An Australian Fender dealer has revealed that the guitar maker is planning to phase out the use of ash for most of its instruments. We reached out to Fender, who have confirmed the plans. The reasons cited for the move are environmental, with climate change and a destructive pest threatening ash stocks.
Ash guitar bodies
The original source for this rumour came was Guitar Station, a Fender dealer in Australia. From there the story picked up momentum on the TGP Forum where it was hotly debated. According to Guitar Station, Fender’s decision to discontinue offering ash on most of its instruments is based on two developments:
The Emerald Ash Borer – An introduced, invasive insect species from Asia that has killed tens of millions of Ash trees in North America in the past two decades. American efforts to curb the spread of these pests have been futile, and now North America is bracing for the loss of billions of Ash trees.
Flooding due to climate change – Most of Fender’s Swamp Ash comes from river islands in the Mississippi Delta. Flooding is common there but global warming is causing these areas to now be underwater two-thirds of the year, effectively eliminating Southern Ash lumber from the market.
Max Gutnik VP of Fender Electric Guitars, Basses & Amplifiers at Fender Musical Instruments Coporation (FMIC) is quoted by Guitar Station with the following comment:
In order to uphold our legacy of consistency and high quality we, at Fender, have made the decision to remove Ash from the majority of our regular production models. What little Ash we are able to source will continue to be made available in select, historically appropriate vintage models, as supplies are available.
Interestingly, Fender had introduced limited edition Raw Ash-bodied American Performer Stratocaster and Telecaster models earlier this year. These models are still available currently, albeit for a limited time.
It appears that Fender will still use ash on special occasions and possibly on limited runs, as the Fender Custom Shop likes to have options. So although the standard instruments produced in bigger numbers won’t be offered in ash, we can expect to see it on historically accurate reissues here and there, for example.
We reached out to Fender and they confirmed that the company is ending sales of ash bodies on most of its guitars, but there has not yet been an official press announcement yet, although Fender has informed its dealer network.
If you’re looking to pick up an ash-bodied Fender while you still can, check out some of these models (affiliate links):