The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat
Photo Courtesy of Aristides Guitars
Photo of a pink and purple Aristides Guitar. Photo Courtesy of Aristides Guitars Logo added to image by Ethan Ritchey. Logo courtesy of Aristides Instruments

From Resins to Riffs: The Innovative Aristides Guitars

Guitars are complex instruments with centuries of history behind them, and while they have experienced numerous changes and improvements to get where they are today, one thing has remained consistent when it comes to sustainability and their negative impact on the environment. Luckily, Aristides, a Dutch electric guitar company, is changing this approach to sustainability. Here is a deep dive into who they are, what makes them unique, how they make their guitars, their environmental impact, and why it matters for the instrument industry today.

Let’s set the stage on the history of the guitar and how it has improved over time. The first example of a guitar-esque instrument was the oud which dates back several thousand years and has Middle Eastern origins. When the Moors conquered Spain (711 AD), the “oud inspired the design of the European lute, which later inspired the Spanish vihuela. In the 19th century, Spanish luthier Antonio de Torres Jurado created the first acoustic guitar that accurately resembled what we use today.

However, it was not until 1937 that George Beauchamp and Adolph Rickenbacker made the first electric guitar, named the “Rickenbacker Frying Pan,” which kickstarted a massive revolution for the instrument. Despite the first being created in the 1930s, there was little commercial success with electric guitars until the 1950s, when Leo Fender released the Fender Broadcaster.

Despite undergoing drastic changes over history, there is one thing that virtually all stringed instruments, even electric guitars, share in common: the usage of wood. Why does this matter? According to The Nature Conservancy, approximately 41 million trees are cut down daily, or 15 billion a year. While guitars, or instruments in general, aren’t the leading cause behind this statistic, they still contribute to the problem. According to Statista, approximately 3.3 million guitars were sold in 2021. It might seem like the solution to the problem is to ditch the wood and use an alternative material, but the reality is that the wood used in guitars is usually picked because of how it sounds, not because it is cheap or easy to work with. This adds a layer of complexity to the issue.

Aristides, based in Haarlem, Netherlands, actively promotes itself as a brand that uses zero wood in their guitars. They are popular with guitarists in varying genres that require different tones, so many wonder how they create versatile instruments without using wood. Using a proprietary material called Arium, the company has been able to not only create a sustainable line of guitars, but also create rich-sounding instruments coupled with a novelty around their brand that no other company seems to be able to emulate.

While Arium is arguably the perfect wood substitute, sounding just as good as quality woods while being more sustainable, Aristides does not market its products as “eco-friendly,” rather as unique, high-quality instruments. This being said, the materials they use in Arium are all generally sustainable and, if you want to dispose of your guitar, can be recycled.

In order to be an adequate substitute for wood, Arium has to be similar or better than wood, and in the late 90s, a team of Dutch scientists working in collaboration with Technical University Delft began to engineer the ideal material to replace wood. Arium contains a variety of resins, particularly thermoplastic resin, and glass bubbles which create thousands of little air pockets, resulting in a very lightweight and resonant instrument. The goal of creating an effective alternative to wood was accomplished and ended up being eco-friendly too. Nearly everything in the guitar is recyclable, but with the level of craftsmanship behind these guitars, you’ll probably never want to let it go. Bear in mind that the instruments, being custom-made, are quite expensive, ranging from $3,000 to $5,000.

What can other companies take away from this? Aristides proved that you can make unique guitars that are both high quality and sustainable. I don’t expect every company to forsake wood completely, but some of what Aristides has done can be implemented to some extent into other companies (even for budget-friendly guitar lines) in the hopes of reducing wood consumption and increasing instrument sustainability.

If you’d like to get more information on Aristides and their instruments, visit Aristides Instruments.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Fluco Beat Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *