Hemp has thousands of uses including paper, textiles, building materials, food, cosmetics and more. One application that might not immediately come to mind is hemp’s usefulness in the manufacture of musical instruments.
Entrepreneur Morris Beegle may be better known as the producer of the world’s largest hemp-centric conference and trade show, NoCo Hemp Expo, held each year in Denver, but with his new company, Silver Mountain Hemp Guitars, he’s combining two passions. In addition to leading the NoCo show and a number of other hemp-related activities over the past several years, Morris spent 25 years as a producer and promoter in the music business. Now, with the launch of Silver Mountain hand crafted, hemp composite electric guitars and ukuleles made in classic styles for working musicians, he has come full circle.
Hemp has thousands of uses including paper, textiles, building materials, food, cosmetics, animal feed and more. But one application that might not immediately come to mind is the use of hemp in making musical instruments. Beegle is among a group of early innovators seeking to change that with the launch of Silver Mountain’s website, his flagship hemp guitars made in classic styles inspired from the ‘50s and ‘60s, high performance, hemp-derived speaker cabinets and cones, and related productThe use of hemp composite materials helps reduce deforestation and the use of endangered woods often used in making musical instruments, Beegle says, and hand crafted under a luthier’s care, his eco-friendly guitars and ukuleles sound great, too. Silver Mountain guitars were recently featured in Merry Jane, Pot Network and most recently on the Devil Doc Talk Podcast featuring Joey “Doc Talk” Martinez.
In addition to hemp guitars, ukuleles and speaker cabinets, Silver Mountain offers guitar straps, guitar picks, volume knobs and other accessories, all using hemp as a main ingredient in the manufacturing process. The company’s flagship guitars are hand made using hemp bast fiber composite body shells molded around hemp board cores. Custom hand-made speaker cabinets are forged with hemp pressed particle board and paired with a choice of Tone Tubby HempCone or Eminence Cannabis Rex speakers, Beegle says.
For travelers, BugOut Guitars, based in Randolph, VT, combines hemp and plant-based resins to create a unique and “supremely rugged” travel-size guitar. “One thing that’s unique about the hemp guitars compared to wood guitars (and) compared to a carbon fiber guitar is it’s sort of a happy medium between the two in the sense that my guitars have fibers and cells in common with wood, but also the durability of a carbon fiber,” Burstein told Lancaster Farming. In addition to durability, using hemp also can reduce the number of trees being used to make guitars. Burstein explained that there’s a shortage of the wood traditionally used to make guitars. As such, “there is a movement within the guitar community to use alternative forms of building instruments. This one’s mine,” he said.
Hemp also presents an eco-friendly option for saxophone players. According to maker Harry Harttmann, hemp reeds create a natural sound with an “earthy, dark low-end, a full high register and effective altissimo,” and they are more durable than traditional cane reeds.
Marimba and vibraphone players, too, can opt for keyboard mallets made from birch and hemp from Salyers. “The hemp wrap provides a unique articulation that works extremely well on marimba for rags, Mexican marimba music and many other styles. The hemp models are also great for marching ensembles due to their extreme durability and ability to project both tone and attack. The hemp wrap allows these mallets to have a big fundamental tone and the unmistakable sound of a hemp cord wrap,” says the manufacturer.
Other innovative music gear makers offer eco-friendly hemp-wrapped guitar cables, and gig bags for keeping your hemp ukuleles and guitars safe. Here’s a nice hemp gig bag for ukulele here, and a colorful, Indo-inspired one here. For guitars, Kona makes a hemp gig bag here, and U.K.-based Karma Gear offers a colorful, Nepalese-inspired one here.
Ever since the Jazz Age, cannabis and music have been intertwined, taking both musicians and listeners to new highs through the decades and styles of popular music. Now, a handful of musical innovators and entrepreneurs are showing how hemp can provide the raw materials—and inspiration—for a new generation of musical instruments and gear.
Photos: Backstage Flas