I’ve been intrigued by the sustainability of reclaimed wood as a guitar building material for years, so my interest was piqued when one of our clients, Brian, approached me with an idea regarding some wood that he had come into. He was driving through the French Quarter one day, and as he was passing the back of St. Louis Cathedral, he noticed two guys heaving some old lumber out of the building and into a dumpster on Royal street. He immediately pulled over and asked the workers what the deal was with the wood and they said “We’re doing renovation work in there and we had to replace some of the old beams”. He asked if he could have the section they were holding and they said “Sure.” He jumped out and stuffed the 170 year old longleaf pine artifact into his hatchback and peeled off. “It would be so cool to have a reclaimed wood custom guitar made out of this stuff”, he thought.
His haul wasn’t quite enough to yield an entire guitar, so he started scoping out other construction dumpsters around town and eventually got another old growth heart pine beam from the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church (which is now an apartment building), and some quarter sawn flooring from a historic Uptown home.
The longleaf pine from which these buildings were made nearly went extinct around the turn of the 20th century because of it’s desirability as a building material due to the heart wood’s strength and stability. These old growth forests once covered approximately 45 million acres along the coastal plains of the Southern United States, with many trees living as old as 500 years. This is not the same pine as the 2x4s you get from Home Depot. Due to deforestation and over-harvesting since colonial days, only about 3% of the original longleaf pine forests remain.
Brian brought the wood into the shop along with a sketch of what he wanted built. It was a custom design that fell somewhere between his ’64 Jaguar and a ’70s Telecaster Deluxe, and he wanted it wired up with a ’50s Gibson style electronics layout. I suggested using some old barge board that I had laying around for the pickguard, and we chose purpleheart for the neck reinforcement stringers and binding, as well as gold hardware and brass appointments, because, it’s New Orleans – you gotta have some purple and gold in there!
Here’s how the guitar came out:
For a full list if specs on this guitar and more examples of my custom guitar work, check us out at Maret Guitars.