I'm a vegan, stringed instrument tech and wannabe luthier (i play guitar, but i'm better at making the instruments sound good and be very playable by technical means...).
Two things which may be of interest:
Animal parts used in musical instruments,
Vegan musician needs funding (source of potential funding for others)
Animal parts used in instruments - particularly - a question regarding guitars (bass, electric, acoustic) I have for vegan musicians regarding the nut and saddle materials made from animal bone - most commonly cow bone.
I've personally spoken with some of the best luthiers in the world about the various materials (plastic, synthetic bone/tusk, horn, etc.) and most say that bone is the best (i personally know there is a definite difference in sounds when comparing the different materials ...).
Being a vegan - i'm not happy about this.
So the question to any vegan (musician or not) is:
Would bone material from an animal that died of natural causes - not farmed, not tortured, abused, slaughtered for food (or unfortunate enough to be killed by an auto) be acceptable to vegans or is any animal part out of the question ? Or would a vegan just prefer using non-animal derived material - even if instrument sound quality is changed?
Similar question regarding the violin bow using horse-tail hair...
A vegan musician (Melissa Lingo), whom i don't know personally, with a very nice voice, is seeking funding to produce a first CD ... I'm passing the website/info on in case any vegan musicians wish to help out a fellow vegan and to inform all of a potential source (Kickstarter.com) for funding for your own projects.
Vegan musician's page (for Melissa Lingo -in case the link doesn't go direct) here:
I personally would use it if it came from the sources you mentioned above. The devil's advocate side to that is, since most people don't actually eat animal bones, but they do eat animals, it's a way to make sure every part of the animal in used, and in the case of musical instruments, used to create instruments that can create beautiful music by vegans, giving them a platform to enlighten about veganism through their music.
When you own a high quality instrument, the likelihood of you needing to replace the bridge/nut very often in unlikely, so once again, minimizing use of the animal products. I believe my Taylor acoustic guitar has a bone bridge. I also bought the guitar before I was vegan. I've had it for 12 years and have never needed the bridge replaced.
Yes, unfortunately, it is the best material However; I believe there are possibilities. I play bluegrass banjo.. an instrument that was traditionally made from goat hide. Now, hardly anyone uses hide as the plastic heads offer much better sound. banjo picks were traditionally made from tortoise shell but materials such as: derlin and other composite materials are proving superior. On guitars, it is the bridge and nut.. on banjos just the nut. I believe that a composite material could be used that is just as effective
trees are also a valuable resource to animals. I try to buy used instruments and find used parts. I am currently researching bamboos. I hope to one day produce bamboo slabs that could be used for guitars.
Also, baxendale guitars here in Georgia rebuilds used harmony guitars into nice instruments. keep searching.. there are options.
You raise a very interesting point. I am a vegan accordionist and, as far as I am aware, it is absolutely impossible to obtain a vegan accordion as they are made with many hundreds of small leather valves, as well as animal glues etc. Even if alternatives to leather were suitable, I am not sure it would be a practical or affordable proposition to commission such an instrument.
Yes the accordion is an interesting one AND when you build a plastic factory you destroy precious trees however I did think of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber would make a guitar nut. also there are already guitars and things made of carbon fiber however, they have a different sound and look. Carbon fiber is not that pretty. the more recycled things you can use the better though.
I don't give people a hard time if they are trying to eat better and trying to help animals but don't always succeed. it's the effort that is most important IMO
I have a hemp strap for my banjo.. not too shabby.
Bone is best, if you haven't done your homework about the rest. There's Corian, which is rock dust inbedded in acrylic. Can be had for free from the dumpster of kitchen counter fabrication shops. Or you can buy sample pieces. Down-side is that you have to cut and mill it down to nut/saddle blank size. Not easy for an average musician to do, who doesn't have any wood-working or machinist experience. One thing about corian is that it's consistent throughout, which is often not the case with a piece of bone.
Just because bone rhymes with tone, doesn't mean it's the most toneful material.
I'm not sure how "vegan" delrin is, but that makes a nice nut. One of the best for tuning stability, because it doesn't want to pinch or "grab" the string like some other materials do. I know of one guitar maker who uses delrin that has glass in it (called glass-filled delrin, or something like that), to combine hardness with slipperyness.
It's better to buy used instruments. New instruments always need a set-up anyway to play their best, so you might as well pay to have a used instrument set-up (it will be more stable also).
When they look for guitar woods in the forest, very few trees "will do". When they do see one that looks promising, they'll cut down many other trees to get to that one select tree with their logging equipment and to get it out of there. Of course the other trees cut down, are also sold for wood products, from furniture to paper pulp, making the whole operation profitable. Then you have logging roads. When you have logging roads, any bozo with a pickup truck, now has easy hunting access to the area.