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Is your bass environment-friendly?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bas_anton, Aug 8, 2007.

  1. I was thinking about this the other day.
    I own a Lakland Skyline and a Peavey Cirrus. These basses has probably travelled more than i have done in my life.

    My skyline, correct me if I´m wrong, has been send to Korea to be assembled and then back to USA to be checked. And then it has travelled over the Atlantic to my home in Sweden.
    That´s not so good from the Earths point of view.

    Then there are many instruments that are build from exotic woods. Which probably has been taken from a 3rd world country to the manufactor and then to a dealer.

    I don´t want to be the boring guy. I like my basses, they are in many way my tools and toys. They help me to get money and joy.

    But I wonder what we as bassplayers and humans can do to make a difference for our world and people around the globe. For example the man in Africa who chopped down that nice piece of bubinga.

    Here at Talkbass, many musicians are gathered a perhaps we know or can find a way of making a small differnce that has a great impact of our future. Share your thoughts!!!
  2. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    I know many US builders use renewable woods from "reputable" wood suppliers. But who knows what really goes behind doors. Wood changes hands so many times from the lumber company to the final instrument builder. . .

    By judging production of most goods, I doubt that there is any kind of control in Asia.

    Buying cheap Asian instruments at Guitar Center has the same negative impact in the enviroment than buying cheap Asian toys at WalMart.

    Although I have to say that basswood, agathis, maple, ash and what they use for rosewood, seems to be plentiful and renewable around the world, and poly finishes are not that toxic, like nitro is, for example.
  3. It is somewhat opening a can of worms but a valid consideration.

    If, like most of us, we buy a mass produced bass there is little we can do about the transportation. Buying from a local (and usually expensive) luthier is not an option for many.

    Bass makers, large and small, could make sure they are buying their woods from suppliers that ensure cutting is done in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner. Other wood users, large and small, are adopting this practice.

    I can't speak for the other bass components. Then there are the amps, effects, etc. to consider.
  4. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    You need a graphite bass.
  5. IngerAlb


    May 11, 2007
    There's a hell lot more wood going into a house (let's say), than in a bass guitar; synthetic materials sound like crap, they can't simply match the tone of wood. And that pretty much sums up my point of view. I'm sorry, but all this eco stuff si going way too far, because honestly any personal effort will make no difference as long as the big industry players continue to eat all Earth's resources.
  6. I think the agathis tree just went on the endangered species list.
  7. Well, let's lighten your conscience a little.

    The Lakland Skyline is made overseas, and only final inspection done stateside (to what REAL benefit I wonder) so your bass only made two trips. Now couple that with the possibility that said bass travelled to the states with a couple hundred of its brothers and sisters, and the cost per instrument and impact in total is greatly reduced. Think about that, and the fact that the carrier of your bass is also probably huffing a few other thousand items for whatever and the impact is even less. Maybe the bass flew, maybe it was on a boat.

    I dare not negate the impact of the transport and its impact on the environment, but in the grand scheme, it's really not all that much.

    Now people FLYING to different countries for meetings they could easily accomplish over teleconference? That is an entirely different sitch.
  8. When I was a film photographer (and I may return to that) I worked with silver salts and the plethora of toxic chemicals that the commercial photographic industry consumed in tonnage daily. Silver can only be gotten from the ground by mining the planet, which is a very destructive process to the earth and the individuals who must do that work. Snap-shooters were a far greater part of the negative impact than professionals, but I certainly did my share of damage creating my art and making my living. It bothered me quite a bit. Digital photography is certainly an improvement, but it does not produce an archival information base. Still, it is much better this way.

    Let me encourage the moderators to let this thread stand even though it may brush upon the political and perhaps the moral territory that is generally "verboten"

    As musicians we are part of an ancient heritage that preserves the oral history of our kind. We write new songs about our observations in this time and repeat songs that are about times past. In the stone age culture of the Celts, Bards were second only to Druids in cultural importance and preservations. They were the second highest class of persons. Is it any different today when one considers the cultural status of Robert Johnson, Beethoven, Jimi Hendrix, or others like that? As we ask if what we do and the toll it takes on the planet is worth the sacrifice, consider the loss of culture if we did not.

    Take as an example someone like Ken Smith. Take a tour of his operation if you will. You will see sustainable practices of luthierie throughout, and beautiful instruments that will last several hundred years, possibly to be adapted to sustainable energy sources as time goes on and we are forced to be better energy stewards. I point to Ken, not because he is unique, but because his is a good example to follow. So on the manufacturing side, the use of wood that is not rare, that can be readily replaced and that is fully used and not wasted is certainly something to consider as a consumer of bass guitars. Considering the small amount of resources consumed in building a bass, there are so many things we do that are much more wasteful than building and playing musical instruments, but still, we should do our part to minimize the impact if we can.

