Axetrology! How The Moon May Affect Your Guitar

All guitarists like to believe their favorite instrument is a heady mix of great wood, wire, pickups, design, craftsmanship and that indefinable thing we call "mojo." But what if that "mojo" is being controlled by the moon?

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All guitarists like to believe their favorite instrument is a heady mix of great wood, wire, pickups, design, craftsmanship and that indefinable thing we call "mojo." But what if that "mojo" is being controlled by the moon? No kidding. Thanks to a blog in Premier Guitar, it is time to talk about "werewood." What's "werewood"? It's wood made better, apparently, by the moon.

Premier Guitar correspondent Ervin Somogyi wrote a fascinating blog recently about this fabled subject. As a luthier who has been building for 40-plus years, Somogyi knows his timber. And he believes that some woods seem different not because of their different species, but because of when the trees were harvested.

"I've handled planks so heavy that they seemed fresh-felled and still full of water," he says. "And they'd be next to planks that were so light, you could sneeze and they'd practically blow off the pile. But these are woods of comparable size that had been kiln-dried together, so the moisture content would have been the same.

"I assumed this disparity was all normal and natural, until I learned about a European tradition of forestry based on the practice of cutting down woods at specific phases of the moon. This practice of wood felling is built on many centuries of empirical experience and observation, and it yields woods of consistently different density, durability, and working properties."

Bark At The Moon

Is this crazy? Perhaps not. Somogyi says, "wood that is felled in accordance with lunar cycles is referred to as full-moon wood,' though somehow, I'm always tempted to think of it as werewood'." Yep, as in werewolf.

Somogyi researched the subject and concluded that tree-fellers have noted this since the first millennium. "Woods of any one species cut during the new moon, the full moon, or the waning moon, have consistently and predictably produced different results," he writes. "Therefore, a number of especially advantageous uses for timber including guitar tops have been correlated with specific felling dates. These woods for soundboards are available to luthiers and can be found through a simple search by using the keywords full moon wood.

Does that sound even more crazy? But there are other believers. Swiss company www.tonewood.ch in the heart of Europe, love their "full moon wood." We specialize in a type of European spruce known as picea abies, they say. Experience has shown us that the internal resonances of spruce greatly influence the tone of an instrument.

Ancient "Science"

Interested? You can read the academic study Lunar Rhythms in Forestry Traditions Lunar-Correlated Phenomena in Tree Biology and Wood Properties, by Swiss forestry expert Ernst Zürcher. There are some reports that legendary violin maker Antonio Stradivari used only "moon wood" for Stradivarius instruments, those violins being the most collectible in the world.

It's not just instruments, either. South African company ecodesignarchitects.co.za believe harvesting wood the closer you are to the solstice [is] the better so while the time just after the Autumn equinox is still suitable, it is better still to fell as close to the solstice as possible. Furniture builders Unique-rustic-creations.com insist, By cutting wood on the growing moon, you are ensuring that the moisture content is high since the sap is being drawn up into the trunk of the tree, which makes it easier to steam and bend. But it's different for guitar manufacturers, of course.

This all sounds rather unbelievable, right? Until you remember our oceans' tides are controlled by the interaction of the moon and Earth. And some people's sleep is disturbed by the phazes of the moon. So why not timber? It's probably all something we will never understand. After all, we are merely guitarists.

But remember, when you have to sell your beloved 1959 Gibson Les Paul Sunburst, someone somewhere may be haggling, asking: but at what exact point of the lunar cycle was that maple top harvested? You may not have an answer for that.

In the meantime, here's a suggested moon guitar set list to suit "lunatics" of all tastes.

01. "Harvest Moon" Neil Young 02. "Marquee Moon" Television 03. "New Moon Rising" Wolfmother (hey, it's got "wolf" in it too. Watch below.) 04. "The Killing Moon" Echo and the Bunnymen 05. "How High the Moon?" Les Paul and Mary Ford

