All across the country, the steady trickle of products derived from genetically modified plants and animals into mass markets has proved to be contentious among consumers. Some people are strongly in favor of the practice, citing its effectiveness at increasing the nutritional efficiency of food production while decreasing the industry-wide usage of harmful pesticides. Other consumers are less sure about GMOs, with some individuals worried about the effect that artificial modification might have on natural genetic diversity, while others think that the idea is just plain gross. For those who are less than enthused to encounter genetically modified products at the supermarket, avoiding artificial plant parts is about to get a whole lot harder.
Pacific Rim Tonewoods, a supplier of guitar wood to major instrument makers like Gibson, Martin, and Fender, has recently invested in an experimental planting of big leaf maple trees. This is not unusual, as big leaf maple is one of the most frequently used types of wood in premium guitar making, and suppliers are always testing out new cultivars to see which trees provide the best blend of sonic and aesthetic characteristics. What makes these maple trees special is that every sapling in the planting is an identical genetic clone deriving from a single maple specimen.
While this planting is mostly a test run, cloning has the capacity to provide guitar makers with a whole host of benefits. One of the greatest problems facing large guitar producers is consistency. Customers often buy the same make and model of guitar as their favorite artists, expecting to get a specific tone out of their instrument. This can be difficult to guarantee, as each individual tree produces wood that has a unique composition and density. By using cloned wood, guitar makers can guarantee that each instrument is closer in sound to the other individual guitars belonging to the same model. Whether this pro-GMO argument will ring true among consumers is yet to be seen.