears catalog and get them delivered at home when I was a kid, and that's not a good idea any more; still, the idea that a valuable piece of jewelry or a cherished musical instrument legally made is no longer something you can sell, or in some cases, even keep?

Somebody needs to get a few more sandwiches, ‘cause they are short of a picnic …

UkerDanno
11-01-2014, 08:37 AM
Do not support the clear cutting of the Tongas Forest.

agree...the attached is an old article,
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cindy-shogan/tongass-national-forest_b_3922320.html
but hopefully this situation can be corrected! I can't believe the Forest Service is doing anything other than preserving this forest.

IamNoMan
11-01-2014, 08:48 AM
There is a difference between the intent of a law and its effect …Right On Steve!

Rick Turner
11-01-2014, 09:09 AM
If we had a lot more musicians passing laws than lawyers, we'd be a lot better off.

OOOh, is that too political for the UU? Sorry, moderators. NOT!

blue_knight_usa
11-01-2014, 09:44 AM
Just a comment re. Acacia koa. It is not defined as "koa" by where it usually grows anymore than Tasmanian blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) is defined by being from Tasmania. Koa could grow elsewhere there is a similar climate and reasonably close soil conditions if anyone wanted to. I'm surprised that it's not being plantation grown in Costa Rica. Koa is not a location, it's a species.

Eat fewer hamburgers if you want to put less stress on tropical hardwood forests. Support any replanting efforts. Go out and plant a tree. Develop a love for woods like walnut, maple, and cherry. Do not support the clear cutting of the Tongas Forest.

I thought Pepe Romero Jr.'s Climate Reality Project was great. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIRqLeIHKw4 I met Pepe a few years back and he told me about his "Beetle Kill" wood guitar and ukulele he had built. Who would of thought to use diseased dead wood? Genius! I am sure there are so many types of wood that would sound great, but it just takes someone to get the wood and try it. I am sure some woods just won't bend or work well for certain parts of instruments but I would think there are a ton of great woods out there which are not commonly used but could certainly be used to make great instruments.

p.s. there are 22 MILLION ACRES of this in Colorado (I lived there and saw it in the 80's and 90's) and all over the U.S. frankly where you have beetle kill. I would imagine that's enough wood out there to last every luthier dozens of lifetimes of years of supply.

Hmmm...now it's got me thinking on that next instrument ;-)

pritch
11-01-2014, 10:53 AM
Reading this thread reminded me of the raid on the Gibson factory a few years ago. My concern was that such a raid could put a small custom maker out of business.

Looking to find a suitable link to better inform myself, and to post here, it seemed that any news item I came across that explained what took place was also overtly political in nature. I guess therefore that if anyone isn't aware of the details, and would like to know, they had better do their own Google search for "Gibson guitar raid."

Doc_J
11-01-2014, 11:38 AM
Just an FYI, Bob Taylor of Taylor guitars has taken some really excellent positive steps to help sustain the supply of ebony in the world. Here is a link to his video on the project.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anCGvfsBoFY

That was very enlightening. Thanks for the link. Very cool what Bob Taylor did.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anCGvfsBoFY

Ukulelerick9255
11-02-2014, 06:20 AM
Blackwood is now on the cites list, fortunately I had mine shipped to my luthier overseas before it went on the list. I agree if it's already cut its not an issue, cutting new tress on protected list is an issue. I chose blackwood for the beauty of the wood and the sound quality, pics of the build are on here under my name.

Rick Turner
11-02-2014, 06:59 AM
When you say "blackwood", what wood are you citing? Dalbergia melanoxylon (African blackwood...a true rosewood) or Acacia melanoxylon (black Acacia, aka Tasmanian blackwood which grows in California as well as Australia)?

It's really helpful in discussions about wood to know exactly what we're talking about.

BTW, I don't know of any California grown Acacia koa, but it would be great if folks started to plant it. If the Hawaiians can have California's Sequoiadendrum giganteum (giant Sequoia), then we should get some koa!

Ahhh, a bit o' research and here's a long discussion about koa in California with excellent comments on Acacia melanoxylon, too:
http://www.cloudforest.com/cafe/forum/61792.html

Time to go resaw some of that acacia that I have...

CeeJay
11-02-2014, 07:13 AM
If we had a lot more musicians passing laws than lawyers, we'd be a lot better off.

OOOh, is that too political for the UU? Sorry, moderators. NOT!

Can we just have less lawyers ?:uhoh::stop::rotfl:

Rick Turner
11-02-2014, 07:14 AM
BTW, kind of buried in that blog about koa in California is a reference to "our" Acacia melanoxylon being a bit harder than Acacia koa. That is my experience as well; I find it to be a bit closer to typical Indian rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia) with the wood that I have gotten than a lot of koa, though there is variance in both species.

I was fortunate to be gifted about two tons of quarter log sections of Acacia melanoxylon about two years ago. I've been able to resaw a lot of beautifully quartered sets for ukes and guitars. The sections I got were from a section of the trunk that was about 34" to 38" in diameter, and I've had to do a lot of judicious chain saw work to get these down to sizes I can handle on my resaw.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
11-02-2014, 02:13 PM
Please, let's put this myth to rest. Koa is NOT endangered or restricted. It's just damned expensive because the demand I'd so high and the area where it's grown is relatively small. But you are correct, almost all of the koa being milled that I am familiar with is from downed trees. Some have been sitting on the forest floor for decades.

There is much MUCH more Brazilian rosewood in the world then Hawaiian Koa (based on that Brazil is 8.5 million sq miles, while the Big island is 4000 sq miles) yet BRW is on CITES.... :(

Custom luthiers don't contribute in any way to endangering any species, we are all very conscious of our materials and use every usable splinter.

