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Mog
07-08-2009, 09:22 AM
Hiya, I hope i dont piss people off with my very post but im trying to source a new uke which fits my green morals! Maybe im wrong, as even after extensive internet searching i cant find any information on this, but i remember save the rainforest campaigns in the 80s and 90s saying that we shouldnt buy tropical hardwood (ie mahogany, ebony, rosewood etc.), and up till now i have always done this. Yet I need to upgrade my mahalo plywood uke and everything seems to be made of these woods. Ive tried emailing a few suppliers about thier green cedentials but i just get fobbed off. Does anyone know of environmentally conscious makers/suppliers?! (Ive heard of someone who makes bamboo ukes but they are out of my price range),or am i overeacting and you can now get farmed tropical hardwoods?

Any information appreciated.

Ta

mealfrog41
07-08-2009, 09:32 AM
I don't have any answers for you on that, but I've been wondering the same thing. I'd like to hear what everyone has to say about this. I would be great to know about the sustainability efforts in preserving these scarce tonewoods and to possibly get involved or at least choose luthiers who implement green practices. I know Mr. Moore uses solar power in his home and shop.

bbycrts
07-08-2009, 09:38 AM
Hiya, I hope i dont piss people off with my very post but im trying to source a new uke which fits my green morals! Maybe im wrong, as even after extensive internet searching i cant find any information on this, but i remember save the rainforest campaigns in the 80s and 90s saying that we shouldnt buy tropical hardwood (ie mahogany, ebony, rosewood etc.), and up till now i have always done this. Yet I need to upgrade my mahalo plywood uke and everything seems to be made of these woods. Ive tried emailing a few suppliers about thier green cedentials but i just get fobbed off. Does anyone know of environmentally conscious makers/suppliers?! (Ive heard of someone who makes bamboo ukes but they are out of my price range),or am i overeacting and you can now get farmed tropical hardwoods?

Any information appreciated.

Ta

Dave at Waverly St. ukes uses local timber - often cut from firewood, I think! - to build his ukes. Nice stuff!

www.wsukes.com

Mog
07-08-2009, 10:15 AM
I've just re-read my post and I feel the need to appologise for my appalling grammer and spelling! I'll try better next time.

haole
07-08-2009, 10:17 AM
Yeah, Waverly Street uses local wood. And their ukes are surprisingly affordable too! Shipping wood from around the world probably causes as much environmental distress as deforestation, so consider something local.

Not sure what Flea Market Music's offerings are like in the green department (plastics probably aren't the greenest), but you likely wouldn't need to replace one except in extreme circumstances. I guess buying a Fluke instead of a cheap laminate is like buying a reusable tote bag instead of getting a bunch of paper ones. All Flukes and Fleas are made in the USA, which is a plus.

Ran into a guy at Uke Fest in NY who builds ukes, chess boards, and other neat wooden items out of reclaimed koa from uke and furniture. He told me that most wood scraps are actually burned otherwise! So it's neat that he's doing so much with remnants. I'm drawing a blank on his name, but I'll look him up when I get home.

This is an interesting thread and I'm curious to see what else comes out. Hopefully it stays civilized and doesn't degrade into politics.

Ahnko Honu
07-08-2009, 10:28 AM
Yeah, Waverly Street uses local wood. And their ukes are surprisingly affordable too! Shipping wood from around the world probably causes as much environmental distress as deforestation, so consider something local.



Amen, the first person that entered my mind was Dave G. at Waverly Street 'Ukuleles, all made from local sustainable hardwoods, and they sound GREAT (love my pineapple #51). :shaka:
http://www.wsukes.com/index.html
http://www.wsukes.com/forsale.html

Futch
07-08-2009, 10:37 AM
I have been thinking of starting a thread on this issue myself. I am a graduate in 3D Design for Sustainability, and as such I am well aware of the complex issues surrounding the design and manufacture of products with a view to sustainability.

I find it quite shocking that Koa is seen as the absolute pinnacle of ukulele tonewoods by many, yet we are talking about a species which is on the ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST!

From my experience it seems that many Hawaiian ukulele players want an instrument made from Koa because it is to them a native timber. Yet by making this choice they are helping to bring about the destruction of their very own ecosystem. It is a bizarre paradox, and therefore I belive that is incredibly important to raise awareness of the issue.

