Raw Materials – Yamaha SVC 110-SK Electric Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument that is considerably popular among a wide variety of musicians. Since its derivation from the 16th century, the cello has fit a contemporary style with the more modern, electric instruments. “The 1950s saw the beginnings of the use of the cello in pop music when jazz bass players such as Oscar Pettiford, Ray Brown, and Ron Carter began to take up the instrument,” (1). With the world slowly evolving to music such as rock, pop, and hip-hop, Yamaha created the SVC 110-SK Electric Cello to better fit the present-day musician, employing an amplification of sound and technology that is built around electric signals and modeling a totally new body shape. As the world’s technology started to accelerate production, machines efficiently made these products, transported materials around the world and allowed human effort to become obsolete. However, the Yamaha SVC-110 still implements traditional techniques in the cello-making process. This hybrid of classical and electronic has made the Yamaha Electric Cello a versatile instrument regarding its performance and design. One may argue that materials are poorly used when upgrading the classical cello to its electric successor, wasting wood and other materials that could be used for other products that satisfy popular needs. Although the materials/energy/waste involved in the overall lifespan of our product is unsustainable, the Yamaha SVC-110SK electric cello proves to be as sustainable as its classical predecessor. The electric cello uses traditional and modern components to provide a hybrid product that is significantly sustainable. By examining the materials from start, to finish, and long after its life, the Yamaha SVC-110SK Electric Cello makes for a moderate, environmental-friendly product.
Yamaha, as a corporation with social responsibility, recognizes earth’s depleting natural resources and the scarcity of wood remaining. Large amounts of wood are used when making electronic musical instruments and Yamaha established the “Yamaha Timber Procurement and Usage Guidelines” in fiscal 2007, indicating the direction of their timber usage in order to “better conserve this precious resource as well as ensure its availability for continued use,” (2). Even before the creation of its many musical instruments, Yamaha is conscious of harvesting and trading wood resources in order to accomplish sustainable procurement that is friendly to the environment.
The Yamaha SVC-110SK Electric Cello uses three types of wood: maple, ebony, and spruce. The decline of timber resources makes it difficult for Yamaha to stably acquire the wood materials needed for musical instruments in good condition. When gathering spruce, maple and ebony wood, Yamaha utilizes “A.R.E., Acoustic Resonance Enhancement, a new technology for realistically aging new wood by artificial means to create the ideal quality that old instruments possess,” (2). Yamaha states that no organic solvents or chemical substances are required, which significantly reduces Yamaha’s environmental load (2). Yamaha’s A.R.E. process provides a more suitable and sustainable product that helps make a more environmentally conscious electric cello.
Yamaha’s ebony, maple, and spruce wood is found from a variety of continents. It is not mentioned which specific type of spruce, ebony, or maple is used when making the electric cello but Yamaha has found many different sources to make its product. Spruce can be found in Canada, Alaska, British Columbia, Hokkaido, the European Alps, and North America (3). Ebony is unique and concentrated in Africa and Southeast Asia (3). Maple can be found in America or Canada. Yamaha operates on a global market and the wood that is collected is shipped by continental region or to its mother factory, Nippon Gakki Company, Limited (4). By working with a global market, Yamaha is able to ensure a product that not only performs at a professional but consistent level of manufacturing.
