We take a look at some of the best sustainable guitars from brands that care. These eco-friendly guitars prove brands are doing their bit for the environment.

More and more brands are becoming more environmentally conscious, producing a range of sustainable guitars that have as little negative impact on our precious planet, as possible. So today we thought we’d take a look at some of the brands creating instruments with sustainable tonewoods. These eco-friendly guitars are helping to make the world a more environmentally friendly place, overall. This of course, is just a selection of the brands that create guitars either completely from sustainable tonewoods, use eco-friendly tonewoods in their line-up or utilise construction processes that make a positive impact on the environment. So if we’ve missed any, please let us know!

First of all, what are sustainable woods or eco-friendly guitars made of?

The whole idea behind sustainability and sustainable tonewoods is getting the best use of, preserving and replacing a natural resource after you’ve used it. Within the music industry, and instrument manufacturing in particular, brands are relying on sustainable forests more and more. These sustainable forests and the companies that use them have processes in place that ensure trees are replanted, tonewoods are harvested responsibly and that everyone involved is really fighting to protect eco-systems, wildlife and forestry. These sustainable woods are often planted specifically for guitar construction, or are selected from dead or dying trees. Forests are not left exploited and drained of all life! Sustainable woods are essentially farmed responsibly and are often referred to as Alternative tonewoods. Which brings me to my next point…

What is an Alternative Tonewood?

An alternative tonewood is a wood that is not ‘usually’ used on a guitar. They are often unconventional woods that stray from the usual path of Rosewood, Maple and Mahogany. However, brands are working with wood mills and landowners to make great leaps in farming these woods responsibly too.
  • These woods are not listed under the CITES law
  • Are an environmentally responsible wood that helps to protect endangered woods
  • Are unconventional tonewoods (not Rosewood, Mahogany, Maple etc.)

What Are Alternative or Sustainable Tonewoods? Can I have a list?

Sure! Again, alternative tonewoods are those that stray from the “norm” such as Maple, Ebony, Mahogany and Rosewood for example. Here’s a list of a few examples:
  • Figured Ebony
  • Koa
  • Poplar
  • Basswood
  • Khaya
  • Ovangkol
  • Amaranth
  • Korina
  • Redwood
  • Sapele
  • Composite – Such as Richlite

How do I know if my guitar is sustainable?

As a first point of call, we’d always say check with the guitars manufacturer as they’ll have the most up to date information on your guitar. Guitars that have been awarded the Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) official logo and certification are what would be known as sustainable guitars as the FSC ensures anyone associated with them uphold stringent, responsible, sustainable forestry practices. Some eco-friendly guitars can carry the Program for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification (PEFC) logo, which also lets you know that your guitar uses sustainable woods.

Martin Guitars - A Leader In Sustainable Guitars

Martin Guitar is a leader in environmental stewardship and is not only committed to creating some of the best eco-friendly and sustainable guitars on the planet today, but a greener workplace for their employees and a far greener future for us all. The Martin Guitar brand as a whole invests in a myriad of sustainable projects around the globe including their own Biannual Wood Summit which gathers global environmentalists to discuss sustainability in sourcing raw materials. This particular summit which was last held in June 2019, included representatives from National Resources Canada, the World Resource Institute, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Investigation Agency. If that wasn’t enough, Martin Guitar have supported their commitment to the environment by choosing the Rainforest Alliance as their certifying body to achieve Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) Chain-of-Custody certification. The Martin Ed Sheeran Divide Signature Edition Guitar utilises FSC Tonewoods They also source a majority of their tonewoods by actually visiting the plants to ensure their sustainable, FSC certified wood is up to standard. Overall, Martin Guitars state that close to 80 percent of the wood they use has some level of FSC certification when it comes in the door. This is a massive commitment that we can all appreciate. You can read more about their mission HERE. Shop Martin Guitars.

Taylor Guitars - Investing In Sustainable Guitars

Taylor guitars have such a commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly guitars that they have actually invested in responsible wood mills in Cameroon and Hawaii. You can read more about their mission HERE. Taylor were actually given an Award for Corporate Excellence for their work in Cameroon in 2014 which recognised Taylors efforts in “supporting sustainable development, respect for human and labour rights, environmental protection, open markets, transparency, and other democratic values”. In addition to their work in Cameroon, Taylor guitars have started a reforestation initiative in Hawaii and work with Paniolo Tonewoods who help source tonewoods, predominantly Koa, from trees that are dead and dying or utilise residual stands from trees. This means the effect on the planet is minimal, yet you still get a fantastic guitar with a piece of lush Koa tonewood. The Taylor GS Mini-E Koa Electro Acoustic Guitar features unique, sustainable cuts of wood Furthermore, Taylor developed an environmentally friendly polyester guitar finish without any volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are found in nitrocellulose lacquer finishes. They also developed a new neck profile which yielded a 50 percent increase in the amount of necks created from a tree and donate unused wood to be transformed into toys for orphans in Tijuana, Mexico. That’s just a selection of what they do for the planet! Taylor guitars are some of our favourite eco-friendly and sustainable guitars. When you pick one up you can be confident that you’re playing an instrument that is having a positive impact on the planet. Shop Taylor guitars.