I suppose one could make the comment that custom luthiers do contribute to the endangerment of species if one assumes that large factories follow the lead of custom luthiers, but I dont think they do.

Rick Turner
11-02-2014, 02:35 PM
Sorry, Beau, but Dalbergia nigra only grows in the Atlantic Forest of South Eastern Brazil:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalbergia_nigra

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Forest

Note that in the 500 years or so that Europeans have been in Brazil, that forest has shrunk from 1 to 1.5 million square kilometers down to 4 thousand.

I love the stuff, and I have some of the "stump wood" that will slowly go into expensive guitars and ukes as I totter along closer to retirement. The stump wood was harvested from trees cut down before 1967. I consider it "salvage", and I have no ethical problems using it. But I won't buy any freshly cut BZ.

An enlightened and uncorrupted government would not only protect what trees are there, but also embark on a replanting mission. Fat chance...

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
11-03-2014, 06:27 AM
Sorry, Beau, but Dalbergia nigra only grows in the Atlantic Forest of South Eastern Brazil:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalbergia_nigra

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Forest

Note that in the 500 years or so that Europeans have been in Brazil, that forest has shrunk from 1 to 1.5 million square kilometers down to 4 thousand.

I love the stuff, and I have some of the "stump wood" that will slowly go into expensive guitars and ukes as I totter along closer to retirement. The stump wood was harvested from trees cut down before 1967. I consider it "salvage", and I have no ethical problems using it. But I won't buy any freshly cut BZ.

An enlightened and uncorrupted government would not only protect what trees are there, but also embark on a replanting mission. Fat chance...

Thanks for the additional info Rick- I didn't look into it far enough.

Like most things on an endangered list, its not endangered in a natural sense- i.e it doesnt suffer from something like beetle kill etc- it would still be in complete abundance if the corrupt gov just stop cutting it down to, as you said, to make way for livestock and shanty towns.

But that is humanity in a nut shell- exploit what is useful until it is utterly extinguished, much like an virus.

Teek
11-03-2014, 08:42 AM
As far as I am concerned for all our brilliance and talent, at this point humanity is pretty much exactly that, a virus. Fortunately one that will eventually cause it's own extinction, hopefully well before we destroy the environment to the point where the cetaceans will not be able to recover. Google "Pacific gyre garbage patch" for just the tiniest example of how we refuse to stop sh*tting where we eat.

Rick Turner
11-03-2014, 09:19 AM
More birth control would help, but viruses may eventually take care of Gaia's problems with us...

Steveperrywriter
11-03-2014, 09:30 AM
As far as I am concerned for all our brilliance and talent, at this point humanity is pretty much exactly that, a virus. Fortunately one that will eventually cause it's own extinction, hopefully well before we destroy the environment to the point where the cetaceans will not be able to recover. Google "Pacific gyre garbage patch" for just the tiniest example of how we refuse to stop sh*tting where we eat.

Well, aren't you a ray of sunshine ...

ubulele
11-03-2014, 01:16 PM
Well, aren't you a ray of sunshine ...
Why shut our eyes to the inevitable? The Pollyanna attitude that we can blithely continue doing what we're doing with no substantial repercussions is what has landed us in this definitely unsunny situation. We're past the point of salvation, with population continuing to grow as consumption per capita increases; it's not a matter of if but when.

Steveperrywriter
11-03-2014, 05:39 PM
So, you want to talk about entropy and the heat death of the universe? Big Bang collapse or steady state? Maybe the ghostbusters crossing the proton streams?

Geez. If none of it matters, why are you here?

IamNoMan
11-03-2014, 05:55 PM
I don't quite buy this Malthusian doom saying myself. The rate of technological change humanity has gone through in the last two centuries is staggering. I hope we can change our rate of response to environmental concerns before we cripple our civilization though. Probably won't matter much when the Yellowstone Volcano erupts. Its only about 100,000 years overdue.

Rick Turner
11-03-2014, 06:25 PM
"Ghost Busters" is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen! Wow!

Sabantien
11-03-2014, 08:14 PM
I don't really know much about the ecology of where the popular woods come from, but I know that in rainforests if a large tree falls, it becomes an integral part of the cycle of the forest. Importantly it allows light through to the forest floor, and this would happen if the tree is harvested once fallen.

But they also provide protection and a home for animals, an incredible amount of nutrients are returned to the soil for new trees to use. They're an incredibly important part of the cycle of life in a rainforest.

Surely even harvesting fallen trees can have detrimental environmental consequences. (Is there anything we can do that DOESN'T?)

Just something that popped into my head as I read the discussion.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
11-04-2014, 06:03 AM
So, you want to talk about entropy and the heat death of the universe? Big Bang collapse or steady state? Maybe the ghostbusters crossing the proton streams?

Geez. If none of it matters, why are you here?

Lets cross streams!

Phuufme
11-04-2014, 07:30 AM
I don't really know much about the ecology of where the popular woods come from, but I know that in rainforests if a large tree falls, it becomes an integral part of the cycle of the forest. Importantly it allows light through to the forest floor, and this would happen if the tree is harvested once fallen.

But they also provide protection and a home for animals, an incredible amount of nutrients are returned to the soil for new trees to use. They're an incredibly important part of the cycle of life in a rainforest.

Surely even harvesting fallen trees can have detrimental environmental consequences. (Is there anything we can do that DOESN'T?)

Just something that popped into my head as I read the discussion.

This is a really good point, in my opinion. Everything in moderation. Just need to define moderation.

