Taylor Guitars Straight Talk About Ebony
Bob Taylor and Taylor Guitars takes a bold stand on the visual appearance of a guitar, sourcing ebony and corporate responsibility.
In a recently produced video, Taylor describes his step-by-step journey that brought him to the realization that as steward of the forest (His Company partnered with a Spanish firm and now supplies ebony to the majority of the high-end guitar making community), the reckless principles of all the predecessors which led to the clear cutting of forests in numerous African and Asians countries. In many of those counties last ditch efforts were made to protect the last remaining trees on federal reserves, which has led to poaching and the illegal harvest of the wood.
Once the natural resource was used up in one country, suppliers would seek about another country that grew ebony and would harvest until that source was depleted. And the suppliers would seek out yet another source.
One of the remaining sources of ebony is the country of Cameroon. Taylor’s travel and business merger with the Spanish wood distributor Madinter gave the company direct access to the wood – and to the workers who physically bring the timber into the mill. There Taylor learned that of ten trees that were toppled, only one had high enough quality of lumber to be used for making guitar parts.
The reason the other nine trees – after being cut down – were not further processed is because of the wood’s color. That’s right, ascetics was the only thing that determined that the wood was not “quality”.
Ebony has long been prized for musical instruments because of its functionality and (traditionally) its uniform black color. Ebony that is not pure black is equally as functional: it just was not considered visually pleasing.
In his video, Taylor announces that the guitars they produce will now feature ebony with the color features found naturally in the wood and plays one of the guitars with the distinctive wood coloring on the fingerboard: one coffee colored spot and vanilla streaking.
By making the broad decision and encouraging others to follow suit, the amount of ebony in Cameroon alone increases tenfold.
Personally, I believe that Taylor’s efforts need to be applauded. In encouraging responsible growth, responsible harvesting and responsible use of ebony and other timbers we can continue to enjoy guitars made with traditional materials. When listening to a CD, no one can hear whether the ebony was black or pure yellow. His campaign is representative of a change of mindset: beautiful wood is wood as it appears in nature.