Very few, I imagine. And yet, once you start perusing this magical realm, a new world opens in front of our eyes. For this reason, a trip down the Latemar wood, near the Passo di Costalunga, in South Tyrol, is well worth the journey. Fir trees are used to craft said instruments, but it’s not an easy deal at all. Quite the opposite indeed. Wood is cut (usually between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, according to the moon) and then it has to “rest” for many years, at least 150, if not 200 years. The first metre and a half from the ground of each fir cannot be used, as it is too close to the roots, so you can actually only employ the remaining ten metres or so. The diameter has to be of no less than 60 cm. It is therefore a very expensive type of wood, with prices around 10,000 euros per square metre.
The Latemar wood is particularly loved and appreciated because it grows between 1400 and 2000, in winter it is covered by snow and branches are cut naturally, not by human intervention.
Patience is the keyword in this field, and rightly so. Results are stunning and well worth the wait. How can you be sure a particular type of wood will work well?
You need to wait and see how wood reacts to time and then you’ll gauge if it cuts the mustard and can indeed become a prestigious guitar or a violin. Each piece is a one of a kind, thus unique. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hold one of such exemplary in your hands? You can do so at the Thomas Guitars shop, close to Bozen. Here, Thomas Orgler and NIkolaus Eilken are lute makers and love their jobs. They adore crafting ad hoc instruments for passionate musicians, putting their skills to the service of others.
Next time you wander through a fir forest, lift your eyes and smell the wood. You may well be surrounded by future instruments, and may also hear some music in the air.