Richlite Curse

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Milspec, Jul 1, 2019.

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  1. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    I must be speaking a different language or something because nobody seems to understand my point here. Either people are not following the whole thread (likely) or just missing the details found in the conversation. Maybe that is my fault, but the irritation isn't just that Godin has switched to richlite, it is that the trend is growing to where all of them are switching. Soon, there will be no options left. It is also not an attack on the product richlite, it is an objection against the use of any fake wood product like that for fretboards.

    It is a negative trend in my view and one that I do not support. Not in acceptance, not in concept, and certainly not with my money.
     
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  2. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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  3. awasson

    awasson Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    As long as fender is making one piece maple necks, there will be an alternative.
     
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  4. fenderchamp

    fenderchamp Tele-Afflicted

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  5. stanger

    stanger Tele-Meister

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    Price of the material doesn't matter when none of the natural materials are no longer better for the purpose than the man-made stuff.

    The materials are a secondary cost to the labor costs in guitar manufacturing anyway. There are many guitars that are sacrificed daily to mistakes in labor that go straight into the shop furnace because correcting the labor mistake is more expensive than the rare wood the mistake was made on.

    We all get to see the guitars that made it through the shipping doors, but we never see the ones that don't. The number of failures that are cut up and destroyed might shock some people, especially when a new design hits the market.

    I have fewer objections to burning up a piece of man-made material than I do trashing some rare hardwood, and even fewer if the hardwood cant be as reliably good as a fingerboard than the man-made stuff is. I prefer ebony for its hardness and smoothness, but if Richlite feels the same and has better durability, the color is unimportant to me. Black is black is black. The only problem with Richlite I expect I would have is if it doesn't stay black over time.

    But since the stuff isn't new, and has been around long enough to show the durability of its color. I don't expect even the color would be a problem for me. I want a new instrument to have the best quality materials that are available to be used, because the best materials deliver the best performance.

    That's why I have no hangups about a guitar that's finished in man-made polyurethane as opposed to natural nitrocellulose lacquer. Both are equally good for the purpose. If the poly stays good and the lacquer doesn't, why stick to the worst choice? The tradition for lacquer won't last if it's no longer worthy of its purpose.
    regards,
    stanger
     
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  6. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I prefer thin lacquer on guitars, even more so on acoustics. Actual plastic would work as a fretboard too, so would asbestos. I don't want that stuff on my guitars though. They can use whatever they like but if they expect me to pay more for real wood due to them manipulating the pricing structure then I will buy from another manufacturer that doesn't play that game and can offer me a quality guitar using the materials I like for a better price.

    Martins whole deal is based around inflated priced instruments due to tradition/ heritage yet here they are using synthetic products that you wouldn't want to inhale if they were burnt as they would be toxic. The fact that they still offer the woods they claim are at threat if you just pay more says it all to me.

    I don't by vinyl shoes or nylon t shirts either.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
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  7. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    I just returned from a last minute grocery run and was reminded of another story somewhat related.

    Back in about '91, I was stationed in North Carolina and me and few buddies hit the local Taco Hell on payday for a gorging of non-military food. Anyway, I ordered a couple of soft tacos, but the flavor seemed "a little off"...even for Taco Hell. Further inspection, the lettuce was in 2 shades and the textures were a little different as well. When I contacted the store manager, he told me that there was a lettuce shortage due to some drought so they were substituting half of the lettuce with sweet cabbage. He went on about how the two vegetables were nearly the same and that it was actually better for you anyway.

    Then the manager told me that I was the first one to complain about it. He also said that they were considering just keeping the substitution in the future since everyone seemed okay with it until my complaint.

    This wood substitute is much like the sweet cabbage on my taco. Sure, it works the same and most people would not even notice nor care about the change, but I like lettuce on my tacos and I like real materials on my guitar....especially on the fretboard.

    (True Story)
     
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  8. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think plenty of people have died from inhalation of fumes from wood based fires too. We are really stretching the arguments now.

    This is a debate that only has meaning as it relates to severely depleted or near extinct species of exotic woods. To argue against the concept of sustainable innovation is the ultimate expression of the arrogant, self important, self centred, ‘it’s all about me’ consumer that marketers strive to develop.

    One has been truly played if you think cutting down the last of the rosewood or ebony means the end of quality instruments. Demanding they do it anyway, to satisfy a personal desire for a ‘traditional’ instrument is entitled behaviour of the very worst kind.

    Earth cannot support a population that thinks like that.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
  9. Guitardvark

    Guitardvark Tele-Meister

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    its make me think about other things this plastic wood does..


     
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  10. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    You must not be aware that only the Brazillian Rosewood is actually in short supply AND not due to guitar production...not even close. There are well over 100 species of Rosewood and most of them are no more rare and endangered than the dandelion in your yard. There are also hundreds of other alternative wood species that would work for fretboards without turning to man-made engineered materials. The arrogance and self-centered position is telling everyone else that they MUST accept your position and go with fake wood products when the facts don't actually support the necessity.
     
  11. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes. There will be no more options left when the last ebony or rosewood tree is cut down. Any demand, however small fuels the black markets and the illegal logging.

    Your argument does not hold water IMHO. It’s just arguing for a fashion at one moment in time as the one immutable option.

