Reuben Forsland in his East Sooke studio with the guitar he crafted from hemp wood that he hopes will start a conversation about sustainability. (Rick Stiebel - Sooke News Mirror)

Reuben Forsland in his East Sooke studio with the guitar he crafted from hemp wood that he hopes will start a conversation about sustainability. (Rick Stiebel - Sooke News Mirror)

B.C. artisan strikes a chord with unique and thoughtful custom guitars

Forslund channeling Hendrix for Slash and finding Equilibrium for his father with his creations

Every custom guitar Reuben Forsland crafts begins with conversations and connections.

“The focus is how to create an artisan guitar that inspires the player to make an emotional and spiritual connection,” said Forsland in an interview from his East Sooke studio.

“The guitar to a guitarist is their voice. It has a large effect on what and how they express through their music. I think the guitar is the best connection of storytelling outside of written words, and music’s a beautiful way to show that connection.”

Forsland went to great lengths to find a source of inspiration when he was hired by renowned rock guitarist Slash to make an acoustic guitar.

ALSO READ: Groovy B.C. wedding a throwback to Woodstock ‘69

Once he found out Jimi Hendrix was one of Slash’s heroes, Forsland spent six months tracking down Pete Sikov, the owner of the Seattle house Hendrix grew up in.

“I asked Pete if he was open to the concept of using some of the wood from the house for Slash’s guitar, and he was good with that,” said Forsland, who has since completed four other guitars using some of that wood.

Another one of his guitars, Equilibrium, embodies the sense of spiritual connection and conversation that permeates his work.

“It was inspired by my father’s struggles with addiction, and that guitar is a broader conversation about the human experience,” he said.

Forsland, who grew up in central Alberta and Ottawa before moving to B.C. in 2008, worked as a Red Seal carpenter for many years before gravitating towards building guitars.

“I’ve done every field of carpentry, including bridge building, large commercial, custom houses and log homes,” he said.

He also made furniture in the evenings and weekends, searching for something he couldn’t put his fingers on that would feed the creative fire burning within.

After working on skateboards and longboards for five or six years, Forsland crafted his first guitar in 2008.

“I was looking for something different that incorporated my carpentry skills that totally fueled the passion I was looking for,” he recalled. “I felt like, ‘OK, now I know what I want to do’ and wanted to put everything I have into it. I base my work on 50 per cent art and 50 per cent guitar. Every guitar has a part of me and what I believe in.”

ALSO READ: B.C.’s ‘Captain Maniac’ has seen close to 1,000 concerts since 1964, starting with The Beatles

By 2013, Forsland was devoting his time to his business, JOI Guitars, with 99 per cent of his orders coming from outside of Canada. His work has been featured with Jimi Hendrix memorabilia at Northwest African American Museum in Seattle, the Robert Bateman Gallery in Victoria, the National Music Centre of Canada in Calgary, and the Sarah McLachlan School Music in Vancouver.

Although Forsland has worked exclusively on acoustic guitars until now, he was recently commissioned by a musician in New Hampshire to make a reproduction of Eddie Van Halen’s electric Frankenstrat guitar.

When asked if he plays guitar, Forsland shared a story about how he collected pop bottles when he was young until he had enough money to buy a guitar and cover a year’s worth of lessons. He picked it up again in his late 20s, acquiring a level of skill that resonated sweetly through the workshop as he strummed a few chords on one of his creations.

Forsland’s focus these days, however, is on his most recent acoustic creation, the first world’s first traditionally built guitar made from hemp wood, a wood substitute made from hemp fibres.

“It’s 20 per cent stronger and grows 100 times faster than oak,” he said. “Environmentally, it absorbs four times more CO2 in its lifetime than the same area as a forest.”

If just 2.6 per cent of the farmland in the U.S. was dedicated to cultivating industrial hemp, it could displace a massive amount of the annual consumption of wood, letting the trees stand, Forsland said.

Hemp wood is also an agricultural diversity plant that allows farmers to make a good living, he added.

Forsland embraces environmental sustainability with the same passion he brings to making guitars because they strike a similar chord. That’s why he chose Earth Day (April 22) as the perfect time to unveil his hemp wood guitar officially.

“Although this guitar can’t save the environment, it’s a piece of the conversation about what can be created with a sustainable product in today’s marketplace. Hemp wood can have a dramatic positive influence on the future market of wood production.”

Take a listen to a video of Forsland playing the hemp guitar at https://youtu.be/Al6RC2Mnr-o.

“It’s more than just an instrument. It’s an opportunity to have conversations for different reasons, social and environmental.”

Check out joiguitars.com/hempwood for an in-depth tour of Forsland’s hemp wood guitar, and joiguitars.com/guitars for more photos and info on his work.]

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

West Shore

Just Posted

The City of Campbell River will purchase an automated external defibrillator (AED) for the Overdose Prevention Site after a letter from a local paramedic pointed out it doesn’t have one. Black Press File Photo
City of Campbell River to buy defibrillator for downtown Overdose Prevention Site

Local paramedic pens letter asking for city’s assistance after trying other avenues to acquire AED

Campbell River RCMP. RCMP photo
Two knife incidents reported on same day in Campbell River

Stabbing and knife fight both occured on May 13

Cash, drugs and weapons were seized by the Street Crimes Unit on May 12. Photo supplied by Campbell River RCMP
Police recover cash, drugs and weapons after arrest

18-year-old arrested in Willow Point Park for drug trafficking

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Most Read