The decline in availability of tropical wood, and subsequent laws—such as the EU Timber Regulation act and the Lacey Act in the United States—designed to regulate its sale, have had a profound affect on the guitar industry, leading guitar manufacturers to seek alternative materials with which to construct their instruments.
One French luthier, Jean-Yves Alquier, spent five years conducting independent research in order to find an alternative. Finally, he stumbled upon an unlikely material that he believes is the future of the guitar: bamboo.
“We don’t have the right any more to build guitars like we did in the Fifties, using tropical wood,” Alquier said. Alquier says that, in his research, he found that bamboo had exceptional acoustic, durability and aesthetic qualities, comparable to that of tropical hardwood. On top of that, he found that bamboo—even through its production, transport and transformation—was CO2 neutral.
Alquier Guitars are made with bamboo backs and fretboards, and are made by Alquier and pickup specialist Nicolas Mercadal with only local, non-tropical wood that is FSC and ONF (National Forests Office of France) certified. The hardware of all Alquier Guitars is made from non-toxic metals such as ultra-lightweight titanium or aviation grade aluminum parts, as opposed to nickel and chrome, whose surface treatments often contribute to pollution.
To finance its operations, Alquier recently launched a Kickstarter campaign, and with it, a new model, the Cosmic ONE. The ONE features a full titanium wraparound, two custom P90 type bridge and neck pick-ups and a 3-way toggle switch. It also has a flamed maple top, a bamboo back provides and a light “ergo-design.” Each guitar will be signed by Jean-Yves Alquier, numbered and limited to 100 models, and will be priced at €1,990.