Steveperrywriter
11-04-2014, 07:54 AM
Lets cross streams!

I'm not sure that's something one guy ought to say to another, Beau ...

Steveperrywriter
11-04-2014, 08:26 AM
I don't really know much about the ecology of where the popular woods come from, but I know that in rainforests if a large tree falls, it becomes an integral part of the cycle of the forest. Importantly it allows light through to the forest floor, and this would happen if the tree is harvested once fallen.

But they also provide protection and a home for animals, an incredible amount of nutrients are returned to the soil for new trees to use. They're an incredibly important part of the cycle of life in a rainforest.

Surely even harvesting fallen trees can have detrimental environmental consequences. (Is there anything we can do that DOESN'T?)

Just something that popped into my head as I read the discussion.

I think the key phrase here is, "Is there anything we can do that DOESN'T?" And the answer is, No, there isn't. Even taking a breath kills microbes. Most of what we eat or drink is going to change something by virtue of picking or harvesting, or digging a hole, or running a pipe. Hey, if you pick that coconut, then that little tree rat over there won't be able to do it, and it will have to look elsewhere for dinner. Whoa, better not harvest that hundred-year-old tree stump because that little tree rat will have to find another place to burrow.

This is not to say you can't make an effort to keep the world as clean and functional as you can, helping out the tree rats and all, but you can't keep it pristine. If you believe all humans should jump in the ocean and drown, and leave Mother Gaia to her own so she can evolve the whales? Fine. But it ain't me, babe. There might be a place for mosquitoes and red ants in the cosmic scheme of things, but I don't want them in my house, and like Desiderata says, I'm a child of the universe, too, and I have a right to be here.

For those who think "natural" is a thing to which we should aspire with every moment, I like to point out that we naturally should live on the African veldt without clothes, (but with fleas,) chowing on roots and berries and leftover carrion, being eaten by animals or killed by a slew of diseases, or eating the wrong roots and berries, after short, and mostly unhappy lives. Once we moved from the tropical grasslands to where it was cold and put on our shoes and coats, "natural" went out the (unnatural) windows of our unnatural houses. Planting crops, building shelters, riding in our cars, flying in jets, getting immunized against a host of illnesses? Don't see a lot of that among the other great apes. Law and order?

Nothing natural about any of it.

If you are here reading this, you are doing it on some kind of unnatural electronic device. If you play your ukulele, it was made using unnatural tools, and in most cases, from at least some materials not found in nature, and those that are "natural" having been worked in ways that are way beyond what Cheetah can do. When is the last time you saw a tuning machine growing on a bush? Or a nylon string tree? Like wooden pegs? Fine. How did they get produced? Obsidian knives? Even those need to be made with intent.

If you liken humans to a virus, or think that we are all doomed to extinction, that's your business, but I have to wonder, why are you bothering to be here? Doesn't seem to me that the ukulele lends itself particularly well to nihilistic players ...

IamNoMan
11-04-2014, 11:18 AM
Steve did you ever think that maybe playing Ukulele keeps folks from falling into a state of despair?

Steveperrywriter
11-04-2014, 11:43 AM
I would hope everybody has some way to help keep themselves from falling into a state of despair.

It strikes me that somebody who calls me, and everybody else, a virus, and who won't be unhappy to see us all gone so's the whales will thrive, is already there. Likewise, one who says we are a species doomed and it's only a matter of when, rather than if, it's too late!

Seems to be something in some folks that just wants to rain on the parade. The Bierce quote comes to mind: "Puritanism - The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."

Sure. We all know life is ephemeral, but what benefit is there in dwelling on that to the point of depression? I don't think you have to run around being blithely happy all the time, but I also I don't see how either of those comments are part of any solution that is going to make things better. We are good, bad, and ugly. Always have been, and if you get a choice, which would you be?

If playing the uke will help alleviate that misery, great. But it does seem all too often that misery loves company, and if the folks around you aren't that way? You can point out things that might make them so.

Why would you do that?

IamNoMan
11-04-2014, 01:14 PM
Why would you do that?I suffer from 4 kinds of depression, three types are chemical imbalances; which may or may not be treated successfully. The fourth kind of depression is despair based, when circumstances just shatter my morale. It is the worst. "The optimist says the cup is half full, the pessimist says the cup is half empty." I think of myself as a realist. I ask if there is enough in the cup. Any thing I can do to make the fourth kind of depression go away I do. Ukulele, Banjo, and Song are three ways I counter this insidious condition.

I found it humorous that you quote Ambrose Bierce. Didn't he coin the term curmudgeon?

Redeyejedi
11-04-2014, 02:03 PM
I suffer from 4 kinds of depression, three types are chemical imbalances; which may or may not be treated successfully. The fourth kind of depression is despair based, when circumstances just shatter my morale. It is the worst. "The optimist says the cup is half full, the pessimist says the cup is half empty." I think of myself as a realist. I ask if there is enough in the cup. Any thing I can do to make the fourth kind of depression go away I do. Ukulele, Banjo, and Song are three ways I counter this insidious condition.

I found it humorous that you quote Ambrose Bierce. Didn't he coin the term curmudgeon?

as to the the cup being half full or half empty, i say it's twice a large as it needs to be thereby creating all the confusion in the firstplace...as to the depression, i can fully relate. art, music, animals/gardening repeat. in any order...they seem to help me tremendously.

as to the trees, i'd love to get a hold of seeds/saplings... i have palms i've grown from seed, bannana, guava, avos, lemon, crab apple, (two mangos died last winter). not my main hobby, but it's fun to watch things grow.

