A little history on Blackbird
We initially started Blackbird Guitars making carbon fiber guitars because wood instruments have a myriad of issues, particularly in terms of travel and long term reliability. Eventually, we developed a natural version of carbon fiber called Ekoa, a composite made of flax linen fibers and bio-epoxy. Blackbird fans love our Ekoa instruments for their wood-like texture and tone, but what most folks don't know is the ecological impacts of using this material.
Flax fibers + Bio-resin
To begin, we should look at the benefits of the flax plant. Flax is known these days for the seed we eat in our cereal. The plant itself grows as a tall grass and is one of the strongest natural fibers. Flax plants are ready to harvest in 100 days and grow well in poor soil, only needing water in exceptionally dry, hot or windy conditions. Unlike some crops, almost all parts of the flax plant can be used for different purposes. Consider the current crisis over water and land, flax is arguably one of the most efficient crops to grow.
Next, let's look at the bio-resin we use to bind the fibers together. While many resin systems on the market are produced with petroleum based carbon, the resin we use in Ekoa consists of 50% bio-based feed stocks, upcycled from post industrial processes. In other words, our Ekoa instruments are mostly made with upcycled and renewable materials that don't need any type of spray-on finishing. Not only are they designed to last generations, they are meant to be good for the generations to come.
Why Does This Mater?
Well, on a local level, working with Ekoa makes manufacturing possible in San Francisco where there are incredibly strict environmental regulations. The bigger picture, however, is it allows us to do our part to help combat climate change. Today, most acoustic instruments are made from highly prized and increasingly rare rainforest woods, such as Sitka Spruce, Rosewood and Ebony. Purchasing products made of these materials promotes initial incursions into rainforests all over the world, leading to wide spread deforestation. According to the WWF, we are losing 48 football fields every minute. And it's not just the trees we are losing of course— it is estimated that these rainforest ecosystems hold 50% of all biomass found on the planet. Species of insects, birds, mammals, some not yet discovered, are going extinct from the destruction of habitat. In addition, the price of these rainforest woods are so steep that poachers are encouraged to prey on the world's biggest and oldest trees. According to 98% of the scientific community, these ancient forests are critical for reducing greenhouse gases. Finding solutions to reduce the human footprint on Earth is an imperative and a responsibility we owe our children. And this is why making Blackbird guitars out of Ekoa and other environmentally friendly material is so critical. We hope you consider these factors next time you purchase an instrument as well.