    Directly addressing the issue of the energy cost of the global trade that puts wood from America into a factory in Bulgaria, or somewhere else and then marketed to buyers in another country perhaps, sure, there is a lot of criss-crossing of oceans that could be avoided. But that is the economics of cheap, readily available fuel for shipping. If we ran out of fuel, the shipping would still happen, just with port cities being more important than cities like Atlanta, which just have an airport. Shipping would be by clipper ship again perhaps. Those of us who live past the last drops of oil may indeed see these things.

    So I bring up a few things that could be books in a couple of paragraphs. How are bass guitars any different from other things? In general, try to preserve whatever gifts the earth has given to you, musical instruments included. When you build an instrument, make it the best way you can (like Ken Smith or Stradivari) so that replacing it is not an issue. When you purchase an instrument, try to do so in an informed and responsible way. Try to make the instrument last, and repair, restore, and preserve when these are the options. Support and encourage individual luthiers and recognize the important investment you make in this planet when you purchase and choose to play a truly fine instrument. It takes no less wood to build a Wishnevsky than a Smith or Ritter, so quality is part of the equation of waste and so is skill.

    And learn and play songs like "Jack-a-Roe" and "Greensleeves" and "Danny Boy", "Peggy-O", "Abraham, Martin, & John";- write some songs about 2001 and the wars, trials, tribulations, joys, victories of the human spirits that you see around you. That is your responsibility as a Bard. The earth will give you whatever instruments you need from its' forests if you are the good stewards of them.

    Also, learn to play acoustic instruments. Play them whenever the opportunity presents itself. These are the instruments that will last and that do the least harm. And if you fell a tree to build your double bass, use a Swedish axe. As far as I know, these are the most environmentally friendly axes being made in the world.
  9. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    There was recently a thread in this regard with lots of great info. Check the forums using the search feature!
  10. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    That's just your personal opinion: not wromg per se, but just an opinion. If I could choose and have one bass it would be my XL2. Nothing is even remotely close (in my collection of 35+ basses).
  11. Fraxture


    May 25, 2007
    Yeah, it's an odd world. There are so many things that large companies do that are just plain stupid or ridiculous.

    I am a Network Engineer, and a consultant. I setup a network for a German owned company here in the United States that was cutting down trees and shipping them back to Germany to make wood products. So it happens all over sad to say.
  12. phallpdx


    Jun 2, 2007
    YEEAH... Because graphite is renewable, and wood isn't... :confused:
  13. eotpr


    Jun 25, 2007
    Amen Bro.:bag:
  14. AnRK


    May 17, 2007
    Sorry I don't like to be insulting toward people I don't know but that's an entirely retarded way of looking at it.

    People who say stuff like that are generally the kind of people who don't like the idea of supermarkets destroying local business but still shop there when they could go a little out their way to find an alternative. Granted not everything is achievable in the current business climate unless your pretty well off (I know I'm not) and you have to make some concessions but it's certainly pessimistic.

    I dunno where you guys are from and what the attitudes toward environmental issues are where you are but it's certainly gaining recognition here (the U.K.) and it's having a positive effect on people. I'm on no side of the global warming debate but when it comes to the worlds resources it's pretty plain and simple, if we don't watch how we manage our materials were $£^%^ed.

    Stuff like this isn't difficult to make an impact on even if you don't have a great deal of money for pre-packaged alternatives. Send a pissed off email to Fender. Ask them where they source their wood, why they send guitars halfway across the world to destroy and back again which is gradually destroying American industry, and what they're going to do about cos it's not on. Industry can't shun away from stuff like this forever and even if they want to they're gradually recognising that it's not feasible to operate like that if they want to continue to prosper. I can't give many examples but I seem to remember Gibson doing an exotic woods series that was sourced sustainably and was partially charitable helping this particular group develop.

    At the end of the day it's not faceless organisations doing all these thing it's people.
  15. contakt321


    Jul 31, 2006
    New York, NY
    +1 to AnRK - very well stated.

    Additionally, I think we should all try to find as many ways as possible to sustain the earth, from things as small as turning the lights off when you leave the room, to trying to purchase products made from/and by ethical sources.

    This issue is a growing one and for good reason. Consumption and pollution are growing and we need to do something about it. Look at companies like Iceland or Japan, they have conservation much more ingrained in their society than say oh...America, the worlds LARGEST consumer and polluter.
  16. "At the end of the day it's not faceless organisations doing all these thing it's people." - AnRK ( male, 21 yrs., owns a Fender, lives in Leeds, England ?)

    "Look at companies like Iceland or Japan, they have conservation much more ingrained in their society than say oh...America, the worlds LARGEST consumer and polluter."- contakt 321 (no profile other than "male")

    Sometimes I do wonder if the USA is a company or a country, but the USA is definitely not all of "America" which also includes Brazil, Venezuela, Canada, just to name a few. For the sake of meaningful discussion, please respect other sovereign nations in the Americas, and place blame accurately where it is due.

