I love everything about wood…
The color, the play of light on grain, the smell, texture, resonance, all these aspects are part of the joy in working with wood.
I also love the woods of northern Minnesota where I make my home and get much of my inspiration. My work is there and so are the trees that give us life and from which many of my guitars are crafted. My favorite guitar, The Ghost, is made entirely of wind thrown trees from my own yard.
Native Wood from the Boreal Forest
The woods I prefer to use are northern boreal forest natives which are sustainable, available and beautiful. Curly birch, birds-eye poplar, white and black spruce, sugar maple and aspen have proven to be every bit as good as the traditional rainforest hardwoods when used properly. These woods lend a sense of place and help to share my love of the boreal forest with others.
Much of the wood I use is from trees I have harvested or from local sources. Some is salvaged from the local lumber mill and even the occasional firewood pile.
Traditional tonewoods: mahogany, rosewood, ebony and mountain spruces are wonderful but in limited supply and carry a high environmental price. As the world gets smaller and those traditional woods become environmental liabilities, I feel compelled to use what is close at hand whenever possible and I never feel like I am settling for second best. I have some really beautiful traditional woods and will use them if it is appropriate for the instrument.
Another unusual material I use on some guitars is deer and caribou antler for saddles, nuts and tuner knobs. The antlers are natural sheds and make an excellent substitute for cow bone or ivory. They would be impossible to use commercially because of the variation in structure. But I can get the few pieces I need that are solid and acoustically superb.