Friday, 16 January 2015

Huon Pine

I walked into a guitar shop today which stocked wall-to-wall specimens of a local brand of acoustic guitar.  It was almost as hot inside as out, and was dismayed to think that these guitars would have to live in the swanky heat and wondered of any damage caused to the delicate bracings and woods.

I played a lot of the guitars and conversed with the nice sales guy who brought them down for me.  I was too scared to handle all these thousand dollar plus guitars from their wall-hangings, fearing breakage and banging that often happens when taking a guitar from a wall in the shop.  I didn't want to let on I already knew a lot about the product and was happy anyway to try a few woods to see how they sounded.

Californian Redwood on Rosewood sounded quite magnificent.  This Californian Redwood is locally grown and apparently makes this particular model quite a drawcard in the US where Redwood is a prohibited wood for harvesting.  It looked amazing too, with a spectacular leaf-like pattern of a cream-centre surrounded by that lustrous, deep red.

The real cream of the crop was the Blackwood back and sides topped with Tasmanian Huon Pine.  This Huon Pine was 10,000 years old and was harvested from an already felled tree residing within the bottom of a Tasmanian lake.  This particular set of Blackwood was highly-figured in "fiddleback" style, giving off a brilliant 3D effect; it was difficult to take one's eyes off.  Me and the sales rep were standing there for a while, he holding up the guitar, and us just staring silently for a few seconds.  The Huon Pine was clean, a gorgeous faint yellow, and it produced that unmistakable, everlasting smell of Huon Pine that seems to possess some sort of ethereal power beyond the sensory realm.

The Huon Pine guitar may not be the finest-sounding acoustic guitar - but it arguably comes fairly close.  No, instead, something else came through, something almost shocking.  This guitar throbbed with 'soul', some kind of timeless intensity.  It sang a song of its own language.  It was alive.  It felt like a masterpiece of the earth, with woods that could spin a wordless story which transcend all times and ages, and yet remains tied to the place and region from whence it sprang, and was built.

This guitar had a $5999 tag attributed to it.  It's worth the money.  You can't put a price-tag on a totemic guitar like this.   I'd only procure such a piece if it somehow came my way to purchase.  That I was able to handle it and sniff the pine and play it was enough to be impacted by something that was quite vast.  It's just so amazing that this kind of potency can be built into one acoustic guitar.

Paul Hewson shooting star

i'm in the sunshine A mate of mine produces a monthly songwriter newsletter which goes out to a hundred or so mainly Sydney-based...