13.07.2020

Veneer musical instruments: The tone makes the music

Bonn. Since time immemorial, people have loved their singing accompanied by sounding instruments. Musical instruments are therefore as old as mankind itself. Music is a balm for the soul as a lullaby, a basis for dance, a source of rhythm and good humour. As material for the production of musical instruments the most different materials are used. Alone or in combination, metal, stone, pumpkin fruits, clay, yarn, leather and wood have been and still are used to make instruments. Stringed and plucked instruments, percussion instruments and pianos are made from the thinnest solid wood in the world, namely veneer. Veneer can do more than its massive relative: with its unique thinness it stands for individual uniqueness and the perfect sound.

The most important reason for using veneer for instrument making is its resonance-giving character. This can vary greatly depending on the type of wood. "The veneer used determines the sound of the instrument and its material quality is responsible for the purity of the tone," explains Ursula Geismann, Managing Director of the Initiative Furnier + Natur (IFN). Maple veneer is often used for plucked string instruments, which include the violin, guitar, zither, harp, mandolin, small ukulele, large double bass, cello and also the lute. The acoustics are then very clear and penetrating. Especially in violin making maple is often combined with spruce, whereby the neck and tailpiece are made of solid hardwood such as boxwood, mahogany or walnut. Wood and veneer procurement, storage and selection are therefore part of the most important know-how of musical instrument makers. Sounds can be clean, sharp, warm, rich, etc. and can also change significantly over time. In the case of antiquarian instruments, such as old violins, this is not only desirable but also increases their current value. It is not only the player who is important, as the natural material veneer automatically gives the musical instrument a dynamic sound. Veneer also plays an important role in percussion instruments as a wrapping and resonance-increasing material. "The trick is that professional drummers, for example, can hear the differences between the various types of veneer and are happy to choose the wood that suits the musical genre," reveals Geismann. For keyboard instruments such as upright pianos, grand pianos and organs, wood usually serves as the basic material and is acoustically and visually completed by fine surface veneers. But wood veneer doesn't just look good: Its use also makes an important contribution to preventing climate change. During their growth, trees and thus wood absorb the climate-damaging gas CO2 and bind it in the long term.

Initiative Veneer + Nature (IFN) Veneer + Nature Initiative
The Initiative Furnier + Natur (IFN) e.V. was founded in 1996 by the German veneer industry and its partners. Today, it is supported by European companies from the veneer industry, trade and veneer processing industry as well as professional associations of the timber industry. The aim of the association is to promote the natural all-round material veneer.


Photo 1: Rocky sound thanks to Sapeli veneer. Picture: Matt Fried, DW-Drums

Photo 2: With maple veneer, the globally active organ building company Rieger has produced the organ for St. Sebastian Cathedral in Bratislava. Picture: Danzer

Photo 3: Maple veneer on the guitar produces a particularly clear sound Photo: IFN/Wehmeyer

Photo 4: The moon lute (Chinese: Yueqin) with sandalwood veneer on both sides has been sounding in classical Chinese music for over 2,000 years. Picture: IFN



Rocky sound thanks to Sapeli veneer. Picture: Matt Fried, DW-Drums


With maple veneer, the globally active organ building company Rieger has produced the organ for St. Sebastian Cathedral in Bratislava. Picture: Danzer


Maple veneer on the guitar produces a particularly clear sound Photo: IFN/Wehmeyer


The moon lute (Chinese: Yueqin) with sandalwood veneer on both sides has been sounding in classical Chinese music for over 2,000 years. Picture: IFN