Steveperrywriter
11-04-2014, 02:07 PM
I suffer from 4 kinds of depression, three types are chemical imbalances; which may or may not be treated successfully. The fourth kind of depression is despair based, when circumstances just shatter my morale. It is the worst. "The optimist says the cup is half full, the pessimist says the cup is half empty." I think of myself as a realist. I ask if there is enough in the cup. Any thing I can do to make the fourth kind of depression go away I do. Ukulele, Banjo, and Song are three ways I counter this insidious condition.

I found it humorous that you quote Ambrose Bierce. Didn't he coin the term curmudgeon?

I believe "curmudgeon" predates Bierce by a couple-three hundred years.

I am big on whatever gets you through the night, as long as it doesn't involve torturing animals or harming children, and the ukulele does seem to raise a lot of spirits ...

Curious about your screennom: a fondness for Ulysses's adventures?

IamNoMan
11-04-2014, 02:29 PM
My greatest passion is not Music but Storytelling. I am a Shannachy and a yarnspinner par excellance. I first became acquainted with Homer in third grade when I read a kids book about the "Adventures of Brave Ulysses". IamNoMan is how Odysseus introduces himself to the Cyclops. My avatar shows the way Odysseus escaped the Cyclop's cave. It is a drawing of a statuette currently residing in the Museum in Olympia.


Inspire me muse to sing of the wanderer, who sailed the wine dark sea and toppled the towers of Illium from my signature is not only the introductory passage from the movie "Brother Where Art Thou" but the beginning of Homer's Odyssey as well. The 260 in my signature is the number of posts it took at UU for somebody to first ask me this question. Like Ulysses I consider myself to be a cunning bastard.

If folks here are interested I will start a spoken word forum/thread to discuss storytelling, poetry etc.

You are probably right about the curmudgeon thing. It probably comes from Johnson's "Dictionary" rather than Bierce's "Devils Dictionary".

Nickie
11-04-2014, 02:42 PM
Thanks to the OP for a very enlightening thread. I don't want anything built out of any Brazilian rain forest wood. Or sequoia, or redwood...
Kudos to all the builders who conserve and who care about the trees, and the critters that live off them. (Including us)
I have planted 12 Bald-cypress trees that have survived from 3 to 15 years so far. They are much taller than I, and most were little sticks when I got them. They have a period of dormancy here, but they make up for that by living around 2,000 years. I believe I have a small legacy here.
We were driving on a highway over the weekend, and I saw a huge area where the trees had been slaughtered to make the road wider (instead of our stupid state letting us build light rail). It was the first time I cried looking at something like that, and I muttered "murderers". Then I wished all that had perished "godspeed".
Trees are my faves of all critters....without them, we won't last long. Kudos to any of you who plant them and nurture them!

Rick Turner
11-04-2014, 07:27 PM
Nickie, I assume that you do not live in a wooden house nor have wooden floors nor have any wooden framing in the walls of your not-wood house or apartment building, and I assume you have no wooden salad bowls and no wooden kitchen utensils and never use wooden chop sticks in Asian restaurants and you, of course, would never pick your teeth with wooden toothpicks nor walk on a wooden deck nor open or shut a wooden door, and, of course, you have no wooden furniture nor do you own any books made from wood pulp and you don't print documents on your computer (which, by the way, is loaded with hazardous and eco-unfriendly-made parts) and you don't use toilet paper...because it's made from trees, nor paper towels nor Kleenex, and you don't write checks.

Instead of bitching about the use of a renewable resource...like trees...and taking a holier than thou attitude, do something to promote planting and the growth of trees. I assume you already cut down on your red meat intake.

BTW, because the days of small farms are long gone in the northeastern portion of the US, the hardwood and softwood forests have made a remarkable comeback over the past 75 years. Even red spruce (aka Adirondack spruce) (Picea rubens) is coming back.

I have responsibly harvested Dalbergias (rosewoods), Sequoiadendron giganteum (giant Sequoia), Sequoia sempervirons (coastal redwood) and other local woods, and I intend to build instruments with these woods that will last for hundreds of years. I buy my wood from folks who do care about the health of the forests, unlike the Native American tribes who want to clear-cut the Tongas. And I don't believe in crappy ukes that will be landfill in twenty years.

Steveperrywriter
11-04-2014, 08:44 PM
My greatest passion is not Music but Storytelling. I am a Shannachy and a yarnspinner par excellance. I first became acquainted with Homer in third grade when I read a kids book about the "Adventures of Brave Ulysses". IamNoMan is how Odysseus introduces himself to the Cyclops. My avatar shows the way Odysseus escaped the Cyclop's cave. It is a drawing of a statuette currently residing in the Museum in Olympia.

from my signature is not only the introductory passage from the movie "Brother Where Art Thou" but the beginning of Homer's Odyssey as well. The 260 in my signature is the number of posts it took at UU for somebody to first ask me this question. Like Ulysses I consider myself to be a cunning bastard.

If folks here are interested I will start a spoken word forum/thread to discuss storytelling, poetry etc.

You are probably right about the curmudgeon thing. It probably comes from Johnson's "Dictionary" rather than Bierce's "Devils Dictionary".

Well, I wasn't asking where the name came from, my question should have shown that. Just wondering about your connection to the saga. Looked at the avatar, and I remember the sheep as being bigger than that, but it has been a while since I read the tale ...