When the wood arrives at its designated Yamaha factory, humans are able to process the wood through Acoustic Resonance Enhancement, cut the desired pieces and use machines to assist in making a consistent product. The craftsmen are able to pick which type of wood is suitable for each section of the electric cello. Breaking down the specifications and nomenclature of the Yamaha SVC-100SK, spruce is used to make the body in order to enrich a rich mid and low range, ebony is used to make the fingerboard and pegs which offer firm support, and maple is used to make the neck and bridge, which help make a sweet, thick tone. Craftsmen carefully pick the most optimal piece of wood from each type in order to create a professional electric cello. Workers trace the shape on each piece of wood and then cut each shape using a band saw for precision. The closer the craftsman is able to cut the outline, the less sanding he/she has to do. A considerable amount of effort is made when carving the body of the electric cello since it is made up of thinner strokes compared to the standard body of a traditional cello. A cavity is then chiseled at the head of the electric cello to create the peg box. Parallel grooves are carved at the back of the head for a stylistic design. A rasp is then used to shave the wood at the correct thickness. A machine drills holes into the side of the peg box for the tuning pegs, one for each of the four strings. The grooves are filed down on the back of the head and the neck is scraped in order to give the top portion of the cello a final finish. Using a reamer, the craftsman tapers the peg holes. The ebony pegs have matching tapers in order to fit compactly in the holes. The craftsmen brushes wood glue onto the next section and presses the ebony fingerboard onto the neck. There are many different methods when tightly sealing the glue to each component of the cello, but one method is to wrap them with surgical tubing while the glue dries. Holes are drilled into various parts of the cello in order to fit screws and attach the remaining pieces together. An oscillating sander is used to smooth the edges of the backbone and a high-speed router is used to create clean edges for the electric cello. A colored stain is then applied to the wood for cosmetic purpose. This stain is a lacquer that is sprayed on to its mostly mass-produced type instruments (7). This tumultuous process only accounts for the organic materials when making the Yamaha Electric Cello. Although this process uses several machines and devices, the majority of work is done by primary movers, human hands, and contributes a significantly small amount of waste to its output.
Moving on to the sensor, strings, power supply, tailpiece, and electric controls, these pieces are made solely by Yamaha machines. The tailpiece, electric controls, and power supply are “plastics derived from organic products such as cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt, and crude oil,” (8). According to the British Plastics Federation, the most popular plastic used for electrical applications is Phenol formaldehyde and Polytetrafluoroethene. Although Yamaha does not state what type of plastic is used for its electric controls, tailpiece, and power supply, we can assume that Yamaha use a variety of plastics in order to create its electric cello. The electric control is finally bolted the electric cello with nickel or brass screws, completing the entire frame of the Yamaha SVC-100SK.
Yamaha uses a different source for its supplied cello strings, D’Addario Helicore strings. D’Addario is a string company that uses high-carbon steel wire that must meet rigorous specifications to ensure durability and high performance (9). A plastic ball end is attached to the strings, made by piston machines that form its shape and attach it to the string. The steel string is wrapped with nickel-plated string. The D’Addario Helicore strings are then packaged with plastic wrapping and shipped to Yamaha factories.
The Piezo electric pickup auxiliary is what gives the Yamaha SVC-110SK its sound. The Piezo electric pickup is a permanent magnet with a core of material such as alnico or ferrite, wrapped several thousand turns of fine enameled copper wire. The pickup is mounted on the bridge of the electric cello and is able create a magnetic field and induce voltage in the coil for sound (10). Yamaha does not list any outside trademark to its Piezo pickup and is therefore mined by other companies, shipped to Yamaha and made in its factories.
The Yamaha SVC-110SK Electric Cello uses traditional and modern components to provide a hybrid product that is significantly sustainable. Although the materials/energy/waste involved in the overall lifespan of our product is unsustainable, the Yamaha SVC-110SK electric cello proves to be as sustainable as its classical predecessor. By limiting the amount of wood to be used, enhancing their aging process in order to ensure an increasingly higher yield of timber to be used, and creating a product that is ageless, the electric cello is a instrument that meets the needs of a variety of musicians and environmentally conscious people.
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(3). "How Guitars Are Made - Yamaha Guitars." Yamaha Guitars How Yamaha Acoustics Are Made. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.
(4). "Corporate Information." - Yamaha. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.
(5). "SVC-110SK - SILENT Cello™ - Strings - Musical Instruments - Products - Yamaha United States." SVC-110SK - SILENT Cello™ - Strings - Musical Instruments - Products - Yamaha United States. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.
(6). "How It's Made Electric Violins." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.
(7). "Aitchison & Mnatzaganian Cello Specialists." Aitchison Mnatzaganian Cello Specialists. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.
(8). "How Plastic Is Made." PlasticsEurope. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.
