How A Forklift Pallet Changed The Music World

How A Forklift Pallet Changed The Music World

If people ever think of a connection between a forklift hire and the world of music, it tends to be focused on the supply chain and logistics side of music. After all, with so much heavy equipment, instruments, sets and machinery involved in the majority of concerts, a forklift truck becomes essential for transporting machinery from lorries and trucks to the stage and is often used to help raise and hoist stage dressing and larger props as part of the setup process. This is all true, but there is a more direct way that forklifts, specifically the universal wooden pallets used to secure and transport large quantities of goods, have impacted the world of music by debunking one of the guitar world’s longest-standing superstitions.

The Myth Of Exotic Wood


Over the many centuries that luthiers have made guitars, a range of different wood types have been used which each possess different properties for generating sounds, with different guitars (as well as other string and woodwind instruments) sounding different depending on the type of wood used.

There is some truth to this, but often the effect is overstated in marketing, and as a consequence musicians and luthiers would seek ever more expensive rare tonewoods such as the exceptionally rare Brazilian rosewood.

Tone was not the only factor in the choice of tonewoods to use, of course, but it was so often used as a marketing and sales point to emphasise how certain guitars would sound “better” that the exact truth of the matter could often be lost.

A lot of factors go into the creation of a guitar, with quality specialist craftwork, how the wood is prepared and the acoustic properties of the instrument itself being more important than the quality of the wood itself, as famous luthier Bob Taylor was about to prove.


The Pallet Guitar


Standard wooden pallets are typically made from softwood pine or hardwood oak, depending on the specific properties of the pallet itself, and neither of these woods is commonly used for making an acoustic guitar.

For several decades, Bob Taylor and Taylor Guitars were seen as one of the best acoustic guitar makers in the world, but that was commonly credited, even by Taylor’s own salespeople, to the quality of wood they used.

There are two versions of the origin story beyond this. The first is that Martin Guitars, a competitor to Taylor Guitars, had claimed that the reason their guitars were so well regarded was that he simply had access to the best materials.

Feeling stung by the implication, Bob Taylor wanted to prove that luthier skill is more important than materials and set about making a guitar out of the most common scrap wood he could find.

An alternate story was that a friend of Mr Taylor teased him when they were walking around a church construction site that he could make a guitar out of any wood, so he took the challenge.

Exactly what wood the Pallet Guitar is made from is not known. The body and neck were made from oak pallets, and the top was made from two-by-four wood that was such a mix of different grains that it was impossible to classify it as any specific wood.

The result shocked people, including C.F. Martin himself, and proved that the quality of manufacture is more important than the raw materials themselves, which in turn has changed how guitars are made and sold around the world.