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View Full Version : And now ebony!



Pete Howlett
06-22-2017, 02:36 PM
My contact in India wrote today that ebony was joining Rosewood on Appendix II of CITES :( I just ordered 200 fingerboard blanks!

DPO
06-22-2017, 09:42 PM
Surely this should be seen as a challenge to find other species ?

mainger
06-23-2017, 12:36 AM
Surely this should be seen as a challenge to find other species ?

Amen to that.

Michael N.
06-23-2017, 03:03 AM
Surely this should be seen as a challenge to find other species ?

What challenge? This is all about knowing your history of musical instrument making. Go back to when Strad was plying his trade and very, very few exotics were used - either in violin or lute making. In the last 6 or so years I've used very little rosewood or ebony, basically what I had left in my stocks.
I don't see a problem in finding suitable back/side, soundboard or neck material. It's plentiful. That leaves just the fretboard, which is a little more problematic. I use ancient bog oak but it's not viable for large scale producers. The amount available simply isn't enough. Normal oak is OK, very plentiful but the colour may put some people off. If someone could pressure dye it then that would solve that problem. Beech is another alternative and it does have some history as being used for fretboard material, surface dyed though. In fact there are properties that ebony has which make it less suitable as a fretboard material, namely how it reacts to changes in humidity.

Pete Howlett
06-23-2017, 04:49 AM
Michael, Bill and Dennis you all make valid points. The really big hurdle is trying to wean the public off of these woods while the big manufacturers, because of their position in the insdustry are still able to use them. I have used bog oak but it is unstable and expensive. The open pores make it unsuitable for fingerboards. I would love to use beech - this much maligned 'utility' wood has great working properties and when quartersawn, a stunning beauty but I would NEVER be able to sell an instrument with this specie on it - the public prejudice and notion of what it should be used for renders it imopossible to invent a 'new' use for it in musical instrument making. I have found an alternative which is great for small production builders like myself but there is no getting away from it. That Martin fake stuff they use is going to be derigeur in the future!

Timbuck
06-23-2017, 05:49 AM
A while back I listed two almost identical sopranos on eBay....one with a rosewood fret board and the other in baked maple the maple one didn't attract as many bidders as the rosewood...if I hadn't put "maple" in the description no one would have known the difference.

AndrewKuker
06-23-2017, 10:49 AM
Sounds like optimistic speculation from India. I mean, I’m sure it will be one day, but that’s like saying you’re gonna die. Yeah, at some point…. On a positive note we should have our rosewood permits within the week and it won’t affect our business too much in the long run. I just hope when they do it for ebony they give manufacturers and stores more time to prepare and apply for permits.

Graham Greenbag
06-23-2017, 11:36 PM
A while back I listed two almost identical sopranos on eBay....one with a rosewood fret board and the other in baked maple the maple one didn't attract as many bidders as the rosewood...if I hadn't put "maple" in the description no one would have known the difference.

From a (newish) players and buyers perspective I don't have fixed ideas about which wood should be used but rather am/are looking for something that is fit for purpose and which will retain appropriate value to me and others. Bruko use maple for their neck and fretboard combination on their No 6 model and it doesn't seem to put people off of buying them, and there is a vintage Kamaka on eBay.co at the moment that also doesn't (to my eyes) have a separate fretboard. Similarly some pictures that I see on the web of Nunes Ukuleles seem, to my eyes, to show no separate fretboard. There will, of course, be many good reasons for having a separate fretboard, but that arrangement doesn't seem to be absolutely essential.

The colour of a fretboard currently matters to me, but my particular eyes are no longer young and being able to more readily see strings and frets is a help. By way of example I'd like a Flea but perhaps black strings, black frets and black fret board might be an issue in use, would I need or welcome more colour contrast? Similarly are clear and light coloured strings less visible against Bruko's light (coloured) maple fretboard?

Thinking about Ken's Ukes I, as a buyer, see his product(s) as a true to original replica of an early Martin and that authenticity has value to both me and those who buy them second hand: retained value is an issue. By using a product other than Rosewood the authenticity is, in my mind at least, brought into question and so is the resale value. IMHO the very high quality of Ken's products, regardless of which wood that he as a skilled luthier chooses to use, is beyond question. However, and again IMHO, quality and (financial) value are not the same. I hope that Ken is able to find a way forward such that his many wonderful and classic replica products will, in some suitable form, be available to us - IMHO it doesn't always have to be a Martin replica, there are other valued designs too and commissions.

I hope that, despite my relative ignorance, my view of the situation is helpful.

Pete Howlett
06-24-2017, 07:51 AM
With great rspect Graham you are a new comer with good intentions. You are sadly one in a literal million. Ken has done a simple test - I think that says it all.