(9). "D'Addario Strings - How It's Made." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.
(10). "About the Amplification of Acoustic Stringed Instruments - Verweij Snaarinstrumenten." About the Amplification of Acoustic Stringed Instruments - Verweij Snaarinstrumenten. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.
Professor Christina Cogdell
Mar 9, 2016
Electric Cello and the Waste
Technology has revolutionized the world of music by introducing classical instruments with their electrical counterparts, such as the electric cello. Over centuries, the tradition of handcraft, craftsmanship and care associated closely with creating the cello(Albrecht). While some of these traditional aspects remain in the process of creating the electric cello, machines have replaced most of the labor involved in woodcutting, transportation and assembling; resulting in the emission of waste and harmful chemicals. Many of the electronic components added onto the electric cello also yields the exploitation of metal and further pollution. Although the electric cello is not a massively produced item, this product ties closely to globalization and the Carbon era that has dominated our life because of the unsustainable nature and the amount of waste involved to produce the product. We chose to research upon a particular model of electric cello, the Yamaha SVC-110SK cello. The body of the electric cello is mostly composed of spruce wood, the neck consists of maple wood, and ebony is used in the fingerboard and peg sections(Kasha). The electric cello differs greatly from the classical cello because the electric cello that relies on electronic amplification, rather than acoustic resonance.
The gathering, production, and transportation of raw materials ties closely with the idea of globalization. For every component that involves machinery or factory work, electricity is being used. Although the amount of coal emission is unable to be calculated due to the fact that it is unknown how much electricity is used, coal emission contributes to the waste product. Spruce, and maple are the two main materials used to create the Yamaha SVC-110SK. Since Yamaha is an international corporation, they have access to many of the materials that are not available in the U.S. Although we could not contact Yamaha and ask about this specific product, we referred to many of other Yamaha product to receive information on our Yamaha product.
In the wood collecting process, a forest harvester hand picks the wood, then uses electric chainsaw to cut the trees down, then the wood is transported through trucks and shipped to the instrument maker’s workshop. The usage of electric chainsaw, the transportation of the wood and the later, the factory processes all involve fossil fuel from the use of electricity, therefore each aspects contributes to the production of carbon emission. The procedure of removing a single tree also directly releases carbon dioxide. Trees absorb carbon dioxide in order to produce oxygen, however when a tree is cut down, the reserved carbon dioxide will be released into the air. Many harvesters are conscious about the treatment of left over wood, however if one neglects to go through the necessary processes, the outcome can be harmful to the environment. If the left over trees were not preserved or treated properly, the rotting of the tree at the methanogenic stage will produce methane gas, which is over twenty-three more harmful than carbon dioxide(Richard). Since trees are major oxygen producers, the elimination of trees will also propose problems about global warming. The wood-treatment process releases some carbon waste emission in the electric cello life cycle. The transportation of the raw material makes up the next big chunk of waste and emission that can be tied to the electric cello.
Materials are harvested from all over the world to produce parts for the different components of the electric violin. Maple is harvested from United States and Canada, spruce is harvested from Canada, Japan, while ebony is harvested from Africa and Southeast Asia. Shipping and trucking being the main transportation tools, large amount of carbon dioxide emission is released from these systems. It is estimated that over fifty pounds of carbon dioxide is emitted to transport wood within United States in the form of trucking. Along with the mass emission from trucking, the concern of ballast water on ships (Tamburri, Mario N) also exist within the other form of transportation. Ballast water is fresh, or salt water containing sediments that are held in tanks and cargos to increase stability. By containing microorganisms from one part of the globe and introducing them to other parts of the globe, this process endangers the ecology with the introduction of new species with the risk of wiping out the native species. Some can lead to further problems damaging the ecology, as well as the water quality of the local environment. Contamination of an eco-system as well as the large production of carbon dioxide are involved in the transportation of raw materials needed to produce the electric violin.
