Could Taylor's new initiative save ash from disappearing from guitars?

Sustainability is a familiar concept for Taylor guitars – its pioneering Ebony Project in Cameroon is a huge testament to that. Now the US acoustic guitar giant turned its attention to ash.

Even before Fender's announcement that it would be dramatically winding down the use of ash in its guitars, Taylor had found a sustainable source of ash. And it's in California's cities.

Taylor are the first brand to use this kind of reclaimed ash to produce guitars, starting with its new Builder's Edition 324CE. But this just the start for the tonewood it's calling Urban Ash. 

(Image credit: Taylor)

Taylor are using Urban Ash, a species previously known as shamel or evergreen ash, for the 324CE's back and sides, and liken the tonewood to a high-end Honduran mahogany.

“This particular species happens to be great mix of the right weight, density, dimensional stability and drying attributes, and responds well to sawing, sanding and finishing,” says Taylor partner and Master Builder Andy Powers.

(Image credit: Taylor)

“In almost every physical way I can measure it, it’s reminiscent of good mahogany"

Andy Powerts

This ash is supplied by West Coast Arborists, Inc (WCA); a company that provides tree maintenance and management services to cities across California is sourced from city trees that have been already been selected for removal from urban areas due to a disease or weather damage, safety concerns, damage from root systems. Some are simply at the ends of their life cycles.

And the chosen shamel ash variety Taylor has now dubbed Urban Ash sounds great too.

“In almost every physical way I can measure it, it’s reminiscent of good mahogany,” Powers adds. “It tends to be relatively consistent throughout the board. 

"Compared to other ash species used for electric guitars, it’s heavier, denser and more resonant than the ‘swamp’ ash loved by electric guitar makers, but not nearly as heavy or tough as the Northern baseball-bat ash.”

From left: WCA's John Mahoney, Bob Taylor and Taylor's Director Of Natural Resource Sustainability Scott Paul 

From left: WCA's John Mahoney, Bob Taylor and Taylor's Director Of Natural Resource Sustainability Scott Paul  (Image credit: Taylor)

It's still early days for Taylor's partnership with WCA but Urban Ash sounds like a great option for the future, and West Coast Arborists plants between 18,000 to 20,000 new trees every year. There's now scope to expand re-greening projects in communities throughout Southern California and beyond.

“An initiative like this is another example of our commitment toward better environmental stewardship,” explains Powers. 

“Sure, conservation and replanting are critical aspects in our quest toward a better forest future. In addition, we can take a fresh look around us and adapt designs to use what is currently available and build with it in a responsible way.”

(Image credit: Taylor)

The Builder's Edition 324CE ($2,999) Grand Auditorium pairs Urban Ash back and sides with a tropical mahogany top, Taylor's V-Class bracing with a chamfered body and fretboard edges,  beveled armrest and cutaway, and a Curve Wing bridge. 

Other appointments include Compass inlays in faux pearl and Italian acrylic, Gotoh 510 tuners with 21:1 gear ratio, a Silent Satin finish with a dark edgeburst treatment. The guitar is fitted with ES2 electronics and ships in a deluxe Taylor hardshell case.

For more information on Taylor's Urban Ash Initiative visit and for more information on the Builder's Edition 324CE head over to

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.