Sabantien
11-04-2014, 09:02 PM
I think the key phrase here is, "Is there anything we can do that DOESN'T?" And the answer is, No, there isn't. Even taking a breath kills microbes. Most of what we eat or drink is going to change something by virtue of picking or harvesting, or digging a hole, or running a pipe. Hey, if you pick that coconut, then that little tree rat over there won't be able to do it, and it will have to look elsewhere for dinner. Whoa, better not harvest that hundred-year-old tree stump because that little tree rat will have to find another place to burrow.

This is not to say you can't make an effort to keep the world as clean and functional as you can, helping out the tree rats and all, but you can't keep it pristine. If you believe all humans should jump in the ocean and drown, and leave Mother Gaia to her own so she can evolve the whales? Fine. But it ain't me, babe. There might be a place for mosquitoes and red ants in the cosmic scheme of things, but I don't want them in my house, and like Desiderata says, I'm a child of the universe, too, and I have a right to be here.

For those who think "natural" is a thing to which we should aspire with every moment, I like to point out that we naturally should live on the African veldt without clothes, (but with fleas,) chowing on roots and berries and leftover carrion, being eaten by animals or killed by a slew of diseases, or eating the wrong roots and berries, after short, and mostly unhappy lives. Once we moved from the tropical grasslands to where it was cold and put on our shoes and coats, "natural" went out the (unnatural) windows of our unnatural houses. Planting crops, building shelters, riding in our cars, flying in jets, getting immunized against a host of illnesses? Don't see a lot of that among the other great apes. Law and order?

Nothing natural about any of it.

If you are here reading this, you are doing it on some kind of unnatural electronic device. If you play your ukulele, it was made using unnatural tools, and in most cases, from at least some materials not found in nature, and those that are "natural" having been worked in ways that are way beyond what Cheetah can do. When is the last time you saw a tuning machine growing on a bush? Or a nylon string tree? Like wooden pegs? Fine. How did they get produced? Obsidian knives? Even those need to be made with intent.

If you liken humans to a virus, or think that we are all doomed to extinction, that's your business, but I have to wonder, why are you bothering to be here? Doesn't seem to me that the ukulele lends itself particularly well to nihilistic players ...

Well I never said humanity to a virus. All I was doing is pointing out the complexity of the situation. Similar to if we all became vegan, we'd have to kill every cow, sheep, chicken, etc. But that's another argument.

I certainly hope ukuleles aren't driving any plants to extinction, but I guess there's always going to be someone who wants the rarest of woods, perhaps with some rhino horn trimmings (if there is such a thing), just because it IS rare.

I assume most of your comment is a general rant, because if you got killing off humanity in favour of whales and whatever else from my post then your imagination, my friend, is truly astounding.

IamNoMan
11-04-2014, 10:44 PM
Steve I will attempt to elucidate my tie to the Odyssey. A shannachy is a traditional Irish storyteller. As I said I am a shannachy and a yarnspinner. The Oral Tradition is important to me. The English made it a capitol offense to teach the Irish to read or write, So all stories, genealogies, histories, etc were learned by rote at the foot of a mentor. There is a long Bardic tradition in Ireland that supports this sort of thing and goes back to Roman times at least. Some suggest that The Irish (Milesians), were originally from Miletus in Turkey. These earliest settlers were called the Tuatha Da Danaan and became known as the local Gods. The Danae in Ancient Greece were 50 sisters who's Father Atreus got them to murder their husbands all of the on the same night, their wedding night. The Gods didn't like this and put a curse on the House of Atreus, The Atrieides. (Frank Herbert used this same plot line in Dune; but that is another story). One of the Atrieides, Menelaus married Helen, who had the face that launched the 1000 ships, The ships were biremes designed originally by the Phoenecians and made of Cedrus libani , The Cedars of Lebanon, (Also known as the home of the Gods). Cedrus libani was severely over harvested in ancient times. It did come back in time however but as precession will have the cedars came back not in Lebanon but in Turkey, where Miletus and Troy are. With me so far? No? Well Helen (of Troy) ran off with Paris of Troy and all the Greek Princes decided to help Menelaus get her back. Odysseus was one of those, (remember him?). So anyway the Greeks and the Trojans fought a war for ten years over this bimbo. Finally Odysseus when his turn came up to be a general, (Strategos), came up with the strategy of the Trojan Horse. Since the Greeks lost many men and had lots of extra boats the Trojan Horse was probably built from spare biremes, (Cedrus libani ); but Bireme was a famous racing horse that won the Epsom Oaks. Her Progeny Bolas won the Irish Oaks and Daffodil won the AJC Oaks. So the Trojan Horse may have been built of Oak, Quercus trojana. The Oak is an endangered species in many parts of the world today. England and Irelands oak forests were used up mostly in building the Royal Navy. If Oak is endangered in England I say bad cess to them. They were the ones that forced the Irish to develop good memories. Up to 50 million Cedars are planted in Turkey to help reforestation efforts.

But I digress. The Trojan Horse Ploy worked. Troy was captured and burned. Menelaus and Helen made it back to Greece after being shipwrecked in Egypt. Most of the other Greeks went mad, were slain by their wives or otherwise did not live happily ever after. (Some of their stories are related in Book Seven of the Odyssey). Ulysses started home with seven ships. none of them made it. Ulysses lied to the Cyclops about his name and said it was IamNoMan, blinded the giant with a fire-hardened Ashen (Fraxinus excelsior), spear, escaped the Cyclops's cave by clinging to the belly of the largest ram in the giants flock, and incurred the wrath of the sea god Poseidon. Odysseus finally made it home after ten years, seven of which were spent in the arms of Circe, another bimbo. He ultimately carried an oak or ash oar inland to where no one had ever seen such a thing and planted it ensuring a renewable supply of the wood for the next 3000 years and ending the curse of Poseidon. (I parenthetically add here that the Spear of Lugh, one of the three magic artifacts of the Tuatha Da Danaan was made of ash). Fraxinus excelsior is endangered not by man but by beetles and fungi.

