About my choice of woods…
Hello everybody, I want to answer questions and reply to comments I receive about the use of indigenous woods.
I do not want to be fashionable, nor to engage in demagoguery. I use these woods because I find them beautiful! When I considered using these types of woods I had to face a few half-amused half-mocking looks… As far as the almost systematic use of precious woods is concerned (a qualifying adjective linked to the trade in wood that is made of it), I know that Nature has no plan and there aren’t any woods made for guitars!
Indeed, manufacturers having to produce in large quantities are the ones who chose a few specific woods. Of course the mechanical aspect matters for the sound but hundreds of trees have the same properties.
The main qualities of an instrument come from the instrument maker who makes it and from the musician who plays it, that’s all! To think that a violin can only be good if it’s made from flamed maple or that a guitar has to be made from rosewood is only important (in my opinion) to justify prices that can be kind of stunning, depending on the cost of these materials. Everyone is free to choose…
As for me, I think that woods such as rowan, sorb, apple tree, elm, beam-tree, apricot tree, peach tree, locust tree… are very beautiful, so do my customers (that is good, I make the instruments for them). Of course these woods require upstream experiences to understand how to make the drying of the woods, processing, use and be able to make lifetime warranties for instruments (my own lifetime), but the results are worth it.
Mainly for too reasons:
- My customers come to get unique pieces… why not made of unique woods?
- No-one knows these woods, now new woods = new sounds!
- An instrument maker has a rather limited use of wood and a log may last several years, so to look for it, to choose it, and have it sawn is very rewarding and exciting
- I think it’s especially exquisite to make these woods regain its former nobility.
I don’t think I’m “wacky”, I’m just lucky to have a job that allows me to be myself…
Philippe Berne, October 2010
NB: I’m not “anti-exotic woods”… as I’m writing this, an ebony fingerboard is sticking down on the workbench…