The sound of a guitar is influenced by the type of wood used to build it. Most guitars are made of mahogany, alder, ash, basswood, walnut and spruce. Some timbers used in guitar making are becoming rare and expensive, and replacements are needed from a more ecologically sustainable wood that still has good acoustic qualities. Paulownia wood has been used to make both electric and acoustic guitars, and it appears to fit the bill.
Paulownia is a deciduous hardwood. The timber is mainly a pale blond color but can also be silver-gray or light brown. It has a straight grain that takes stain very well and can easily be made to look like walnut or mahogany. Paulownia wood is naturally resistant to termites and is rot resistant. Japanese and Koreans have used paulownia wood to make musical instruments for hundreds of years, as it is light, strong and has good resonance properties.
Paulownia is native to China and grows very rapidly. Since the 1990s, it has also been grown in Australia. Timber can be harvested at seven years, while woods like mahogany need 40 years or more before they are ready for harvest. Once a paulownia tree is harvested, it regenerates from existing rootstock. These characteristics of fast growth and easy regeneration make it an ideal choice for timber growers, providing low cost wood that is ecologically sustainable.
Paulownia Electric Guitars
Several electric guitars on the market have a paulownia body. Well-known models include the Dean Vendetta XM electric guitar and the Douglas SI-13 HB. These are lightweight guitars because paulownia is such a light timber, which makes them comfortable to play for extended periods of time. They have been reviewed as having excellent resonance. Other models such as the Dean ML XM have a paulownia body with a veneer of mahogany over it.
Paulownia Acoustic Guitars
Mariner Guitars released a series of eco-friendly guitars in 2010 that are made with paulownia wood. These Vertys models combine traditional design and craftsmanship with sustainable materials and have no plastic bindings or fittings. They are lightweight guitars with good sound quality. A variety of guitar builders, or luthiers, are also making custom-built paulownia acoustic guitars and will build an instrument to your desired specifications.
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