Love music? Save the tonewoods. Buy a secondhand guitar.


The future of the guitar and a number of other wooden instruments may be in jeopardy, because many of the forest species that give them their unique sound are in jeopardy. According to the conservation group Fauna & Flora International, more than 200 species of trees are used to make musical instruments, and 70 of those are threatened with extinction. These include mahogany, Honduras cedar and Honduras rosewood, all of which are used in guitars.

In response, major guitar manufacturers like Gibson, C. F. Martin, Fender and Taylor have joined forces with Greenpeace to launch the Music Wood Campaign, an effort to increase the supply of tonewoods certified as responsibly harvested by the Forest Stewardship Council. Gibson and Martin already make guitars from certified woods.

What can you do to help? Search online for vintage or used guitars. Greener than certified wood, recycling an older instrument keeps valuable instruments being played, and they might even sound better. High-quality instruments improve in tone as they age.