    If we agree that individuals can make a difference, then perhaps we should avoid painting societies made up of individuals with such a broad brush?

    And if at the end of the day it is people whose minds we need to change, why mention faceless geographic regions or even faceless countries? If I am a citizen, natural born, in the USA, and trying to make a difference here in my city, Atlanta, foregoing air conditioning in 100 degree Fahrenheit weather, trying to build a passive solar studio and home from renewable and recycled or reusable materials, don't you run the risk of polarizing or alienating me due to an accident of the geography of my birth? Admittedly, we face an uphill battle in preserving the environment for the good of everyone particularly in the USA, but there are some who are trying very hard and making slow progress.

    For instance in 2001, I ran for City Council here on a substantially environmental platform. Mostly I was interested in properly addressing the repair of the City sewer / water systems and improving the prospects for energy efficient affordable housing within the city, reducing the reliance on automobile transportation within the city and reducing corruption in the local government. I did not win the election, but I did gain the ears of the local power structure. Currently the progressive mayor of Atlanta has endorsed the LEEDs standards for all new public city construction. We won the sewer battle in most of the city.

    I am a USA natural born citizen. I am working for cleaning up the act here locally, which is about as much as I can chew. If you can advise me and help me do more, I am all ears. One large problem is that sooner or later, day to day living has to be attended to. Musicians have to have instruments to perform. The pay scale here is very low for entertainers. Most gigs require amplification. I am not giving up, but I think that most of the old habits will not change until it is a matter of necessity.

    I know several people who claim to be interested to the extent of lip service on a web forum. But if you explain to them that running an AC makes the whole city (and globe) hotter, they will not believe you. Part of it is because they do not understand thermodynamics, but mostly because it is an inconvenient truth, as someone has so appropriately pointed out.

    A very good example is someone suggesting a man-made material over the use of wood for instrument construction. It takes far more energy resources to create a material by industrial processes than it does for a tree to grow wood. Sure, we can burn fossil fuels to make carbon fiber, but the tree uses only sunlight for energy. A by-product of its' production process is purification of the air. And we will have trees as long as the sun burns, while fossil fuels are quite limited.

    In the long run what will make the most difference is more people having a better education in the physical and biological sciences. Also, we tend to think of man and nature as separate and one in opposition to the other. That is a bit arrogant on the part of men that think that way. Also personifying Nature as if it has a motivation or a care is quite imaginative. This planet has historically withstood several extinction level events and rebounded with new and abundant life. Thinking environmentally is about preserving humanity, not the planet. The earth will be here far longer than men will occupy it as the "ruling species".

    Something interesting to consider is the global warming and fossil fuel consumption relation. We are so close to the end of the fossil fuel supply that consumption will begin to fall in a few years due to lack of supply regardless of demand. So CO2 emissions are absolutely certain to drop as less oil is available to burn. That will change the economics considerably as the fuels become less easily available. Short of some major and heretofore unforeseen change in the laws of Nature, anything one man or a group of men decides to do will be pretty insignificant compared to the facts of Nature. What we can do individually and as a group is change just enough to preserve our species, if that. It will be a grand test of our ability to adapt as a species and as individuals. Keep in mind that men lived for millenia without making use of these energy sources and used wood the whole time. It is not a dark future if we realize the possibilities.

    So I welcome this question about basses being environmentally friendly because bass guitar production does not take place outside of production of anything in general or independently of economics in general, which is much more at the heart of the issue.

    In defense of companies in the USA, I would point to individual makers like Ken Smith who use predominantly home grown trees that are not in danger of over-harvesting as well as established companies like Rickenbacker that have similar wood use policies.

    I might add that in Brazil, the pernambucco and brazilwood supply is threatened more by land development than bow making. Sometimes the land is so quickly developed that the trees are burned to get them out of the way. Harvesting beforehand is not always in the equation.

    It is great to consider how environmentally friendly our instruments are, but how environmentally progressive the message of our music is will make a much much bigger difference. Just my view.
  17. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Does buying used basses count as "green" based on the recycle / reduce / re-use concept?

    If so, I'm a very environmentally friendly bass buyer.
  18. My bass regularly ruptures oil tankers and engages in clear cutting forests just for kicks. It likes to burn coal just because it likes black smoke. My bass also loves to burn piles of old tires. My bass is a total eco-terrorist in a bad way.

    So no, my bass is totally not eco-friendly to the max.

    I'm working on getting my bass to stop clubbing baby seals first.
  19. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    My bass runs on clean burning natural gas. I'm thinking of converting it to hydrogen, though.
  20. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    Passive basses don't use batteries which are built from strip mining the earth. The age old passive vs. active debate is now ended.


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