Wood Used in Fender Guitars Facing Shortage
Starting in the 1950's, Fender Musical Instruments embraced a type of wood known as Swamp Ash to use in the making of the iconic Stratocasters and Telecasters. Their time for having access to Swamp Ash is coming to an end, and it's not because of a better product.
Swamp Ash trees have thin-walled cells with large gaps between them, making for a low density wood that gives opportunity for vibration. It didn't hurt that the wood was easily found and cheap as well.
Musicians have taken a love to the sound Fender guitars get from the wood, such as Muddy Waters, Keith Richards and Chrissie Hynde.
In 2020, Fender said they're going to have to ween themselves off of the Swamp Ash and reserve the specialty wood for their high-end vintage models only.
They blame the lack of wood on longer periods of flooding along the lower-Mississippi where the wood as found, as well as an invasive tree-boring beetle that are also killing the trees.
Music Man, another manufacturer, raised concerns as well last year, calling 2019 "one of the worst harvests in recent history.”
Swamp Ash is adapted to flooded areas, but when the water doesn't go away, it poses problems.
“If the water stays on for months, at a time when the seedlings just don't have their heads above the water, they might have trouble surviving,” Brady Self, a forestry specialist says.
The Emerald Ash Borer beetle issue comes from the larvae that tunnel through the tree, disrupting its ability to transport water and nutrients.
We talked with Thad Shumaker of Shumaker Guitar Works, who builds guitars and end up being the expert on every type of wood used in guitars.
He also announced that Shumaker Guitar Works is moving to a bigger and better location soon, at 1501 Harrison Street in Davenport.
Read more at Scientific American