The crafting process for the electric violin proves to produce the least amount of waste in the whole life cycle. The traditional handcrafting techniques are still utilized to form the body, peg, neck and ribs. After the woods arrive at the different workshops, artisans then use saws to cut the wood pieces into the desired shapes, then after a process of sanding, pieces are assembled by using animal hide glue which does not emit very much waste products because creating animal hide glue is a protein naturally extracted from the hydrolysis of collagen. After the wood parts have been glued, assembled, the electric cello is then finished up with coats of varnish. Varnish provides the shine that is seen on most musical instruments and it is made from taking oil from different trees and combining them to create the shine effect. The steam distillation process to withdraw oil from plant requires a fossil fuel power as well as water, although a small amount, carbon emission is still released. While many models of electric cello do not necessarily use varnish for plastic body, Yamaha SVC-110SK is an exception because the body, neck and peg are made out of wood. The distinct smell of many of the wood instruments are also mainly from the varnish used, while many think that they are smelling natural smell of the wood, they are inhaling VOCs from the varnish coats.
After applying varnish, strings and other accessories are added. While most cellists choose natural catgut strings for their superior tone quality, many still fall to synthetic and metal strings that are made of nylon wrapped with aluminum(Hart), for their long-lasting nature. Aluminum, iron, steel factories are closely associated with carbon dioxide emission as well as graphite, knish particles as outputs (Machemer, Steven D). The production of aluminum can relapse perfluorocarbon emission, two perfluorocarbons, tetrafluoromethane and hexafluorethane, that are potent greenhouse gasses (Gibbs et al). The production of nylon may also emit carcinogens, respiratory inorganics, terrestrial eco-toxicity in the process of creating caprolactam, an essential material to make nylon.
Most of the waste emission for the electric cello comes from the transportation process as well as the production of some of the metal parts for the cello strings. While the hand crafting task do not release too much waste emissions, the maintenance of the instrument also does not release much emission. Musical instruments do not necessarily last for a long time, in order to maintain the condition of the instrument, strings and other parts must be changed and toned. The electric cellos differ greatly from the tradition cello in this area because they tend to last for a longer time. While traditional cellos are thrown away after they lose their splendor and tone, electric cellos can be fixed and refurbished by factories. With the handcrafting factor attached, electric cello is seen as a piece of art by itself, especially the Yamaha SVC-110SK, since it is not massively produced and the price is very high, people would not throw the cello away so the un-recyclable nature of the instrument is not too much of a concern.
When most people look at the electric cello, they probably do not think of the complex, intricate components that make up the instrument. Although the electric cello includes many machine made parts, there are still many wood and handcraft parts that are important in the making of the electric cello. As technology advance, industries are starting to evolve and change the music industry by introducing more and more electric instruments. Longer-lasting utility value and consistent sound quality has moved people to fall to these instruments rather than traditional ones. However, the problem that one can not entirely recycle the electric cello need to be further explored and solved. Perhaps making the instrument body out of recyclable bio-degradable product or further promote the use of animal-hide strings over synthetic ones.
Embodied Energy of an Electric Cello
The electric cello uses traditional and modern components to provide a hybrid product both sustainable and unsustainable. The hybrid product does through a series of energy needed steps in order to be manufactured and recycled. There are about four total steps involved. The first step to think about in the complex life cycle are involved with raw materials, how they are taken out of the ground, the kinds machines are used to extract them, the energy/fuel sources used, how the raw materials then get from the point of extraction to the factory where they are manufactured, and types of transportation involved. Aside from obtaining the raw materials, how the product is manufactured from raw material to the desired form is the second step in the complex life cycle. It takes a lot of energy in the form of fuel. The third step in the energy life cycle is crucial and that is how long and far transportation of the raw materials take to the desired location. The last of the complex life cycle are recycling and waste. They are a big portion of energy consumption. Some things to think about in this step are the machinery involved in the recycling and dumping process. The major material used is the determinant of how sustainable the electric cello is. Although the materials, energy, and waste involved in the overall lifespan of our product is unsustainable, the Yamaha SVC-110SK electric cello proves to be as sustainable as its classical predecessor. This can be done through understand the various processes it goes through.