The Island of Sicily was thought to be the home of the Cyclops. Modern Classicists think that Homer may have been a woman, (I subscribe to this theory). That may be another tie-in to IamNoMan, Homer was blind and had to memorize his/her stories. He/She sang them at folkfestivals in places like Delos. I like to think she/he accompanied herself on an Ukulele , made of solid cedar. I follow in this tradition.

Steve I hope this satisfies your curiosity.

Steveperrywriter
11-05-2014, 07:26 AM
Sabantien --

Actually, I was speaking to a trio of posters, and referencing the virus and whales and despair and all, I was referencing the other two, not you. If you look back a couple of pages, you'll see the comments. The rant was specific, and I assumed you had read those posts because of how yours began. If I was in error, my apologies.

I agree a bunch with Rick -- we all draw the line where we draw it, and sometimes in the doing of that, we don't notice that we maybe should have considered it a bit more carefully, because what we say doesn't necessarily agree with what we do. I don't think this is deliberate hypocrisy, but it does sometimes show that lack of thought.

I am not the guy to point fingers at folks for their diets, for instance, my personal evolution hasn't gotten me to the vegetarian/vegan state; however, if somebody goes on and on at length about how much they love animals, that usually means they love some animals more than others. That cute panda, or their dog or cat, or the koala get a lot more love than scorpions or skeeters or rats.

Lot of folks love beef, pork, or lamb, but not so much cattle, swine, or sheep. See those campaigns for saving-the-whales or the elephants, but some of the same folks aren't standing outside the feed lot in Billings protesting all them gonna-be-Mickey D's burgers being slaughtered. If you are sitting at the table chowing down on a big steak, telling me how much you love animals rings a little hollow.

That's your business, you draw the line where you draw it, the only thing is, if you are going to be pure and holy, then you have to be pure and holy.

There's a story, probably apocryphal, about the woman who takes her child to see Gandhi. "Tell him to stop eating sugar," she demands.

Gandhi says, "Come back in three days."

She does. Gandhi says, "Stop eating sugar!"

"Why couldn't you say that three days ago?" the woman asks.

"Because three days ago I had not stopped eating sugar ..."

Rick Turner
11-05-2014, 08:32 AM
Case in point: The incredibly devastating destruction of the old forests in Tamania (look it up...south of Australia) by the Gunns lumber company has been driven by the hunger for wood pulp for paper...yeah, as in toilet paper, etc....in Japan and the rest of SE Asia. Thousands upon thousands of beautiful trees with fantastic timber has been cut or bulldozed down, pulped, and/or burned. In the place of these forests, the lumber companies have planted military parade precision rows of Eucalyptus regnans for pulp and a fast growing crappy pine for the construction industry. Now the really fun part... The native vegitarian critters...hoppy things like wallabies...other ones like wombats, find the fresh plantings appealing as dinner. So what do the lumber companies do? Spread out thousands of tons of poisoned carrots to kill the critters. Then down come the eagles and hawks and they feast upon the dead hoppy things, and they themselves die.

All so some folks can wipe their bums with cheap paper.

The glimmer of hope is that the Tasmanian Greenies managed to stop the building of a 3 billion dollar (yes...) pulp mill in Launceston, the northern port in Tasmania.

Hemp makes for much better paper than do trees at a considerably lower environmental cost.

And I sure wish more of that Tasmanian timber...the really good stuff...were managed for us uke and guitar builders. They have fantastic wood there that is just being destroyed to make disposable products of the kind that we use every day. Paper production...and particle board production...are the real enemies of good lutherie wood and the environment. That and greed. If the Portuguese had started planting a Dalbergia nigra tree for everyone they cut starting about 450 years ago, we'd have plenty of beautiful rosewood.

So don't blame uke builders. Blame all the other users of disposable wood products. And don't buy pre-landfill ukes. Buy good ones from good builders.

Sabantien
11-05-2014, 09:34 AM
Unfortunately the current Prime Minister down here has said that loggers are the ultimate conservationists.
More recently, burning coal is good for humanity.

I really don't know how he got voted in, I know very few people who voted for him, and most of them now regret it. Our governments are even skipping over environmental studies now, just approving things like dredging the Great Barrier Reef and dumping the spoil on wetlands (we stopped them dumping on the reef).

Unfortunately the politicians get more kickbacks from large mining and logging companies than they do from environmentalists.

Nickie
11-06-2014, 04:50 AM
I forgot to mention this guy....I don't have any of his ukes, regrettably, they are out of my price range for now...but he builds all his ukes out of Florida native species....none that to my knowledge are endangered.

http://sideways8uke.com/

Rick Turner
11-06-2014, 05:30 AM
Please see my post in Nickie's "Cocobolo Ukulele" thread.

And that sideways8uke site is under construction, so we have no idea what the woods are that he uses.

Unfortunately, most of the woods that are great for guitars and ukes are headed toward being endangered. Mahogany, koa, ebony, all the rosewoods with the possible exception of plantation grown Indian, spruce....the list goes on.

