When Larry contacted me first time, he mentioned that he had never purchased a new guitar because of his ethical stance. Larry continued that he had enjoyed my video about the ethical footprint of guitars, and that under certain circumstances he might consider to order a guitar from me.
Larry lives vegan straight edge -lifestyle, which includes abstainence from all use of drugs, alcohol, and animal products/biproducts. While I have been aware of the existence of this lifestyle, this was the first time someone enquired about the possibility of making a vegan compatible guitar.
My first thought was: “Can this even be done?”. Digging deeper, I realized that while we, guitar makers, have our traditions and habits, and we’ve gotten used to using many animal based substances or materials in our guitars, it is in fact relatively easy to find ways to stick only to plant based materials.
I loved this challenge. Not only did I get an interesting guitar order from a cool customer, but I had a chance to learn something very valuable on the way!
The first thing I did was to start listing which parts in my guitars are (or might be) animal based. The nut made of moose bone was an easy one. Larry also pointed out that the mother-of-pearl inlays need to substituted with something else.
After a bit of brain exercise on scanning through every detail of my guitars in this regard, it occurred to me that Harry also waxed all our pickups with beeswax. This needed to be changed as well!
Other than that, it appeared we were good as it was. The wax/oil we use for fretboards is all plant based already, and we don’t use animal based glues either.
We ended up substituting the mother-of-pearl with reconstructed stone material which has a similar vibe to it as mother-of-pearl would have. I really liked this material – we might end up using it much more in the future!
Harry used paraffin wax for the pickups, and we made the nut out of Tusq (synthetic bone substitute).
Browse through the photo gallery to learn how this guitar turned out. It appears Larry was pretty happy with the guitar – he ordered another one quickly after receiving this one!