Musicians Sing Praises of Green Guitars

Environmental awareness and music meet in more venues than songs about the rainforest, and hopefully has been taken to heart by more than David Gilmour's last album and Neil Young's album about green cars.

The music industry has moved beyond dedicating concerts to the environment as instrument manufacturers and artists are altering their practices to reduce their environmental impact. The combination of the industry's words and deeds could put being green front and center in pop culture.

Stringed instruments usually demand wood, or they could be made of brass or steel, like the three cones that provide the twang in steel guitars. Eco friendly guitars can be pursued through a number of vendors and luthiers, and tend to be made of certified lumber or the rare piece of tonal reclaimed wood.

Gizmag recently focused on eco friendly guitars, and brought to light the musical options for the eco-inclined, such as those made from 100% recycled material like Cyclotron guitars, and bamboo bodies. Guitar manufacturers have been spurred by an environmental initiative to use sustainable wood, raised awareness about the danger of over harvesting Sitka spruce-- a beautifully resonating wood that warms the ear.

Greenpeace's Music Wood Campaign works to empower instrument makers and musicians to lead the way in sustainable practices. Certified wood, according to the campaign web site, is "Good Wood… not a lower quality wood—in fact the same wood, but better" through sustainable forestry recognized by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Martin & Co, the oldest surviving guitar maker, has made sustainable wood guitars out of hefty cherry and recently produced the entirely FSC-certified D Mahogany 09. Gibson, who works with the Rainforest Alliance and fathered the Les Paul Exotic SmartWood line, has a 2012 goal of sustainable wood in 80% of their guitars.

The importance of sustainable priorities lies not only in instrument makers choosing materials, but musician preference in an increasingly celebrity-centric world. As individuals see musicians pursue options that might be more expensive or limited—putting forth extra efforts towards sustainability— it may potentially stir the desire to make those same changes in the home.

Jack Johnson worked to promote green practices and put in the work to carbon neutralize his tour last year, helping to get people to shift from desiring to be more environmentally aware. The CD he was promoting was recorded in a studio powered by 100% solar power, much like a sun-charged Texas concert series.

Acoustic is all well and good, but sometimes the modern electric sound is imperative. With electric, there's the added carbon burden of required power—so why not solar? There aren't any options besides DIYers out there, like this or that.

Efforts have also been made by record labels, especially by the Warner Music Group, which as worked to reduce emissions, with efforts to streamline waste and packaging.

Warner acquired a stake in a label first known for grunge, Sub Pop Records, that received the Green-e Certification in 2006 for offsetting all of their energy use with renewable credits from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Last year, Green Owl Records fills its concert bus with vegetable oil-- partnering environmental awareness with music in an effort to be a sustainable record label.

The most eco friendly guitar is unarguably a used guitar; however. "The answer isn't one company making an eco friendly guitar. It is getting the world to move to a more eco friendly way of living. We are willing to put our money where out mouth is on this," said Bob Taylor, of Taylor Guitars, in a GearWire interview.

In that same vein, musicians and companies making environmental headway through recognized standards and certifications allow individuals to move closer to actualizing their desires to be "greener." In a world that faces rapidly increasing climate change and hinges upon rainforests, even the smallest changes, like moderating our exotic instrument wood use, can improve the future.

Zaher KarpmusicComment