What can we do about it? Only buy products made out of wood that will last you a lifetime, and hopefully last way beyond that. Don't be afraid to use great and beautiful wood in long lasting products as long as any truly endangered wood was responsibly harvested. Promote the planting of trees. Promote the use of other fibers for paper production. Promote birth control...too many people is the basic problem. Eat fewer hamburgers...the rain forest devastation is more about opening up grazing land than exploiting hardwood forests (though that's an issue also).

hawaii 50
11-06-2014, 06:09 AM
Please, let's put this myth to rest. Koa is NOT endangered or restricted. It's just damned expensive because the demand I'd so high and the area where it's grown is relatively small. But you are correct, almost all of the koa being milled that I am familiar with is from downed trees. Some have been sitting on the forest floor for decades.


I like what Hawaiian Legacy trying to do....

http://www.legacytrees.org/

Rick Turner
11-06-2014, 06:27 AM
Yep, good stuff. I'll send them a check.

Note the cause of the problem: "farming and ranching" NOT "ukulele builders"!

Ukulele Eddie
11-06-2014, 06:29 AM
What can we do about it? ...[Lots of reasonable actions]... Eat fewer hamburgers...

You were very reasonable, Rick, right until that hamburger statement. :stop:

Rick Turner
11-06-2014, 06:36 AM
I didn't say "eat no hamburgers"! Just fewer... :)

RichM
11-06-2014, 07:02 AM
My uke is made from wood from the Tree of Knowledge, inlaid with hen's teeth, and strung with filaments from unicorn mane. Sounds like crap, but nobody's gonna tell me what to build with. :)

wayfarer75
11-06-2014, 07:43 AM
Please see my post in Nickie's "Cocobolo Ukulele" thread.

And that sideways8uke site is under construction, so we have no idea what the woods are that he uses.

Unfortunately, most of the woods that are great for guitars and ukes are headed toward being endangered. Mahogany, koa, ebony, all the rosewoods with the possible exception of plantation grown Indian, spruce....the list goes on.

What can we do about it? Only buy products made out of wood that will last you a lifetime, and hopefully last way beyond that. Don't be afraid to use great and beautiful wood in long lasting products as long as any truly endangered wood was responsibly harvested. Promote the planting of trees. Promote the use of other fibers for paper production. Promote birth control...too many people is the basic problem. Eat fewer hamburgers...the rain forest devastation is more about opening up grazing land than exploiting hardwood forests (though that's an issue also).

You're absolutely right on the hamburgers, Rick. It is the reason why forests are disappearing, not building ukuleles. It takes a lot of land for grazing and for growing feed crops. Many crops are grown strictly to feed animals for slaughter--some say more land is required to feed animals than to feed humans.

I'm a vegetarian, and while I know most people can't completely stop eating meat, making the decision to eat less meat is good for the planet (and good for your health, too).

Food for thought, eh?

hoosierhiver
11-06-2014, 07:49 AM
For a long time my personal policy was "only eat small animals" for the reason mentioned above.

moetrout
11-06-2014, 07:59 AM
Everytime I see the subject of this thread I keep thinking about ukes made from the wood from things like the Mayflower or a desk of a President. Personally I would like to make uke out of a Hickory tree I harvest off my own property. In a way, that would be rare too. Do any of you luthiers make ukes out of reclaimed wood from old furniture or buildings?

Rick Turner
11-06-2014, 08:29 AM
Yes, if it's suitable. I've made a series of ukes with redwood tops...the wood was salvaged from a fence that was put up at Stanford University at least 50 years ago, and they obviously did a great job building it because there were very few nail holes, and the wood is beautiful.

For a good look at what goes on with folks (not just plain folks, either) from a certain country of origin of many of the ukes that folks here on the UU seem to like to buy:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-29929423

Do you think they respect trees any more than elephants?

And...guitar and uke nuts and saddles were not why the elephants are facing extinction.

Steveperrywriter
11-06-2014, 08:36 AM
There’s a story, I recall it from the novel Lord of Light:

A proud and arrogant researcher was studying a degenerative and disfiguring disease for which there was no cure. One day, he contracted the disease. So he looked at himself in the mirror, and he thought, “But on me it does look good …”

How we view the world comes down to how we personally experience it, doesn’t it? That guy over there, when he does that thing, why, it’s bad! But if I do it? It’s different. My reasons are better …

The truth, so they say, waits for eyes unclouded by longing. I think that includes wanting to see ourselves as the nice guys, part of the solution and not the problem, but not cutting others the same amount of slack.

Being pure and holy is a hard road to walk. I haven’t been able to manage it. When I step crooked, I expect folks to point it out. Somebody usually does.

I don’t think anybody in this discussion is evil; I do think that when we make a broad, sweeping all-inclusive statement, we have to be careful, because those almost always have exceptions — or they are wrong. (And that includes the one I just made …)

jluttwak
11-06-2014, 02:26 PM
It is good for the industry to have credible alternatives to old growth wood (Sitka spruce, etc). These trees have a proportionally greater role at absorbing Co2 and only 10% remain. This is actually news as scientists as recently as 2013 believed these giants simply sat there as carbon reservoirs- see this abstract from respected journal Nature (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v507/n7490/full/nature12914.html). There should be a zero tolerance policy to cut down old growth without exception (a sweeping statement if there ever was one!). The remaining 10% are so preciously important to help combat climate change among other reasons. Just as it is not socially acceptable to use ivory, we should insist the same for these nearly extinct forests versus the more exotic the wood, the more desirable the instrument. Sure the quantities for instruments are not significant, but prices for 'exotic' tone woods are very high and help create demand with any exception opening the door for abuse. I am certainly biased because of the Ekoa Flax/biobased resin composite Blackbird has developed, but we did it in part to create a viable alternative. With this news about Co2, I believe we now have a mandate.