Yamaha Guitars - Investing In Our Environment

Yamaha produce a myriad of different instruments including pianos, percussion instruments, woodwind instruments, acoustic guitars and electric guitars. So, they use a LOT of wood. With this in mind, the Yamaha Group established the “Yamaha Group Timber Procurement Policy,” which, according to Yamaha “ indicates the direction of our timber usage in order to better conserve this precious resource, as well as ensure its availability for continued use in the future.” On top of that, Yamaha went on to establish the Yamaha Supplier CSR Code of Conduct, which basically stipulates certain practices regarding the harvesting and trading of timber resources are to be followed by Yamaha suppliers. All Yamaha suppliers are requested to observe these stipulations which means all timber procurement is friendly to the environment and “and the biodiversity within its ecosystems”. The Yamaha FG800 Acoustic in Brown Sunburst Yamaha basically went and created an entire organisation and list of best practices to ensure all the timber they use is farmed responsibly, recycled where necessary and basically used in a sustainable, eco-friendly way. Which, let’s be honest is pretty awesome! This means all the wood used on their Revstar range, their acoustics, drums and pianos has been harvested responsibly! You can read more about their mission HERE. Shop all Yamaha guitars here.

PRS Guitars - Purchasing From Sustainable Sources

PRS Guitars also create some beautifully crafted guitars utilising alternative tonewoods which help to create a greener planet overall. Their commitment to crafting eco-friendly guitars and sustainable instruments is easily seen through their choice of alternative tonewoods. PRS Guitars also state that they “always make sure we are purchasing from sustainable, eco-friendly sources” – so you know you’re in good hands with anything from the Paul Reed Smith Wood Library. The PRS SE Tonare T50EBG Electro-Acoustic Guitar Natural You can see the brands commitment to sustainable tonewoods in their Tonare and Angelus acoustic guitar line. This is one such example, but the use of sustainable Ovangkol for the bodies really helps reduce the environmental impact. Shop all PRS guitars.

Eastcoast Guitars - Eco-Friendly Tonewoods

Eastcoast Guitars also use a variety of sustainable tonewoods in their guitars. The likes of the Eastcoast MKOA Koa Acoustic Guitar utilises Koa, which is an alternative wood, whilst the GS100 series guitars utilise readily available Poplar bodies and Amaranth fingerboards, which are far easier to come by and sustainable. Shop all Eastcoast Guitars. The Eastcoast MKOA-E Koa Electro Acoustic Guitar Natural

Fender Guitars - Leading The Way In Sustainable Tonewoods

As Fender is probably one of the biggest users of Rosewood fingerboards, when the CITES law came into effect we were all curious how they would handle it. Well, it turns out they were way ahead of the curve and had already made impressive moves into the alternative tonewood world. Their use of Pau Ferro instead of Rosewood for their fingerboards was an eyebrow raiser for purists out there, but the results blew us away. The Fender Duo-Sonic Electric Guitar, PF, Surf Green Pau Ferro, looked almost identical to Rosewood and played just as well. The tonewoods used were a great step in the right direction in a greener way of doing things. However, Fender’s commitment went further than changing their tonewoods. The also signed on as partners with the Music Wood Coalition, a project of the leading environmental non-profit Greenpeace. This coalition, which is also made up of a half-dozen tonewood suppliers, makes efforts to protect threatened forest habitats and safeguard the future of trees critical in manufacturing instruments of all kinds. Fender are committed to creating guitars that are greener and have made great steps in utilising sustainable and alternative tonewoods. Shop all Fender Guitars.

Gibson Guitars - Crafting Entirely Sustainable Guitars

Gibson have also signed on as partners with the Music Wood Coalition and have also made considerable steps in becoming greener. The Gibson J-45 Sustainable The brand actually created a range of sustainable guitars. Most notably the Hummingbird Sustainable, the J-45 Sustainable and the L-00 Sustainable (call us to special order these). These models utilise responsibly harvested tonewoods such as Walnut and a richlite fingerboard and bridge which contains materials made from recycled content and pulp derived from responsibly harvested trees. These guitars also utilise a hand rubbed wax finish instead of the usual nitro finishes. This is a far greener process that we can all appreciate. Shop all guitars & bass guitars over at PMT Online today or call in to your local PMT store to try one out for yourself.