The first reason why the Yamaha SVC-1100SK proves to be sustainable, can be proven within the first step in the complex Energy Life Cycle. It starts from the simple steps of obtaining the raw material. When it comes to raw materials used, they can be put into two categories, sustainable and nonsustainable. This is the determinant factor of whether or not the product is sustainable or nonsustainable is the sustainable material that will be talked about first and that is wood. According to YAMAHA Corporations, the electric cello is made of three different types of wood. The names are maple, ebony, and spruce. According to the BSLC (Binational Softwood Lumber Council), wood has been used for “thousands of years” as a building material that has “huge environmental benefits.” According to BSLC, it is also known to be “completely biodegradable, works as an effective insulator, and is 100 percent renewable”. It is also found that to “ensure” that it is sustainable, “wood products from certified forests” are specified. This marvelous material can only come from trees which takes huge amounts of energy to grow. According to the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDF), a tree starts as “a seed”. The process that needs energy is the growth. The energy process that trees need in order to make their own food, according to VDF, is called “photosynthesis”. In this case, solar power is the main source of energy. It fuels the tree’s ability to intake, according to VDF, “water, nutrients, and carbon dioxide”. These are then combined to produce “sugar and oxygen”. The trees then use these sugars for fuel. According to Batter Homes and Gardens, a tree can take up to “20 to 30 years to reach its full size”. This is the first of systems of the energy use.
The second system of energy use is how the raw material can be taken out of the ground. According to Wikipedia, this process can be done with a “harvester”. It is a type of “forestry vehicle” employed in “cut-to-length logging operations for felling, delimbing, and bucking trees”. The vehicle is powered by “one operator” and “controlled by a computer”, and electricity. “A chain saw” is used to cut the tree “at its base, the “curved delimbing knives” helps to remove the branches, the “two feed rollers” rotate in order to “cut the tree” stem, the “diameter sensors calculate the volume of timber harvested”, and the “measuring wheel measures the length of the stem”. All of these mini steps require energy in the form of electricity. According to Britannica, many of these species of trees come from all over the world. Like for example, “ebony comes from the species of trees with the genus Diospyros” which can be found in India. The spruce tree comes from “regions of Northern American and Asia”. As you can see they are from faraway places. It would take different types of transportation to get the raw materials to the “Yamaha Corporation of America” in Buera Park, California. The different types of transportation would include shipping, by train, or plane which will take on the different forms of fuel like coal, oil, gas, and electricity. From here, raw materials get transported to the Yamaha International Corporation and from there the raw wood materials are crafted. All of these processes include a form of energy.
The major unsustainable parts of the electric cello are made of plastic. These parts include the tailpiece, sensor, electric controls, in/out jacks, power supply, and strings. The energy used to make the plastic materials include electricity needed to power the Injecting Press Machine. It also takes an operator to work the machine. According to Plastics Europe, plastics are “derived from organic products” and the materials used in production of plastics are natural products such as “cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt, and crude oil”. In order for crude oil to become useful, the “mixture of thousands of compounds must be “processed”. The plastics need to go through a process called “distillation”. The other two major processes used to produce the plastics are called “polymerization and polycondensation” which requires specific catalysts. These processes require huge amounts of electricity to run. The two different types of plastics can be separated by the processes they go through. The first process is “thermoplastic” which “softens” when “heated and hardened” when “cooled”. The second process is “thermosets” which “softens” when they have been “molded”. The stages it goes through from cooling to heating uses an excessive amount of energy. As you can see, to create these accessories needed to be attached to the wooden spruce body of the electric cello, it has a whole separate process on its own.
After the wood has been chosen, harvested, and transported to the YAMAHA Corporations of America, Energy is used to process the wooden raw materials into a specified form. There are two different ways. According to a Youtuber called thematteofantoni, every cello can be “hand carved” by someone who specializes in this art. According to Violinist.com, it takes “250 hours” to build a violin or viola and about twice as much time to build a “cello’. The amount of hours are about 500 or more hours in order to fully handcraft the different parts of the cello. Hand Crafting a cello is its own process in itself. It takes many hours of dedication and energy from the craftsmen. This technique was used over many years and is still in use today to create the perfect sounding instrument.
