Musicians can be the revolutionaries of our society. Progressive and popular, their ideas and music speak to mass audiences and inspire change in those who listen. Motown sparked a change a racial revolution, Elvis karate kick-started a sexual revolution and the Beatles talked about revolution when a country knew change was needed.
Now musicians can start a Green Revolution with the introduction of bamboo musical instruments.
Used for centuries to make instruments in Asia, bamboo wasn’t as widely seen in the Western instruments until recent years. Yamaha, the world’s largest manufacturer of musical instruments, has pioneered a brand-new manufacturing process that incorporates bamboo’s sonic and ecological benefits into Western musical instruments.
In 2000, Yamaha introduced two products lines developed to address a pointed concern for the environment and heralding a future direction for musical instrument design. Their bamboo snare drum and bamboo guitar are made with the highly sustainable and renewable bamboo plant.
Introduced to enthusiastic reviews at the Winter NAMM Exhibition in Los Angeles, the acoustic guitar uses 3-ply Bamboo for its top, back and sides, with multiple parallel Bamboo laminates in the neck, resulting in a totally new sound that is remarkably bright and clear. The new snare drums use 6-ply Bamboo in the shell for a uniquely warm sound.
Conventional guitars of recent times are made from hardwoods like cedar, rosewood and mahogany while drums often use beech, birch, mahogany and maple. These woods are chosen because of the resonance they create in their sound and their warp resistance. However, these woods are also slow-growing hardwoods that can take anywhere between 30 -40 years to reach maturity. Continued damage to the environment comes with the cultivation of hardwoods and the use of pesticides and heavy machinery needed to harvest. The bamboo plant can be harvested above ground and will grow to harvesting length again within a few short years. Additionally, the bamboo plant has a vast root system network that will sprout new shoots constantly, always inspiring new growth.
“Helping the planet never sounded so good,” says David Bergstrom, director of marketing, Yamaha Pro Audio and Combo Division. “We’re really proud of the way the new guitar and snare drums have turned out, and we’re going to continue to develop new approaches to our time-honored commitment of creating great musical instruments.”
By varying the orientation of Bamboo’s long, straight fibers, Yamaha’s patented method makes the most of the material’s natural strength and warp resistance. The process uses three- to five-year-old Bamboo plants which are about 6 inches in diameter. The wood is sawn into strips, bonded longitudinally, and then laminated in layers perpendicular to one another for rigidity. This laminate can then be crafted using traditional guitar- and drum-making techniques. The warm, glossy appearance and intriguing grain of the finished product are welcome characteristics.
When Yamaha offered a preview of the new Bamboo guitar at the Healdsburg Guitar Festival in California late last year, the world’s top strummers couldn’t keep their hands off it. Experts were taken aback by the prototype’s loud, resonant sound, its balanced tone with excellent sustain, and its rigid neck.
During Winter NAMM 2000, Yamaha’s top drum artists put the Bamboo snare drum through its paces alongside other snares at the annual “Groove Night” concert and came away with rave reviews. Renowned drummer Russ Miller used the Bamboo snare during a recent recording session and said it was the best of this year’s new snare drums.
By impressing musicians with both the quality of sound and the eco-friendly benefits of bamboo instruments, Yamaha is leading the green revolution that is sweet sweet music to all of our ears.
For more information on how using bamboo helps our Mother Earth, visit Green Earth New’s section on Bamboo & The Environment.