Fingerboards made with FSC certified Blackwood Tek
We're a small company. Our impact on the world, including our environmental footprint, is proportional to our size. But using that as an excuse not to do what we can would be a cop-out so every year we use the advent of Earth Day as an opportunity to do an internal audit of our business practices. As a result we've made changes in a lot of little things. Some things, how we pack guitars for example (we use end-cuts of ply-foam from a consumer packaging that would have gone straight to the landfill) extend the life of necessary consumables. Other things such as what we do with wood we rejected for quality reasons (we sell it to our competitors) actually reduce our costs. But nothing until now warranted talking about on Earth Day.
This year is a bit different. In addition to our internal examination of ways to improve we want to publicly announce a really big deal.
Rosewood and Ebony forests are threatened around the world. The guitar industry's need for significant quantities of both woods attracts, not only legitimate suppliers who practice sustainable forestry management, but also less-than-reputable loggers and vendors. Despite efforts by responsible companies (pretty much every brand, ourselves and our wood broker included) it is difficult to distinguish between the two. The global nature of the trade and the multiple layers involved murky the source.
Full logs - the source of our Rosewood back and sides- are not an issue. We know where they came from, who logged them, and every hand that touched them before ours. The big problem is the small stuff - specifically the blanks used to mill bridges and fingerboards - that's impossible to trace.
Two years ago we met Branko Hermescec, almost the epitome of the classic "mad scientist". He had developed an environmentally friendly way to modify New Zealand pine. He claimed products made with his process would be as hard, smooth and durable as Ebony, hence the name Blackwood. We were intrigued but initially sceptical. After two years of testing were happy to say his claims are completely justified.
Starting with our newest guitar we're eliminating all use of endangered woods for fingerboards and bridges. The Gratitude Canada 150 will feature KiwiWood fingerboards and bridges using FSC certified Blackwood Tek.