Taxus baccata| Tonewood Profile | ”Yew”
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European and Pacific Yew are very similar species, in terms of physical properties.
European Yew is a very slow growing small/medium evergreen attaining heights of 28m and a trunk diameter of up to 4m. Some stands in Scotland are estimated to be approximately 2,000 years old. The fruits are soft, bright red and berry-like. Whilst the seed itself is extremely poisonous, the aril not harmful and very sweet tasting.
The Yew has been exploited throughout history for it’s timber as well as for taxanes. In the Middle Ages, yew was extensively harvested for bowstaves whereas more recently, chemotherapy agents called Taxanes have been extracted from the leaves of European Yew & bark of the Pacific Yew.
This species is threatened by disease as well as demand from pharmaceutical companies. However, conservation efforts are ongoing.
It has a Janka rating of approximately 1,600 lbs-force and a specific gravity of 670kg/m3. It can be stable and durable although the sapwood is susceptible to woodworm attack and many newer trees have spiraled trunks creating problems especially when bending sides.
As a tonewood…
I have found it to be appealing tonally with maple like clarity but very sweet, intimate and appealing overtones. Adrian Lucas finds it “imparts a woody, springy quality to the tone of a guitar.”
Adrian Lucas www.lucasguitars.co.uk
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