We can all agree upon this: the usage of many of our favourite tropical wood species has become more and more problematic over recent decades. Tropical woods are becoming scarce and are increasingly governed by restrictions on trade - see the recent CITES decision regarding all Rosewoods. Climate change and environmental degradation will certainly further accelerate this trend.
One of the missions of The European Guitar Builders (EGB) is to draw attention to this issue and to educate the public about the fact that instruments built using local regional woods can be just as great-sounding and good-looking as instruments built with tropical woods. That is why we have come up with the Local Wood Challenge. We want to highlight the fact that using only traditional tonewoods is not the only way to make a great guitar, and that sustainability has started to gain serious recognition as a seminal value.
The Local Wood Challenge (LWC) was originally conceived for The Holy Grail Guitar Show 2016. The idea was for exhibitors, if they chose to take part, to build one (or more) instruments to exhibit at the Show, using woods local to their region. This enabled the exhibitor to do something outside the normal confines and expectations, giving them the freedom to explore new and different aspects of their work.
The instruments created as part of the Challenge were presented to the media and the public at a special event during the Show. This turned out to be a huge success, and it immediately caught the imagination of the public as well as the media. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and media have now begun to feature the LWC in numerous articles, helping to focus attention on this important step towards sustainability. It is an idea whose time has come!
With this in mind we have decided to continue the LWC as an ongoing project.
The LWC will offer the possibility to luthiers to label their instruments made from sustainable local woods with a special LWC sign, and to present them as such to a larger audience. We hope that the LWC will eventually become a seal of environmental consciousness and an indicator to the public of instruments made in this way, and that it will encourage the guitar-buying public to consider buying guitars built from local woods. In collaboration with The Holy Grail Guitar Show and through the public channels of the EGB, the LWC will continue to provide visibility and familiarize the larger public with the concept of sustainably made guitars. The EGB will also collaborate with other organizations or events to provide public platforms for interested guitar builders.
Join the Challenge!
For the luthier the LWC offers not only the opportunity of a larger public platform, but also through using woods local to you (which in some cases could indeed be tropical) the chance to explore new possibilities and materials. It will enable you to step outside of what you may consider to be the restrictions of your market or of maintaining your reputation, and create something you otherwise might not. Some of you are already working with woods indigenous to your location, but we’d like to encourage more of you to discover the limitless possibilities to be found in your own backyard! And ultimately the Challenge is not only about avoiding the use of endangered tropical wood. Using local wood also leaves a smaller carbon footprint than using wood that’s been transported half way across the planet to the builder’s shop.
To join the LWC and to use the LWC symbol on your instrument, you have to register it with the EGB. The symbol will clearly identify these Challenge instruments. A list of the woods used and their provenance will need to be submitted.
If you are looking for more resources and information check also the Leonardo Guitar Research Project http://www.leonardo-guitar-research.com.
If you are an organization or event organizer looking for a collaboration please contact us by email.
After all — Local Wood could become very poplar!
If you are a guitar builder and want more information on the challenge and the registration to use the LWC symbol please click here.