    We need to look at alternatives... both SUSTAINABLE natural wood sources and synthetic, that can sustain instrument manufacture long term. Of course that will happen in the messed up reality of corporate worlds and marketing but even that does not discount the bigger issue.

    I like the look of my maple necked Ibanez. The vast majority of their guitars are still rosewood but exploring the new options fuel the opportunities for changes to the presiding fashion.

    3359BC69-CACE-4546-9822-6F552CB549EF.jpeg
     
  12. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    Why would there ever be a "last tree" when harvesting includes re-planting in excess of what is being cut down? The logging industry results in a net gain of timber, not the reduction of it...at least in many countries, not all. Brazilian rosewood usage in guitars has been rare since '69 when it first landed on the restriction list. The industry has been using Indian, Madagascar, and other rosewoods since then and they were only added to the restriction list to prevent China from sneaking out Brazilian species. There is no reason to conclude that there will ever be a depleated resource of available tree growth.

    This is not a necessary change, but if they market it hard enough, people will just go to sleep and learn to accept it. We as guitar owners / players have been responding that way for much too long.
     
  13. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Afflicted

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    Rosewood harvesting in Madagascar has been an absolute ecological disaster. The rosewood isn't replanted, the land is repurposed for palm oil production which is a much more profitable use of the land than replanting timber that takes half a century to grow. Madagascar has a unique ecosystem with thousands of species that only exist there and without the traditional habitat most of those species are in trouble. The guitar industry glommed onto it for a while because it's a great looking wood that does seem to have some qualities of Brazilian RW, but really at this point it needs to be left for the lemurs to enjoy whilst there still are some lemurs.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
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  14. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    I am not a wood worker, but rosewood is grown in several regions naturally (India and Pakistan come to mind) so one region should not dictate the situation. Rosewood also grows 3-4 feet per year which places them as one of the faster growing species...much like Silver Maples in the US so they could be re-populated just like the logging industry does in the US and Canada. The fact that logging companies in other areas act irresponsible should not be the final word on the matter. Besides, there are other options out there beyond just rosewood or ebony in wood world without choosing to go with an engineered material made of compressed paper pulp and resins. What is next, a declaration on maples so we can replace the necks with fiberglass?

    The bottom line remains to me that a guitar should remain made out of real wood. I wouldn't want to see brass instruments being made out of a gold tone plastic due to a perceived shortage of brass either. Guitar builders can and should do better.
     
  15. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    You do know they can plant more trees right?
    This is about money management and maximising profits more than it is about the end of the road for Rosewood. If the environment was the main concern these businesses wouldn't be pushing for constant growth of production and sales or shipping their products all over the globe or asking up to a years pay for a guitar.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
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  16. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    My concern here from an environmental perspective is how much energy (in BTUs) is required to make the Richlite material per neck? This is the inconvenient math of today that we need to assess. I don't fully understand where over a half century of guitars has ended up (although, some "family " pics on this forum give some hints;)), but there have been quite a few built and perhaps this "Richlite" issue is an indication that we are getting past the point of sustainably supplying the burgeoning world population growth with new guitars ... among other consumer goods.:cry:
     
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  17. Lowthesd

    Lowthesd TDPRI Member

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    I just had my Martin D-16 with richlite fingerboard refretted (with gold wire) and my Luthier said it went super smooth, he was surprised at how easy the richlite was to work with, he and I joked about there’s more hub-bib than reality. It’s a great durable material and refretted with ease.
    I have rosewood on one Tele, and on my Taylor, and a Maple Tele, and Richlite on my Martin. (Won’t talk about the wood fingerboards on my Ukuleles, and Mandolins). It works and feels great, no issues.
    My two cents based on my experience with it.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  18. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    Okay, so the government in Madagascar is corrupt, address that and not the lawful end user. Look at India Rosewood which is what guitars have been using since 1970, they have a net growth of 1% forrested areas in the last 5 years. Hell, they burn rosewood for fuel and use it for flooring, and even drywall!! Guitar production is a drop in the bucket compared to their usage annually. I find it very difficult to believe that the collective influence of all the guitar manufacturers could not broker responsible harvesting of India Rosewood...or any one of a 100 different similar species of timber. The switch to a material like richlite isn't about saving the planet, it is about saving their bottom line as it is far easier and cheaper to use such a material. Accepting that will only create a slippery slope where they will start replacing other aspects of instruments for the same reason.....none of them good.
     
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  19. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Afflicted

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    I think the point is that the international timber trade and the way we use resources is a huge, huge topic with lots of issues to address - you brought Madagascar up, and that country's a perfect example of what CITES is fighting against and why rosewood is in the cross hairs. Yes, some rosewood can be sustainably farmed in some countries, but rosewood harvesting in other countries is a disaster, so we're going to have to live in the reality that whilst we need to address the bad stuff, there might also be consequences to how we're able to use all rosewood.

    And none of the guitar makers mentioned in the thread are saying they're not planning to use rosewood or ebony for many years into the future, because that's not how they're seeing it - what they're doing is substituting one material for another on budget models where it helps keep costs down and saves having to do the reams of paperwork required to move rosewood products in and out of the country.
     
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