Protecting the Heart of the Marimba

Ron Samuels with Rosewood in Central America

“When you hold a piece of Honduras Rosewood in your hand, you can really feel its power.” Ron Samuels, Marimba One

At the heart of a marimba one™ marimba is the Honduras Rosewood Keyboard. The richly colored and faintly aromatic rosewood is universally known for its beauty, durability and sound quality. It is the most resonant wood in the world.

However, Honduras Rosewood is an endangered species, with illegal poaching and overharvesting driving it closer to extinction each day. Rosewood is the world’s most illegally trafficked wild product, mainly due to demand from the hardwood furniture industry. A 2016 analysis by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reveals that Rosewood makes up 35% of all illegal seizures by value.

Traditionally, instrument makers buy their rosewood from dealers, but then all instrument makers have to compete for the same wood. It was around 2008 when Samuels realized that he would have to take drastic action if he wanted to have enough high-quality rosewood to continue making his world-class marimbas long into the future.

“I knew it was time to take a road unchartered,” Samuels said. In a leap of faith, he got on a plane to Central America where, after following multiple leads, he made contact with the Mayan community. It took Samuels two days to make the trip, but at last he found the remote village on the outskirts of a jungle rich with rosewood.

Samuels worked closely with his contacts in the Mayan village to maximize the lumber from each log. He sent a new band saw mill along with over 100 band saw blades to Central America. It took several years and countless trips, but at last he got the mill up and running.

Now, marimba one™…

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