In January 2017, the new CITIES regulations on all Dalbergia (rosewood) specimens was put into action. This meant that no Rosewood could be exported without the knowledge (via certificate and a payment) of the government. This included things that were already made out of Rosewood even before January 2017 - guitars very much not exempt. All Dalbergia genus woods, including African Blackwood, Cocobolo, and Bubinga were included in the appendix. This meant the acquisition of these tonewoods became suddenly very tricky, and subsequently there was a price rise in many of the woods named by the government.
The CITIES law was put in place, ultimately, to protect these species from extinction. To design our guitars to be environmentally friendly and fulfil Rams’s principle, then, we must embrace the search for materials that co-ordinate sustainability and aesthetic, quality of sound and resourcefulness. Indeed, there have already been materials that accommodate these demands; the company that produces Rocklite, for example. Rocklite create man-made composite alternatives to endangered woods such as East Indian Rosewood (Rocklite Sundari) and Ebony (Rocklite Ebano). Rocklite Ebano has been used in a handful of Tom Sands Guitars for fingerboards, bridges and bindings, and it has proved basically indiscernible from real ebony. Clients and players testify they also cannot notice a difference. Economically friendly, high quality, many may see little or no sacrifice in moving away from the endangered woods in favour of Rocklite’s alternative.
10. Good design is as little design as possible.
‘Less is more’. Personally, I would like to work towards a simple, uncluttered aesthetic, and I’m experimenting with ways to achieve this. I would like to build a guitar with no rosette, no binding, or anything unnecessary, eventually.
Thanks for reading, and please leave a comment if you have any thoughts to share on Rams’s principles.