The alternative modern technique, aligns congruently with hand-carving everything, is digitally copying the different parts using an X-ray computed tomograph (CT) digital scan. According to the article, Measuring Wood Density, by means of X-ray computer tomography, the “X-ray computer”, is “a method which enables quick estimates of wood density”. This (CT) method enables the ability to “compute 3D maps of objects”. The X-rays can operate in different x-ray energies. After, the images are imported to a computer. Using software, they are “converted to stereolithography (STC) Files of the virtual object”. The files are then “imported to a computer” which is attached to a software program called the “Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machine”. This machine is “programmed to carve new parts of the scanned original string instruments”. Another type of X-Ray is the polychromatic. It becomes more “penetrating” as it goes through matter. This effect, is called “beam hardening”, and is considered and corrected in the reconstruction process. According to Measuring Wood Density, these studies are done to measure the cubes so that they can later be used for specific purposes. It is important to note the “different amounts of water” because the amount if moisture changes the scanner measurements. “CT scans can also provide accurate estimations with “image acquisition (R^2> 0.999 and RMSE ranging between 5.4 and 7.7 kg m^ -3for wood densities ranging between 5.4 and 7.7 kgm^-3) (measuring wood density,pg 9). The calibration equation depends on the current voltage (120 kVp). It takes electricity to power these machines. The direct energy is the largest contributor in the embodied energy of the cello.
The next use of energy is to think about is transportation. The specific numbers for how long and far it would take to carry the products could not be found. According to Goods-delivery box with Easily Breakable Walls and Method of Delivering Goods, the delivery of the box is most important when transporting the product. In a specially designed box, there are “plural walls defining an inner space”. There is alsoa ‘padded structure provided among the plural walls in such a manner as to make the inner space have a cross-section corresponding to the cross section of the body so that at least the body is housed in the innerspace in an attitude that crosses the section of the body and overlaps with a cross section of the inner space. The corrugated” cardboard delivery box has a bottom wall, side walls, rear walls, and a pair of foldable lids. “The breakable wall is connected to the plural walls and has a breakable router weaker than a remaining portion of the breakable wall”. As you can see, the delivery box is a process on its own. According to Wikipedia, most types of “cardboard” are easily recyclable except for boards that had been “laminated “, “wax cooled”, or treated with wet-strength. Cardboards can be recycled industrially.
The direct use of the electric cello is one of the major determinants for whether it can be considered sustainable. In order for the Electric Cello to work, it takes energy. The outlet is where you get electricity from PG&E of about 120V, to where its plugged into an amplifier using 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Along with electricity from the wall outlet, the electric cello also uses AA batteries of 1.2V and 2,400 mA. To produce sound, the electric cello requires work from a musician. According to Wikipedia, sound energy is a “form of energy associated with the vibration of matter”. It is measured in “SI units or Joules”.
Although the processes of an electric cello are nonsustainable, the majority of the raw materials used can be recycled. According to Recycled Wood, recycling wood is a great way to get “free wood”, “keep useful things from landfills, and a few trees. It is known that recycled wood can also be known for “cooking, heating, art, toys, tools, furniture, and construction. According to Wikipedia, plastic recycling is part of “global efforts to reduce plastic waste streams”, “especially the approximately eight million metric tons of waste plastic that enters the earth’s ocean every year. Plastic recycling includes melting down the products where there is no “true cycle in recycling. According to Wikipedia, recycling plastics should be “referred to as downsizing”.
Looking throughout the different processes involved in creating the electric cello, it can be concluded that the electric cello’s processes are unsustainable which means that the different machines and transportation systems used to make this are unsustainable. However when thinking about sustainability in terms of recycling, the majority of the electric cello is made out of wood which deems to be recyclable.
There have been failures to find the exact measurements of energy used to make each individual wooden part of the cello, how far and the weight of transportation, and more in depth information of each plastic piece.
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