The Brazilian Collection: The Story of the Forte Dreadnought
Few people have dedicated a decade of their lives to designing, and then crafting a true masterpiece acoustic guitar. Ten years to design, you may ask? How can this be possible? For me, the design starts with one of my deepest passions. Visiting the forests where the tonewood trees grow to ensure the sustainability and viability of each tonewood we use. Next, to study with small custom builders the dynamics of frequency, density, and deflection to achieve the best sound possible. Finally, working with a team of extraordinary craftsmen that have willingly combined their artisan skills with the sound science we have learned to hand-craft the finest acoustic guitars in the world today. The culmination of all these activities has coalesced over the past decade to achieve the build of this guitar. Here’s how it unfolded.
The journey began when I relaunched Bedell Guitars on February 9, 2009. I had found retirement unsuccessful and yearned to follow my passion – learning the art and science of the acoustic guitar. A year and a half later I was able to acquire the Breedlove workshop in Bend, Oregon so I had a collection of craftsmen and my own custom shop. I traveled the world’s rainforests to learn about the life of the trees, to feel their soul, and to ensure we did nothing to harm the world’s forest – certainly never using a clear-cut tree where the forest had been decimated.
I found that every tree is as different as every one of our children, and the forests are ecological communities full of life. Most importantly, I discovered that over hundreds of years lifespan, the wood in each tree varies in its density and frequency significantly – by as much as 30%. One of the keys to building extraordinary acoustic instruments is accepting this variability and accounting for it in every step of the guitar’s creation.
This is the quick background into my journey to create the Bedell Forte Dreadnought, a limited collection of 8 exceptional custom guitars. Each handcrafted with the love and attention to detail to make each one an individual masterpiece. But the story goes deeper. I want to share with you my journey to find the Brazilian Puerta d’Iglesia rosewood, the Adirondack spruce, the Genuine Honduran mahogany, and the African ebony that all work in harmony together in this stunning guitar.
Brazilian Puerta d’Iglesia rosewood: In 2013 I traveled to Madrid, Spain to a tonewood supplier that had formally been a church/cathedral ornament company. Back in the 1950’s and 60’s they imported Brazilian rosewood logs before it was outlawed in 1967. I was able to purchase their entire Brazilian inventory of tonewood sets including several stunning tonewood sets with an incredible figure and pronounced sapwood, named Puerta d’Iglesia. It was so named because of its beauty and preference for use in cathedral doors. It has full CITES documentation with permits, as such the guitars may tour the world. Read more.
Adirondack spruce: The preferred spruce for power and loudness, Adirondack is a stiff and musical tonewood popular in dreadnoughts. We partner with Old Standard Wood for the selective harvest of old-age Adirondack trees from NE America. For the Forte we have hand selected our finest sets not just for their beauty, but their deflection and frequency to pair ideally with the Brazilian back and sides. Read more.
Honduran mahogany: Traveling to the Mayan Biosphere in NE Guatemala we have partnered with a conservation concession that selectively harvests limited mahogany trees each year to ensure the sustainability and prosperity of this significant tropical rainforest. 85 families from the cooperative that benefit from the higher price we pay for tracking each tree from where it is harvested, through the local mill and shipped to us in Bend. Read more.
African ebony: The Congo River Basin Rain Forest is second only to the Amazon in its mass and contributes to the health of our planet. I traveled to Ouesso, Republic of Congo, doing due diligence on CIB, the wood management company that is 100% FSC certified and follows a strict sustainability plan as well as protection zones for the gorillas, chimpanzees, and indigenous people who have claimed this rain forest as their home for centuries.
We selected the finest eight sets of each of these woods to handcraft our most exquisite dreadnoughts. Each hand voiced for superior sound; handcrafted with extraordinary craftsmanship. With only one each available at eight exceptional Bedell dealers across America, you can experience the Forte starting April 1, 2019.
– Tom Bedell