The OP has also picked out other tropical hardwoods, and these species are in trouble too. Friends of The Earth has a campaign called 'Mahogany is Murder'. I think this goes some way to express the seriousness of the situation.

I suggest that everyone should watch this trailer for a documentary on the subject of wood within the music industry. Although it talks about acoustic guitars, the same principals apply:

http://www.hitman-productions.com/works/15_musicwoodX.html

It seems there is a certain cache about certain materials for specific purposes. People want Oak tables, for example, or rosewood fretboards, or mahogany whatever; simply because it is a familiar term. Even though another more plentiful timber could be used in its stead, and before just as well, or better even.

Pete Howlett has now made several ukes from indigenous British timber from a sustainable source, something that I admire greatly and hope that one day I will afford to own.

Mog
07-08-2009, 10:39 AM
Thanks for the links, I will contact him, his work does look lovely and so reasonably priced.

I've heard of one of the Japanese brands, I'm afraid I forget the name, advertising themselves as environmentally friendly due to the fact they use laminate (i.e. only very small quantities of tropical hardwood are needed) but I've yet to hear a laminate that I like the sound of.

Futch
07-08-2009, 10:46 AM
The laminate you're thinking of is probably a Kiwaya. I have played one and thought it sounded great, you would never guess it was a laminate. However, remember that when most things are advertised as environmentally friendly it is a load of bull, "greenwashing" (something to google if you haven't heard the term) as its known. In my opinion, lamination offers no significant environmental benefit.

I am pleased to see that there is someone who shares my concern on this issue. I only hope that awareness widens before it is too late.

Mog
07-08-2009, 10:57 AM
Thanks for the information Futch. Im glad to hear you have more up to date information than I do, I have been unable to find much about Koa so it is interesting to hear that it is one the endangered list.

I tried looking into mango wood as I presume this a tree which is farmed for fruit and therefore more sustainable, but then a mango wood uke will come with rosewood fingerboard etc. which then defeats my purpose.

The few suppliers I have contacted say that they follow the laws of the country of origin (i.e. usually China) which Im afraid I dont trust. Prehaps it is time for manufacturers to be actively pursuing sustainable alternatives, but the demand is not yet there from the consumer for this to be viable.

dave g
07-08-2009, 11:11 AM
Dave at Waverly St. ukes uses local timber - often cut from firewood, I think! - to build his ukes. Nice stuff!

www.wsukes.com

Thanks! And I've got a dump truck load coming this weekend. Told the guy what I was doing with it and he said he would make sure I got a bunch of different species, including lots of walnut and cherry :)

Futch
07-08-2009, 11:14 AM
You seem to understand the issue well Mog.

We simply cannot rely on half-arsed, watered down laws to protect our environment, because they don't go far enough. From what I have researched and learned so far I believe that we will have to make far bigger changes to our lifestyles in order to develop a truly sustainable future for ourselves.

I apologize I'm going to far off topic, and I will try to steer this post back to the subject!

My minor project for my degree looked at the very issue you have brought up, more sustainable materials for musical instruments. I concluded that it was simply best to keep things local. I.e. an instrument made from local materials by a local craftsman. In this case I think that Pete Howlett is the only maker to fit the bill. You will also have the added benefit of being able to specify exactly what you want, resulting in an instrument that will be with you for a lifetime.

dnewton2
07-08-2009, 11:20 AM
Pete Howlett has made some sustainable wood ukuleles. There are a few thread in these search results. (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/search.php?searchid=790310) A bit more pricey then Waverly street ukes but very nice ukulele.

Pippin
07-08-2009, 11:24 AM
I have been asked for people's opinions on "Green Ukuleles" in Ukulele Player. The person asking did not want to be identified at first and he has not said that it is okay to reveal who he is, but he has been approved by a manufacturer with a goal of producing environmentally friendly ukes.

Dave is using local timber for his ukes, as several people have commented.

I'd also like to mention that Pete Howlett has begun producing ukes with local timber from England.

Dave and Pete are trend-setters here. The retailer I mentioned above is also seriously examining this issue and when he is ready, I think I'll be able to do a feature on the subject.

