A Forest is a Community

I think of a forest as a community, a family of species in a neighborhood. Mature trees, seedlings, sprouts provide shelter and nourishment for wildlife, insects, and an host of micro-organisms. Entire ecosystems thrive among families of trees, enduring times of sun, rain, wind, heat, cold, drought, and infestations. Forests are alive and interactive.

Each species of tree has its own experience. Some, like the magnificent Sitka spruce, live to be 500 years or longer. The Honduran mahogany, as long as 350 years. Bigleaf maple, 100 to 300 years. Like our children, no tree is the same. The living experience of each tree is its own.

It is this appreciation for forests that prohibits Bedell Guitars from supporting clearcutting. We salvage dead trees whenever possible. When it’s not, we individually harvest single trees in a manner that limits our impact on the rest of the forest community. Bedell Guitars not only shares and respects a relationship with the forests that give us music, but holds reverent the entire forest community that raised each tree. We call our ethos “Seed to Song”.

Imagine the lifespan of a 500 year-old Sitka spruce. In human terms, these trees were growing before Captain Cook encountered Alaska, were seedlings as the Spanish fought the Mayans, and were mature when Lewis and Clark made their first visit to Oregon. These old-growth trees represent centuries of growth. They are witnesses to human history and the elements.

When we acquire one of these magnificent trees, we respect its individuality. Appreciating variability in experience, we study each tree’s character to maximize the contribution each tonewood set contributes to the new life of the tree as music wood.

Stiffness, weight, density, speed of sound, frequency . . . there is no way the wood at the base of the living tree, supporting the weight of its 300-foot body, will be the same as the character of the wood at the top of the forest’s canopy. Determining where it will give the most beautiful music, carefully deciding which other woods to pair it with are mindful steps of our process.

We handcraft the most efficient musical instruments possible from each set of music wood from each individual tree. This is why we hand tune every Bedell Guitar in our Brazilian Collection, Angelica Collection and Bedell Wildfire Series.

Respect is at the root of what we do.

– Tom Bedell