Why Recycle New Zealand Native Timbers?
Solace Instruments is all about recycled NZ timbers. They sound great, look great, tell a story and save NZ's current native forests, all at the same time...
New Zealand has long had a fascination with timber buildings due to its availability. Kauri, rimu, matai and totara were all commonly harvested to build all manner of buildings until they became protected under the 1949 Forestry Act. The timber re-purposed as a Solace Instrument will have most probably started its life 500 to 1000 years ago in a local forest. It would have been felled, milled and spent the last 75 - 150 years inside the wall of an old NZ Villa or farm building.
Electric guitar tonewood is a different discussion compared to that of an acoustic guitar. The timber and construction of an acoustic guitar contribute to almost 100% of its tone. With an electric guitar the timber, style (eg. solid vs semi-hollow), pickups, pickup placement, amplification, bridge, strings etc all build the tonal picture collectively. The most prevalent timber used in Solace guitars is heart rimu, followed by matai, both work well tonally in electric guitars.
Rimu is one of New Zealand’s slower growing trees with a lifespan sometimes of up to 1000 years and the heart timber makes for excellent electric guitar tonewood. Density is not the only factor in tone but it is a good place to start and density-wise, it sits in between alder and mahogany. It sounds warm without loosing mids or highs, similar to alder and allows for excellent sustain. I will often use a piece of blackwood, maple, walnut or beech as a top to add punch and clarity.
Matai is slightly denser than rimu and has a smooth, even texture. While it is a resinous timber, it is still a nice timber to work with. It behaves more like mahogany from a sustain and tone point of view.
At the end of the day, beauty is in the ear of the beholder.
See below for heart rimu and matai amongst a few other well known tonewoods ranked by density.