Rick Turner
11-06-2014, 04:02 PM
Unfortunately, even carbon fiber (and other composites) have a carbon footprint: http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112493049/the-dirty-secret-of-carbon-fiber/ And this article doesn't talk about how energy intensive it is to make carbon fibers. Try here http://www.reinforcedplastics.com/view/35788/the-greening-of-carbon-fibre-manufacture/

Joe's new composite is not CF, but it shares the same issues with regard to recycling old and/or dead products. Hopefully, his wonderful Blackbird ukes will be treated well, be loved, and will outlive us all and not wind up being shredded or melted down.

So they're trying to make it greener, but trees...and ones we like...can be plantation grown successfully. That's not much different than growing vegetables when you get right down to it.

And, yes, I'm a believer in using carbon fiber in high quality products and have two patents related to making and reinforcing necks with CF. We use strips of CF in all of our Compass Rose ukes to stiffen the fingerboard extension as well as reinforce the top upper transverse brace.

tainauke
11-06-2014, 04:07 PM
This is a nice thread with many intelligent remarks, especially for a complicated issue.

The thing is, that we are not used to stop and think about all the choices we make; most of them are just habits, some are marketed to us, and some we have never even considered.
For example, when we buy clothes, do we systematically think about what they are made of, where they come from, have children worked in factories to make this clothing, what kind of dye was used, is the company supporting sustainability etc? And to make things worse, there is an opacity that companies and industries maintain to confuse us even more. (for example, you can buy something "made in the USA" or "made in Europe", when in reality nothing was made in that country, but only the last assembly was made there; is that fair marketing?)

I think that you have to be really aware of ALL the choices you make, but you also have to know your limits, because becoming a "saint" as an environmentalist is very very hard and quasi impossible (for example, I could never have "ecological dry toilets", with my husband it would be suicide! :uhoh: But I have no problems adopting a vegan diet...)

The hardest part, is to get people sincerely interested in these types of issues... The average person won't stop to think: "Hey that ukulele sounds good, and I like the way it looks, plus it's affordable and I've got the cash. Ok I'll take it, seems like a fun instrument" and the thought process stops there. Is that bad? Well, it's not the best way to purchase something, but it is the way in which we are used to doing things...

In short, I agree with mostly everything that has been posted, love everyone, keep planting trees, support "sustainable minded" companies, and eat less or no meat! :)

Rick Turner
11-06-2014, 04:46 PM
Your husband shouldn't knock composting toilets until he's tried one! They work quite well, and are much more ecologically sound than flushing into a sewer system. They don't even stink all that badly if they're working correctly. Not much worse than my conventional toilets here after some of my employees have made a morning contribution...

Mine smells like roses, of course...

wayward
11-06-2014, 11:41 PM
This is a nice thread with many intelligent remarks, especially for a complicated issue.


Develop a love for woods like walnut, maple, and cherry.

As the originator of the opening question in this thread, I want to say "Thank You!" for all of your contributions so far everyone - I have read all of the posts and the additional reading material suggested, and I'm finding your comments especially helpful in developing my opinion. I live in a National Park (the New Forest in the UK), where some of the more enlightened past residents started to plan for the future by bringing in laws concerning the trees, and started to implement a re-planting programme long before their actions were likely to damage the environment irreparably, about 200 years ago (I can't say that my predecessors were so enlightened about all matters, but I think they got it right on this one), so I felt pretty dumb when I realised I hadn't considered whether or not making ukuleles out of certain woods could be causing a negative impact on other environmentally rich places in the world. I think I'll be checking the origin of woods and sticking to ukuleles made from reclaimed wood or sustainable sources in future (as well as planting a few trees, of course - as there are plenty of opportunities for that here!): it may only be a small contribution to the problems many of you have highlighted here, but size isn't that important to me ;) Hey, I'm a ukulele player, after all.

jluttwak
11-07-2014, 07:57 AM
Ekoa is over 75% biobased made mostly from Co2 negative flax linen.

Quality instruments should be designed to be heirlooms given their potential for a long useful life, and the use of wood is the weak link. Regarding recycling and product life cycle, conventional instruments are compromised because tonewood can warp, crack and bend- hence the need for carbon fiber as a band-aid to attempt to keep it stable (though they expand and contract at different rates). Composites alternatively are much more durable as well as humidity/temp stable under 'normal' operating conditions. They should outlast a wood instrument by at least a few generations, which conceivably could replace a few other ukuleles in the process. As an aside, wood used in old vintage instruments are far more stable and stiff than what is available today because the wood stocks were better then and the natural resin has crystallized.

Also plantation grown trees may actually increase Co2 levels as per this abstract (http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/pinetree.htm)- in spite of the claims from industry lobbyists, and as far as I know don't make for great tonewood.

And finally toilets... I lived in a barn in Maine for a summer with the band back in college. We had shovels and the woods out back as our bathroom. Makes me want to go rural again! I can't at the moment for various reasons, and so I must compromise with my conventional bathroom- it is tough to be the perfect eco-citizen! Certainly the situation is complex, so lets keep it simple: stay away from old growth/endangered wood unless you know that it is ecologically sourced.

Ukulele Eddie
11-07-2014, 08:03 AM
Mine smells like roses, of course...

No doubt. Is that where the name Compass Rose hails from? ;-)

Rick Turner
11-07-2014, 09:17 AM
Funny!

But here's the real story:

In the beginning....

When I first designed the first Compass Rose uke, I tried burying a magnet in the neck and found the balance point under the cantilevered fingerboard. I was hoping the peghead would point to the Magnetic North Pole turning the whole uke into a compass. Well, it didn't work.

But the motto still is:

"Find your way home with a Compass Rose ukulele."