In the early 1970s, I worked for a Hawaiian lumber company that specialized in harvesting and milling koa trees. The company would send us up on Mauna Kea to scout for trees, where we saw many beautiful stands of ancient koa trees. Sadly, much of the koa was over-harvested. I have been reading up on your efforts to plant new koa forests on the Big Island, in partnership with Paniolo Tonewoods, with the goal of developing a sustainable supply of koa. I say, hooray for koa! I believe what you are doing will ensure that this beautiful hardwood will be available in adequate quantities to meet the needs of the many companies that use koa, and in particular Taylor Guitars. In practical terms, I would be interested to know how long it will take you to grow a top-quality koa tree to the point where it can be useful for building guitars.
Thank you for investing to keep koa available while planning for a sustainable harvest. Keep it up!
Ed. Note: Phil, Bob had this to say about when those koa trees might be of a suitable age to be used for guitars: “We’ve actually made a few guitars with 20-year-old trees (that’s really pushing it) and more with 30-year-old trees. But most guitars have come from much older trees of 75 years and up. From our experience, we think that 35-50 years old will be the right age range to harvest trees planted for guitars. I wish I’d be around to see it!”