The new CITES treaty updates make export of any and all rosewoods difficult, impossible in some cases. These new rules make it all that more important for guitarists to shed the blinders of convention and learn to listen with their ears instead of their eyes. There are some amazing sounding woods, many with great beauty, just waiting for talented musicians to pick up the mantle and show the world how its done.
In the inventory now are 3 instruments built with readily (and legally) available woods that sound great. Sycamore (known as Plane tree in Europe) has been used in Spain for “low end” flamenco guitars. That is a completely undeserved classification. It is cheaper to purchase than rosewood or cypress, but it is by no means low end in terms of sound. While it is a “white” wood, it should not be limited to the flamenco realm. The two instruments in stock show the best of classical and flamenco characteristics.
Black Poisonwood (Metopium brownei) has been marketed by the false name of Caribbean rosewood (it isn’t a dalbergia sp.) and the unfortunate name of Chechen. Coming from the same family of plants as Poison Ivy (the family Anacardiaceae) the bark of the tree produces urushiol, the same chemical skin irritant that Poison Ivy produces. The wood is safe however, and is one of the most beautiful woods on earth, far exceeding any rosewood I’ve seen. The color is similar to some lighter shades of Brazilian rosewood, but with more depth and movement.
Both of these woods are excellent choices for guitars of the highest quality.