Pippin
07-08-2009, 11:25 AM
Thanks! And I've got a dump truck load coming this weekend. Told the guy what I was doing with it and he said he would make sure I got a bunch of different species, including lots of walnut and cherry :)

Hot dog... I can't wait to see the resulting instruments.

1014
07-08-2009, 12:00 PM
I have been thinking of starting a thread on this issue myself. I am a graduate in 3D Design for Sustainability, and as such I am well aware of the complex issues surrounding the design and manufacture of products with a view to sustainability.

I find it quite shocking that Koa is seen as the absolute pinnacle of ukulele tonewoods by many, yet we are talking about a species which is on the ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST!

From my experience it seems that many Hawaiian ukulele players want an instrument made from Koa because it is to them a native timber. Yet by making this choice they are helping to bring about the destruction of their very own ecosystem. It is a bizarre paradox, and therefore I belive that is incredibly important to raise awareness of the issue.

The OP has also picked out other tropical hardwoods, and these species are in trouble too. Friends of The Earth has a campaign called 'Mahogany is Murder'. I think this goes some way to express the seriousness of the situation.

I suggest that everyone should watch this trailer for a documentary on the subject of wood within the music industry. Although it talks about acoustic guitars, the same principals apply:

http://www.hitman-productions.com/works/15_musicwoodX.html

It seems there is a certain cache about certain materials for specific purposes. People want Oak tables, for example, or rosewood fretboards, or mahogany whatever; simply because it is a familiar term. Even though another more plentiful timber could be used in its stead, and before just as well, or better even.

Pete Howlett has now made several ukes from indigenous British timber from a sustainable source, something that I admire greatly and hope that one day I will afford to own.

Here's a thread (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8662&highlight=island+wood) with some info about the availability and viability of Koa.

mailman
07-08-2009, 12:46 PM
Thanks! And I've got a dump truck load coming this weekend. Told the guy what I was doing with it and he said he would make sure I got a bunch of different species, including lots of walnut and cherry :)

Dave, let me ask you for a luthier's veiwpoint....

I have a very tall cherry tree on my property that has died. It shows no signs of foliage or growth. It is in excess of 16" in diameter at the base, and quite straight. Would this timber be suitable for building ukes?

wearymicrobe
07-08-2009, 01:16 PM
There is a locak builder here that does only usstainable ukuleles think it is hilco but I wll have to double check my records at home.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
07-08-2009, 01:55 PM
My shop and home are run 100% on solar power, I simply have no other option where I live. Water is also collected and heated from the heavens. And most of the koa I'm seeing these days is either from dead trees or from logs that have been laying (and rotting!) on the forest floor.

SailorQwest
07-08-2009, 01:55 PM
I have been thinking of starting a thread on this issue myself. I am a graduate in 3D Design for Sustainability, and as such I am well aware of the complex issues surrounding the design and manufacture of products with a view to sustainability.

I find it quite shocking that Koa is seen as the absolute pinnacle of ukulele tonewoods by many, yet we are talking about a species which is on the ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST!


.

I have been reading this thread with interest, I am allways trying to learn more.
I tried to find Koa on the endangered speicies list, but can't.
Where would I look for this information?

I like the idea of local materials, it can help conserve energy and add to diversity.

caz
07-08-2009, 02:05 PM
Greenpeace has an interesting site on their efforts, Musicwood (http://www.musicwood.org). They appear to be working with some prominent guitar manufacturers who are trying to address this problem.

hoosierhiver
07-08-2009, 02:08 PM
As an owner of a ukulele company, I have thought about this and have tried to look into it, (and should keep looking!). I don't think any of our sources use illegal wood, but it really comes down to taking their word on it.
There are alot more tree plantations than there used to be, but certainly not enough. Personally I have always contributed to environmental groups and will continue to do so. I belong to a local land trust and have thrown numerous benefits for them and other groups.
I see mango as a possible alternative to koa, mango is avery common tree in Asia and the trees are often cutdown when they become too old because they don't produce much fruit. Ohana has a willlow uke that seems very nice and of course, willow is a common tree also. I am also interested in bamboo and hope to offer a bamboo uke in the future.
Another green alternative would be buying a vintage or used uke. I appreciate this thread and agree that we should all try to be responsible and wise in our choices thru life.

