Traditional Czech wood for musical instruments in short supply
Musical instruments cannot be made from old wood. It is a delicate process that requires the highest quality materials from hand-picked trees. Jaroslav Norek from Czech musical instrument maker Strunal explains what distinguishes tonewood from regular wood.
âWood has special acoustic characteristics. Trees should be over 110-120 years old and should grow very slowly and evenly. The grain should be tight and straight. northern slopes. It should not have knots and should be straight, not spiral. “
Such places are found in the remnants of the primeval forest of the Sumava Mountains, where spruce wood for the soundboards of violins, pianos and other instruments has been harvested for centuries to be exported to workshops across Europe. It is said that Mozart himself played on Sumava wooden pianos.
âIn the Czech Republic there is a great place – the Sumava mountains where at a certain altitude we can find spruces which are perfect for musical instruments. They have been cut down there since time immemorial. But since Sumava became a nature reserve and logging was limited, tonewood was scarce. â
Spruce was so abundant in Sumava that it was processed on site at local sawmills. But it is not only the increased protection of the environment but also commercial logging that makes tonewood scarce.
“In recent years, tonewood has been scarce. This is because of the high demand for timber. The timber is cut before the tree has time to grow to the required size and the locations are cleared. Also, if you cut the trees around a potential spruce top, it starts to grow faster, the grain is loose and it’s not good for our needs. “
The making of musical instruments has a long tradition in the Czech Republic and Central Europe, but with the decline in the supply of soundwood, local producers have started to look elsewhere, such as the forests of the Austrian Alps and Bosnia and Herzegovina.