Save the Sitka, Save the Guitar
Over the years, Taylor has invested substantial resources to support sustainable forestry practices around the world. One particular at-risk tonewood species that affects the entire acoustic guitar industry is Sitka spruce, the most prevalent tonewood for acoustic guitar tops. Most of the supply comes from the coastal rainforest region of Southeastern Alaska, on private land that has seen aggressive clear-cutting over the years. Although the guitar industry is not a major consumer of Sitka spruce (American guitar companies together use about 150 spruce logs a year, whereas the average sawmill might cut that much in a single day, says Bob Taylor), the wood has been steadily depleted by other industries, most notably the housing industry in Asia.
In 2007, Taylor joined together with several other major guitar manufacturers, including Martin, Fender, and Gibson, to become members of the Greepeace-founded MusicWood Coalition. One of the organization’s goals is to raise awareness of the depletion of old-growth spruce and, more specifically, to convince Sealaska, a native-held corporation that owns much of the land where the spruce clear-cutting has been happening, to adopt more sustainable logging practices before it’s too late.
When a group of documentary filmmakers — who, not surprisingly, also love music and play guitar — heard about the threat to Sitka spruce and the future of acoustic guitars, they felt instantly compelled to make a documentary to amplify the story and help save the Sitka spruce forest. They contacted members of the MusicWood Coalition, who welcomed the participation. A film crew eventually joined members of the coalition on a trip to Alaska, and they’ve continued to work over the past three years to complete the documentary project, titled Musicwood, relying on a mix of self-funding and private donations. They’re currently trying to raise additional funds to finish filming and pay for post-production editing.
If you’d like to read more about the project and possibly offer a donation, check out the Musicwood page on kickstarter.com (a funding platform for creative projects). You can watch a trailer for the film, which includes comments from Bob Taylor, and see their Kickstarter campaign video.
twitter: @MUSICWOODDoc (use #musicwood)