Craig
07-08-2009, 02:24 PM
Since I really only look at custom ukulele makers, my opinion might be skewed. But most makers offer sustainable options. I know Ko'olau does.

Craig
07-08-2009, 02:24 PM
Greenpeace has an interesting site on their efforts, Musicwood (http://www.musicwood.org). They appear to be working with some prominent guitar manufacturers who are trying to address this problem.
Thanks for the site! Looks interesting!

dave g
07-09-2009, 03:47 AM
Dave, let me ask you for a luthier's veiwpoint....

I have a very tall cherry tree on my property that has died. It shows no signs of foliage or growth. It is in excess of 16" in diameter at the base, and quite straight. Would this timber be suitable for building ukes?

I don't see why not (well, unless it's all rotten and hollowed out). But surely there is some good stuff in there. Cut it, split it, and let it dry in the shade for a year or so.

LazyRiver
07-09-2009, 05:37 AM
This is a very important topic. Thanks for bringing it up.

Reading through the thread twice, here is a summary of what I've gleaned (with some tweaking of my own). Please revise or add where appropriate.

1. Avoid tropical hardwoods such as mahogany, ebony, rosewood

2. Look toward local, plentiful woods, which might be maple or oak or fir or even recycled boards; fruit woods are generally good because they have a limited orchard life to begin with; bamboo is a possibility because it grows so fast (technically itís a grass)

3. Laminates using throw-away particles or flakes from other woods can reduce use of new wood, but one should examine what materials and methods are being used in producing the laminates (e.g., harsh chemicals)

4. Look for local manufacture and materials to reduce transport costs

5. Look for energy conservation practices in manufacture, such as solar heat or wind power

6. Life ain't simple - each instance needs to consider the whole picture. For example, plastic ukes like Flea and Fluke don't use much if any wood, but DO use plastic. On the other hand, those plastics are recyclable, the ukes are nearly indestructible, and The Magic Fluke Company is only an hour and a half's drive from my home.

-- Al

haole
07-09-2009, 05:49 AM
6. Life ain't simple - each instance needs to consider the whole picture. For example, plastic ukes like Flea and Fluke don't use much if any wood, but DO use plastic. On the other hand, those plastics are recyclable, the ukes are nearly indestructible, and The Magic Fluke Company is only an hour and a half's drive from my home.


I didn't know Flukes/Fleas were recyclable too. Pretty neat. :D

Oceana Ukuleles (http://www.oceanaukuleles.com/) are made by hand in Ecuador with no machines, using either reclaimed or certified sustainable wood. Not only that, but I've heard they're awesome.

Mog
07-09-2009, 10:21 AM
Thanks for all the links, I found it very difficult to find any up to date information on the subject. I knew previously about the FSC but it does'nt appear to be widrly used by musical intrument makers.

It's heartening to know there is working going on to look into this problem.

BrotherUke
07-09-2009, 10:35 AM
I didn't know Flukes/Fleas were recyclable too. Pretty neat. :D

Oceana Ukuleles (http://www.oceanaukuleles.com/) are made by hand in Ecuador with no machines, using either reclaimed or certified sustainable wood. Not only that, but I've heard they're awesome.

Wow.. those Oceans are beautiful. Amazing craftsmen!

LonnaB
07-09-2009, 10:47 AM
Thanks for this thread!

The green thing is close to my heart.

I'll be checking out these links before I purchase my next uke. Hoosierhiver- I'll especially be keeping my eye on what you find, being as though you are local for me :)

LazyRiver
07-09-2009, 12:22 PM
I didn't know Flukes/Fleas were recyclable too. Pretty neat. :D

Perhaps I shouldn't assume, but I believe the types of plastic involved can be recycled.

-- Al

Jim X-S
07-09-2009, 05:32 PM
I hadn't thought about this before. Thank you for bringing it up. Actually it seems so workable also. Thinking about the videos I've seen with cigar box Ukes. Lots of them sound good.

Have a Great Day,
Jim

Ahnko Honu
07-09-2009, 07:25 PM
I'm just curious, are you willing to pay more, and how much more are you willing to pay for a certified "green" 'ukulele? :confused:

haolejohn
07-09-2009, 08:13 PM
From my experience it seems that many Hawaiian ukulele players want an instrument made from Koa because it is to them a native timber. Yet by making this choice they are helping to bring about the destruction of their very own ecosystem. It is a bizarre paradox, and therefore I belive that is incredibly important to raise awareness of the issue.


