The Legend of ‘The Tree,’ a Mythic Source of 500-Year-Old Mahogany Coveted by Slash, Andy McKee, and More
The legend of the Tree really begins in the late 1970s, just after the birth of the boutique-guitar movement. A friend had told Robert Novak, a wood importer in what was then British Honduras, about the felled mahogany tree. It looked like nothing Novak had ever seen. When he went to check it out, he was stuck by its rich, wavy figuring.
Getting the wood out of the jungle was no easy task. First, Novak’s crew cut it in half, but it still wouldn’t budge. “So then they had to cut it in four sections and drag the logs out,” he says. “But in order to load them onto the trucks, they had to quarter those four sections—turn them into 13-foot pieces. Sometimes they couldn’t get but one piece on a logging truck at a time.”
When the crew eventually got the wood out of the forest, they had to truck it some 90 miles to the coast, where they floated the logs out to a saw mill.
It is possible that it would have spent the rest of its days lying in the ravine—its incredible beauty never to be seen by the human eye and its untapped potential squandered away through a slow and unrelenting progression of rot and decay.
Fortunately, The Tree was to have a fate much more glamorous.
It sounds magical… nothing like mahogany but more like the very best [Brazilian] rosewood, with this astonishing clarity and bass response."
Soon, as these instruments started hitting the market, word about the mythical wood got out. That’s when the a-list guitar heroes started clamouring for an instrument made out of “the Tree,” and the legend of the unique tonewood was born.