How much wood gets used in the totality of guitar manufactur?

dlew919

Country Gent
Jul 18, 2016
1,204
Sydney, Australia
I remember reading some years back the total guitar industry uses less than 10 trees a year. I can’t find the article now and am happy to think it might be 100.

Does anyone know?

I do know that it was furniture manufacture that was causing the issues with shortages etc.

Note, I’m not here to discuss the rights and wrongs of environmental policy etc. just how much wood would andy wood wood if andy bought all the guitars?
 

Ricochet

Senior Gretsch-Talker
Nov 13, 2009
22,305
Monkey Island
First ask how many guitars are being manufactured anually?

Production numbers are generally not published but you can find sales numbers if you look hard enough.
Big boys like Cort have the capacity to manufacture close to a million guitars a year... if that's an indication.
Gibson was at 170.000 a few years back. Fender at 50.000(I'm assuming this is just the US made models).
With Gibson's bankruptcy and reorganisation, the dreaded virus, and general global kerfuffle, who knows.
 

thunder58

Super Moderator
Staff member
Dec 23, 2010
27,201
tappan ny
This is a 15 minute video should you have the time to watch it . I found it interesting how Martin obtained the wood and the amount of time to obtain it
 

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
5,731
Where the action is!
I do know that it was furniture manufacture that was causing the issues with shortages etc.
My first job out of college was inventory management at the world's largest (at least that's what they claimed) drumstick and percussion accessory company. The largely absentee owner had one task he wouldn't delegate at all, and that was the purchase of wood. And the reason why was that the furniture industry dominates the supply of quality hardwood to the degree that even with the amount of wood we were moving, lumber suppliers treated us like a minor nuisance and personal relationships were critical to keeping a decent supply coming.
 

jvin248

Gretschie
May 16, 2017
204
Near Detroit
.

It was 2.5M new guitars every year, back five years or more ago. Then came the stay-at-home-programs and guitar consumption took off. It's likely easily north of 3M guitars today.

80% of the global guitars are outfitted with Rosewood/Ebony or near-cousin-species from the same fragile rain forests. And the demand for these trees is for the heart wood (darkest) and with the straightest grain with no knots (so the largest trees). That narrow selection consumes a lot of prime lumber.

Too many players like to point to 'the furniture builders are the problem', but did you ever see the monte python skit with the 'very thin wafer'? That's the guitar industry. Small uses in finished product weight, but it still has a big impact on the industry.

Don't forget the sawdust! Especially with cutting and forming thin fretboards -- there is much more sawdust created than wood in the final product.




Professionals playing on stages and creating signature guitars always go for the most exotic wood they can incorporate -- and this drives their fans to chase the same exotic woods -- the pros cast a really long shadow across the forests. Really poor form for the professionals and famous players -- because if they are so good they can play just a little bit better (if they believe all their tone comes from wood) and encourage their fans to be more ecologically responsible. Some of those pros are funding environmental groups and yet they are up there on stage playing exotic lumber. Part of that is caused by guitar factories wanting exotic woods to justify higher retail prices and more profits.

Players demand MIA guitars ... and then seem to want imported lumber from low wage lumber regions rather than supporting MIA lumber jack and MIA lumber mill jobs. Seems a bit odd. Only players can demand the guitar factories change their habits by buying different guitars.

.
 

dspellman

Gretschie
Jul 4, 2020
397
Los Angeles
I remember reading some years back the total guitar industry uses less than 10 trees a year. I can’t find the article now and am happy to think it might be 100.

Does anyone know?

I do know that it was furniture manufacture that was causing the issues with shortages etc.
Guitar manufacture is a very minor use of wood. " In addition to well-known products such as lumber, furniture, and plywood, wood is the raw material for wood-based panels, pulp and paper, and many chemical products. Finally, wood is still an important fuel in much of the world." The guitar industry isn't even mentioned.
 

dlew919

Country Gent
Jul 18, 2016
1,204
Sydney, Australia
I remember reading some years back the total guitar industry uses less than 10 trees a year. I can’t find the article now and am happy to think it might be 100.

Does anyone know?

I do know that it was furniture manufacture that was causing the issues with shortages etc.

Note, I’m not here to discuss the rights and wrongs of environmental policy etc. just how much wood would andy wood wood if andy bought all the guitars?

Too many players like to point to 'the furniture builders are the problem', but did you ever see the monte python skit with the 'very thin wafer'? That's the guitar industry. Small uses in finished product weight, but it still has a big impact on the industry.
This is a thoughtful point.
 

loudnlousy

Gretschified
Oct 18, 2015
12,554
Germany
In Germany we have a century-old tradition of stinged- instruments- making.
The generation which is building guitars today is using the wood stock of the generation before.
They buy the wood for the generation that is coming after them and don`t touch it during their lifetime.
Usually they were using local woods exclusively. Very often they had their own little forests to plant some of their wood. So the idea is sustainability.
Since these were usually one-man-operations with no automation the amount of instruments is permanently limited to a few per year. So this system worked for centuries.

Industrialisation and massproduction does not allow us to walk this path any longer. That`s sad.
 

dlew919

Country Gent
Jul 18, 2016
1,204
Sydney, Australia
In Germany we have a century-old tradition of stinged- instruments- making.
The generation which is building guitars today is using the wood stock of the generation before.
They buy the wood for the generation that is coming after them and don`t touch it during their lifetime.
Usually they were using local woods exclusively. Very often they had their own little forests to plant some of their wood. So the idea is sustainability.
Since these were usually one-man-operations with no automation the amount of instruments is permanently limited to a few per year. So this system worked for centuries.

