The tag “rock’n’roll royalty” should really belong to the instruments: the backstory of some world’s best acoustic guitars is frankly breathtaking. Take Bedell’s Antiquity Milagro Parlor guitar. It’s carved from a 400-year-old Brazilian rosewood tree. Wandering troubadours who possess one should make sure they have their “guitar passport” handy, otherwise their instrument could be confiscated by customs officials under trade-in-endangered-species laws.
Many other guitars sold each year (nearly 3m in the US alone) are also made from rare timber. Thanks to musicians’ bias for tropical tonewoods – particularly mahogany, rosewood and ebony – this is a market in which the illegal timber trade can flourish. That’s anything but harmonious when you bear in mind that every two seconds an area of forest the size of a football field is clear-cut by illegal loggers.
Few guitar-makers are embracing eco-friendly innovation, so huge applause, please, for San Francisco’s Blackbird Guitars, made from a bio composite derived from linen fibre. Let’s also hear it for brands that are thinking not just of who plays or makes but who grew the guitar, as in Bedell’s from-seed-to-song programme.
Since certification for tropical woods is complex and often imperfect, the Leonardo Guitar Research Project (LGRP), an international coalition of makers, wants to soften the demand for hardwoods altogether. It promotes local sustainable woods to European musicians.
Cue those musicians insisting that the brightness of mahogany and the ring of ebony is critical to their sound. But guess what happened when LGRP put non-tropical and tropical wood guitars to a blindfold test? The latter was judged to sound just as sweet.
The big picture: Death of Lake Erie?
Dirty business: algae bloom on Lake Erie.
one of the world’s most influential nature photographers – captured this astonishing algal bloom in Lake Erie, Ohio in 2011, we saw the truth about phosphorus fertilisers. A new study from the University of Michigan shows that attempts to cut the amount of phosphorus in the lake are failing. This is not the last giant algal bloom.
Well dressed: Trouser Town in Happy Valley
Grey HebTroCo trousers, looking quite rugged.
HebTroCo trousers: admit you’d quite like a pair.
In the Calder Valley, the picturesque town of Hebden Bridge was once better known for producing menswear than providing the set for Happy Valley.
More specifically it was known as Trouser Town. Brant Richards and Ed Oxley, cycling buddies, are bringing strides back with the launch of hebtro.co (women’s trousers are due later this year).
Despite zero background in fashion, they promise you the best trousers you’ll ever buy, in 100% cotton moleskin (the fabric originally developed as workwear in the region).
What the chaps lack in experience they make up for in enthusiasm for long-lasting, good-quality clothes made by skilled staff in UK factories.
In fact, it all makes perfect sense: ‘We have 40 years’ experience each wearing trousers,’ Brant points out, not unreasonably.