When you hear "the most prized tonewood in the world," what comes to mind? If you’re like most luthiers, musicians and collectors, you automatically think of Brazilian rosewood, the universally coveted, exceptionally rare and heavily regulated tonewood. Those fortunate enough to own a guitar made with Brazilian rosewood – and those who have had the opportunity to play one – know this tonewood is something unique and incredible. Brazilian rosewood is hard, stiff, and highly resonant with a chime-like ring that sustains. When cut, it has a delicious floral scent, similar to roses, thus the name.
Breedlove recently negotiated the purchase of the world’s largest collection of completely legal, certified CITES-compliant Brazilian rosewood for use in our highest end instruments. These amazing one-of-a-kind sets are also available to dealers and players who want to design custom instruments in our Custom Sound Studio.
Breedlove's stock of Brazilian rosewood is not only legally certified, exquisite, and rare, it is completely stable due to the number of years these sets cured in a perfect climate prior to acquisition. These tone sets were cared for by experts for over 50 years in Spain before being transferred to the wood experts at Breedlove.
A few of the offerings of Brazilian rosewood in the Breedlove collection include:
Milagro is Spanish for “miracle” and rightly so. The Milagro is a spectacular “miraculous” Brazilian rosewood tree that is estimated to have germinated in the early 1600s. It grew inthe area of Linhares, state of Espiritu Santo, on a hillside. Lack of water caused slow growth and resulted in very unique spider webbing. Mother Nature blessed this spectacular 400-year-old Brazilian wood with unparalleled aesthetic and beautiful tonal qualities. When struck, it can resonate like glass with unmatched sustain and projection
Exceptionally dark, with occasional red streaks and exquisite spider webbing, the Esperanza sets are easily 500 years old. It is rumoured that these trees were found on the ranches owned by the facenderos in Brazil, left lying next to rivers, and it is assumed that the nutrients from the rivers contributed to the beautiful, deep chocolate-brown coloration. This incredibly exquisite wood has a rich glass-like tap tone that exhibits the very finest Brazilian rosewood tonal properties available today.
Puerta de Iglesia
This collection of strikingly beautiful tone sets exhibits a contrasting-sapwood pattern known in Europe as puerta de iglesia or “church doors.” The name comes from a tale about a famous guitar maker Miguel Rodriguez of Cordoba, Spain who, in the 1970s, came into possession of an old large church door that exhibited contrasting sapwood and built a series of guitars from the doors.
Breedlove's Puerta de Iglesia sets have a large amount of light colored sapwood present on the back and sides. This healthy sapwood is tonally equal to the darker heartwood. The perfectly book-matched backs accentuate the sapwood grain in a wonderful way. The end result is a guitar that is a beautiful piece of natural artwork as well as a fine instrument.
Why is Brazilian rosewood so heavily regulated?
In 1967, Brazilian rosewood had become so popular for instruments and other wood products that the Brazilian government became concerned that this precious hardwood could be wiped out, so the government outlawed the export of rosewood logs.
What are the details of the Brazilian rosewood regulations?
In 1967, the Brazilian government outlawed the export of Brazilian rosewood logs and in 1992 the newly formed CITES convention declared Brazilian rosewood a threatened species. As a result, most nations throughout the world declared it illegal to harvest, export or import any Brazilian rosewood (including products produced from Brazilian rosewood) harvested after 1992. In 2008 the United States Congress expanded the Lacey Act to include wood products and required chain of custody for every step of ownership of Brazilian rosewood to insure compliance with U.S.A. and international regulations.
Is it legal to buy a guitar made from Brazilian rosewood?
If the guitar is a Breedlove, it is 100% legal. For other manufacturers, it depends on whether the instrument was made from legally obtained Brazilian rosewood. In order for the instrument to be legal, you must have proof that the rosewood was already cut prior to the bans. When you purchase or design a custom a Breedlove guitar made from Brazilian rosewood, it will come with all the paperwork necessary to prove that your guitar is not only crafted from legally-obtained rosewood, but also to qualify for a guitar passport, to enable you to travel across international borders with your guitar.
How can I be sure the Brazilian Rosewood in my Breedlove is legal?
We bought our supply from Madinter, a hardwood trading company specializing in Brazilian rosewood. Mandinter imported several Brazilian rosewood logs during the 1950s and 1960s, prior to the 1967 Brazilian restrictions. Our selection of Brazilian tone sets comes exclusively from these trees imported prior to 1967. We purchased Madinter’s collection in its entirety in 2013. Every Breedlove guitar crafted from Brazilian rosewood has supporting documentation that ensures that your instrument is legal.