Industrialisation and massproduction does not allow us to walk this path any longer. That`s sad.
I saw a documentary once on violin making. There was a forest where you pick the tree. I can’t imagine how much that would cost.
 

juks

Country Gent
Nov 26, 2020
2,886
Fremont, California
I saw a documentary once on violin making. There was a forest where you pick the tree. I can’t imagine how much that would cost.
I saw a bit on stradivarius violins. They figured that the wood he used was from trees that had been exposed to exceptionally cold spell resulting to slower growth and hence more dense wood. Possibly resulting to a difference in sound.

But they also pointed out that blind test have been performed where violin experts have been unable differentiate stradivarius violins from much cheaper instruments.

And finally concluded that a player who knows he's playing a stradivarius may simply get such a kick from playing one that they just simply perform on higher level.

Fascinating stuff I thought.
 

swivel

Country Gent
May 13, 2018
2,260
PNW
Alder , like Fender and others use a lot, is cheap and fast growing. We burn it up here in the PNW for firewood. It rarely grows over 12-14" diameter. It has become popular in home cabinetry though and the price went up maybe 20 years ago, although it's still cheap. They use it in kitchen cabs and then just stain it to look like other woods. I probably have a dozen on my property 12" or so and many more smaller.

Alder grows so readily you just cant stop the trees from popping up.

It makes you wonder really when companies sell cheaper guitars why they go to basswood, poplar or other woods.. I mean ... there must be a couple bucks worth of wood in an alder guitar body! What are they saving...? 35 cents?
 

Back in Black

Country Gent
Jun 22, 2020
1,533
Ontario Canada
I remember reading some years back the total guitar industry uses less than 10 trees a year. I can’t find the article now and am happy to think it might be 100.

Does anyone know?

I do know that it was furniture manufacture that was causing the issues with shortages etc.

Note, I’m not here to discuss the rights and wrongs of environmental policy etc. just how much wood would andy wood wood if andy bought all the guitars?

dl,

Good topic!

With 2.6 million guitars being manufactured annually, I'm pretty sure the number of trees cut down for the guitar manufacturing industry is a lot higher than 10.

When you view any one of dozens of manufacturers manufacturing process videos, it becomes evident very quickly that not only a lot of trees are used, but a lot of the wood is wasted in the process.

CNC is a great process for speed and accuracy but CNC basically whittles down a whole tree to make one tooth-pick.

I'll also bet that excluded in the 2.6 million number are all the guitars made offshore and sold through web addresses like DHGate and ALIEXPRESS.

All the more important to keep recycling what's already out there. The vintage market is thriving as is the used market.

I have yet to look for a guitar that is waiting for me out there somewhere, that with a little looking/luck/perseverance, I was unable to find.

My most cherished pieces were all bought used/sight unseen, and when they arrived and the cases opened, I was over the moon.

Three recent acquisitions range in age from 20 plus years to 40 plus years, all were in original cases/original as manufactured condition, and for all intents an purposes ''like new''. I had one cracked pick-guard, that I was fully aware of beforehand, which was quickly and easily replaced soon after the guitar arrived.

A fender Telecaster is a perfect example, There's probably a million out in the wild for sale, in all the price ranges, from Broadcasters to the newer versions...why would anyone want to buy a new one??

I also like the idea of keeping the little ''Mom And Pop'' shops viable. The big guys don't need my help, and for my liking, a few of the big guys can close down tomorrow...I won't miss them! Smuggling/killing rare and endangered species (of any kind) should be a crime punishable by death.

Best,

BIB
 
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stevo

Friend of Fred
May 1, 2012
7,175
Atlanta
That number seems low, but maybe it's a specific kind of guitar type or a specific category like tone wood etc. I wouldn't consider an alder body or maple neck "tone wood". To me, tone wood is more like the tops and backs of acoustic guitars. IE, Spruce, Ceder, Rosewood, etc.
 

AZBrahma

Synchromatic
Dec 18, 2020
629
Arizona
I work for Georgia-Pacific. For those not familiar it is a 35,000+ employee company that produces all things related to wood via a large network of mills - paper towels, toilet paper, tissues, pulp, construction lumber, structural panels, plywood, chip board, particle board, packaging etc etc etc......Trust me, the guitar industry really is a drop in the bucket. Georgia-Pacific is actually very good about sustainability, because they have to be. It is their lifeblood. Good to see that guitar makers have gotten more serious about it as well.
 

wabash slim

I Bleed Orange
Feb 10, 2010
18,323
lafayette in
How much of that wood winds up as sawdust?
Computers were supposed to reduce the need for paper.
It's been just the opposite.
Cutting down the trees wouldn't be so bad if they weren't clear cutting, and if they were planting more afterwards. In England's forests, for every one tree cut down, four are planted.
 

dspellman

Gretschie
Jul 4, 2020
397
Los Angeles
In England's forests, for every one tree cut down, four are planted.
Don't make too much of that. One of the problems is that a lot of the trees that are planted are NOT part of the mix that was in the original forest. They're finding that flora and fauna complement one another, and if you're not also planting the companion bushes/trees, you don't end up with a truly viable forest.
 


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