Pete Howlett has now made several ukes from indigenous British timber from a sustainable source, something that I admire greatly and hope that one day I will afford to own.

The first statement isn't true. Hawai'i's ecosystem isn't being destroyed by ukulele business. Commercialism is destroying the ecosystem. I just visited Oahu and Maui for the first time in 7 years and the growth is terrible to the scenery and ecosystem.

Now I agree with you on Pete Howlett's ukes. But there is something about the price issues. It isn't cheap to go green. Solar power is something that I would like to use but have you ever priced setting a house up for solar power. I can not afford it even though I want it and it is better.

Hopefully I am not going political here because there does need to be more awareness but let's face it until it becomes more cost effective being green isn't going to happen. I do everything that I can to help the environment. I ride a motorcycle instead of drive a car unless it is raining crazy. I would use public transportation if it was available. I minimize my trips , I hunt and shop at local farmer markets, I normally have my own garden but this year I traveled. Sometimes we just got to think about the impact that our choices have. Buying a solid koa ukulele vs. buying an SUV is just one example.

haolejohn
07-09-2009, 08:18 PM
We simply cannot rely on half-arsed, watered down laws to protect our environment, because they don't go far enough. From what I have researched and learned so far I believe that we will have to make far bigger changes to our lifestyles in order to develop a truly sustainable future for ourselves.


Very Well stated. This is what I was trying to say I think. How many are willing to make the changes though?

Nuke-ulele
07-10-2009, 06:42 AM
I believe Flukes and Fleas are injection-molded ABS. Here is some info on ABS:

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

It is recycleable, but ABS loses some of its strength and color when recycled, so it isn't really coming back at full strength. In other words, it is "downcyclable" if you are familiar with the concept. Unfortunately, ABS that is not from recycled material is very energy-intensive and not too environmentally friendly to produce in the first place. I woudl wager a guess that a locally-sourced wood ukulele made by hand woudl probably be the greenest solution...

...well, except for buying a used or vintage uke, which is the absolute greenest option in that the embodied energy is therefore given additional life and the new uke doesn't need to be built at all!

Nuke-ulele
07-10-2009, 06:46 AM
Why don't I buy a Fluke you may ask? Well...read that wiki entry..quote:

"ABS is flammable when it is exposed to high temperatures, such as a wood fire. It will "boil", then burst spectacularly into intense, hot flames."

I think my lightning fast shredding may result in a flash fire!

Melissa82
07-10-2009, 06:54 AM
Why don't I buy a Fluke you may ask? Well...read that wiki entry..quote:

"ABS is flammable when it is exposed to high temperatures, such as a wood fire. It will "boil", then burst spectacularly into intense, hot flames."

I think my lightning fast shredding may result in a flash fire!Oh dear :rotfl:

UKISOCIETY
07-10-2009, 07:24 AM
I hadn't thought about this before. Thank you for bringing it up. Actually it seems so workable also. Thinking about the videos I've seen with cigar box Ukes. Lots of them sound good.

Have a Great Day,
Jim

I came here to say this. Buy a cigar box uke! Recycle that old box - or it'll end up on the wall of a Bennigan's, Cracker Barrel or Appleby's.:shaka:

dave g
07-12-2009, 03:53 AM
Thanks! And I've got a dump truck load coming this weekend.

And it's here :)

http://www.wsukes.com/temp/wood.jpg

LazyRiver
07-12-2009, 03:58 AM
So how many ukes are in that pile?

-- Al

dave g
07-12-2009, 04:19 AM
So how many ukes are in that pile?

-- Al

Should keep my busy for a couple years :)

oceana
10-15-2009, 03:23 PM
As a luthier I find it hard to use Koa and many other woods in our instruments, due to the loss of trees that arguably are more valuable living.
At Oceana Ukuleles we are using only reclaimed Koa and for that mater about 75 to 80% of the wood we use is reclaimed (that is to say salvaged from other pre-existing wood objects or wood otherwise known as scraps) .
Obusly as a Luthier I only use quality tone woods... and not with green wood!