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Questions: Lacey Act Amendment

Questions: Lacey act amendment

by Ric Larson, Chuck Erikson, Anne Middleton, and Michael Greenfield

Originally published in American Lutherie #103, 2010



Lucy from the Internet asks:

The Lacey Act amendment that went into effect in 2008 may have great impact on makers, wood merchants, instrument dealers, and the general public. What is it and how will it affect my ability to get the raw materials I need to build musical instruments? What will it mean for importing finished instruments to sell in my store? And what consequences will it have for the supply of wood I have accumulated over the years? I am planning on requiring all wood suppliers I deal with in the future to be able to indicate botanical names and country of origin for every piece of wood I buy. Are they prepared to do this?


Ric Larson from Vikwood in Sheboygan, Wisconsin replies:

We have been requiring all our wood suppliers to comply with the Lacey Act for the past year in anticipation of the actual effective date (April 1, 2010). In addition we have asked them to go back and send us copies of all their nation’s government permits for harvesting, cutting, and exporting the various species they sent us during the past two years. Fortunately we have only the most scrupulous and honest suppliers so this was an easy, albeit time-consuming, job. I am by no means any kind of expert regarding the Lacey Act and struggle to find answers. We don’t know how to account for the inventory that dates back in some cases almost twenty years for some of the slower-moving species. It would seem to make sense that this inventory would not be affected by the law since it predated the effective date, but we don’t really know.

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Questions: Douglas Fir Stradivari

Questions: Douglas Fir Stradivari

by R.E. Bruné

Originally published in American Lutherie #102, 2010

 

James Condino of Ashville, North Carolina asks:

I used to have an article from a guitar magazine in the ’80s about one of the Stradivari guitars. The article claimed that the top was made of Douglas fir. How likely is that?


R.E. Bruné of Evanston, Illinois
answers:

In reference to Stradivari using Douglas fir, this is a virtual impossibility. The wood is not native to Europe, and was not in commercial circulation in Europe in Stradivari’s day. Perhaps the confusion arises from the nomenclature of wood in which Americans tend to call most conifer soundboards of European origin “spruce” and the British use “pine” to refer to the same materials. In actuality, most are of the genus Abies or true fir, of which there are many varieties native to Europe such as Abies pectinata and Abies alba. (Google these and other species for more information.) Douglas fir is not a true fir, being of the genus Pseudotsuga. Picea is the Latin name for true spruces which are also used for instrument soundboards, of which there are also many varieties. All of these are difficult to positively identify once they are on a completed instrument, especially one that has aged for several centuries. ◆

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Wood Salvaging Down Under

Wood Salvaging Down Under

by Des Anthony

Originally published in Guild of American Luthiers Quarterly, Volume 6 #2, 1978 and Lutherie Woods and Steel String Guitars, 1998



Woodstock. No, not that Woodstock, but a one-shop, no-houses Woodstock in North Queensland, Australia. At last the moment had arrived. It was a typical hot summer’s day and I was armed with the necessary tools. There was still that feeling of uncertainty in my mind that what I was to do was totally criminal.

Sharing the shed with the ’dozers and tractors was an old upright Victor piano. Nobody wanted it anymore so I was able to carry out my plan. At home, our towns usually have a festival each year, and in that festival procession there is always an old car whereupon, for a fee, you may smash with a sledge hammer. Well, I wasn’t in that kind of mood, but I was still going to reduce this piano to an unrecognizable mess, but, I hope with a more dignified ending.

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Questions: Quartersawn Wood

Questions: Quartersawn Wood

by Alan Ollivant

Originally published in American Lutherie #74, 2003 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Seven, 2015



John Forcade of Poulsbo, Washington asks:

I have acquired six large maple rounds and would like to quartersaw them and let them dry out for a few years. They are about 45" long and 3' in diameter.

I am not an experienced woodworker so I am looking for some specific directions on how to quartersaw. I would assume I am going to have to split the rounds into fourths by hand and then cut a board off one face, then cut the next board off the opposite face until each quarter is completely cut? Am I on the right track? Also, once I split each round open, how can I determine the quality of the maple? Am I going to be primarily looking for figure? If the wood is good and I keep it, how long should I let it dry before using it? Should it be kept in a controlled environment from day one?

I also have some koa from the big island. What differentiates quality koa from average koa?

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Questions: Ebony Tailpiece Cracks

Questions: Ebony Tailpiece Cracks

by Ted Megas

Originally published in American Lutherie #73, 2003 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Seven, 2015



Susan from cyberspace asks:

I have a new custom-made archtop and the ebony tailpiece has developed a few very thin/small cracks. Should I use lemon oil on it? I have a humidifier in the room, but it seems impossible to keep the humidity at a constant level.


Ted Megas of Portland, Oregon responds:

I would be concerned that the structure of the tailpiece is undermined. A cracked tailpiece is potentially a very dangerous situation, since it’s under a lot of tension. I’ve even heard of tailpieces exploding. Lemon oil will neither fix the cracks nor prevent further cracking. You need to be in touch with the maker of the guitar or a reputable repairperson.

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