Thanks for the report to Michael Leonard, Gibson

103 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Prostheta
    What the **** is this? Next we'll be told that pies taste better if baked at certain times of the month. I know it applies to women, but not pies or food.
    hyper5
    I wouldn't call it totally crazy. I have always thought my Gibson LP sounded incredibly better at night. I thought it might have something to do with the temperature/humidity effecting the wood in a subtle way, but it might be that its werewood lol.
    darkblackpoison
    It's not about how wood sounds at night. It's about chopping wood. The wood has different charateristics according to the position of the moon when the wood was chopped down.
    SISO
    It's true that lumbers belive this in Europe, also that the wood wouldn't chip.
    pokerhappy
    Something tells me this entire article was just an excuse to say "Bark At The Moon."
    Artemis Entreri
    Somogyi is unarguably one of the finest if not the finest guitar luthier out there. It's hard to argue with his years of experience and the quality of his guitars but this just sounds ridiculous.
    Louthesnakeman
    hmmmm Might want to keep the silver hardware away from my moonwood guitars... they might turn back to normal
    AmirT
    In a univesity in Great Britain profs discovered that our emotional status effects things. Like being happy can affect the status of microbs in a yoghurt.
    Most_Triumphant
    I think this is pretty interesting. Might not be true, but hell, it makes for an interesting article.
    oxymorcide
    Exactly. Thank you UG. This is wayyy better than some misleading crap about Nickelback, Axl or Courtney Love, the sorta shit that usually comes under news..
    Koekoeksklok
    It would be if the writer of the article did any research on the matter other then just quoting a bunch of people who believe in it. One-sided articles don't make for good journalism. And suggesting it has anything to do with the gravity of the moon is pretty ignorant.
    Le Fantome
    I wonder if they realize that in 'werewolf', 'were' is the Old English word for 'man'. So it isn't Moon Wood. It is Man Wood ... Think about that for a second.
    Danjo's Guitar
    Its possible that there is some plant thing that is involved with the phase of the moon, but I don't think this could affect the density of the wood, seeing as it would be really difficult for the density to go through monthly phases. Pretty sure thats impossible. I could see there being more water because of some monthly process, but if its dried, this shouldn't matter. All in all, probably BS. One of those patterns that humans find only because they're looking for a pattern, not because the pattern actually exists.
    stickman31
    My '74 Tele Deluxe was made on the moon in a secret Fender plant, guys this is really true! Every full moon I grow three extra fingers and shred like crazy because of it!
    Omnisyn
    No "Moonlapse Vertigo" by Opeth? Pfffft they write about nature more than any of those artists.
    Braykah
    Really, UG, you didn't have anything better to write about? Besides - "And he believes that some woods seem different" - there's a pretty huge difference between groundless superstitious belief and actual proof.
    Sundben
    No ''Wolf Moon'' by Type O Negative? Your article is bad, and you should feel bad.
    Pan-Tallica
    Uhhhm. Wood density is affected pretty greatly by (1) the age of the tree and (2) the amount of rainfall the tree has seen in its life. I knew nothing about wood density until 2 minutes ago, when I did a google scholar search and learned these facts. But I guess a guy blabbing about werewood on his blog is pretty good scientific authority, too.
    RealUnrealRob
    Interesting idea, but it doesn't actually make any sense. Felling the trees during a certain time of day might cause an extremely slight difference in the moisture content of the wood, but the moon cycles are simply the earth's shadow on the moon. The moon doesn't actually grow larger during a full moon lol.
    TombOfHorror
    And they forgot Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival!!!
    Blargaha
    But people are not affected by the moon, it has been proven bunk. So therefore the biggest argument for "werewood" disappears. The mass of water inside a trunk is simply not big enough for the moon to have a pull. UG seems to forget that some guitarists also are scientifically literate.
    saint_berzerker
    "Proven"...by who?
    Blargaha
    Study in the Journal For Affective Disorders for example, and that was published in -99. Pretty much everywhere you look, unless on an astrology site (but they are of course biased) you are going to find references to studies debunking the moon affecting us in a significant way. It's a heavily researched topic, so I think we can put that myth to rest, IMO of course.
    l0ld4v3
    The moon can affect someone, on a perceptive level at least. The moon has somewhat of a symbolic meaning in most people, there are cults devoted to the moon for example. It may not have a physical effect on humans, but rather a psychological effect. People can grow quite eccentric.
    Damaged Roses
    It's not because of gravity, it's because the growing cycle of the plant, it's synchronized to the lunar phases. Just like girl's menstruation. Gravity doesn't work there...
    Blargaha
    That womens periods would be synchronized with the moon is one of those myths as well. Just look at the raw data, a lunar cycle is set at 29.5 days, while the average period is about every 28 days. They greatly vary in length and timing from woman to woman. A full moon and a period are both monthly events, but it's not more than that.
    AcousticMetal99
    I think it's not so much the moon pulling water, because, yes, the amount is relatively small. I think, if this is actually true, that the trees will change mineral/water/etc levels between roots & trunk on something approaching a lunar cycle, if that makes sense. But I guess that also means what season it's harvested in also affects the same qualities.
    Blargaha
    But then, how would they know? Plants has no concept of time, they only notice if it is light or dark outside.
    TuningGamer
    The only thing I could think of is that there is more light at a full moon, thus making them grow a little more/different (because they grow both day and night in different lights).
    Blargaha
    But moonlight is a very weak lighting source, it's about 1 lux. Outdoor lighting is quite a lot more, so by that logic that should affect the growth of plants every night quite a lot more than what moonlight does.
    TJWhonley
    in most countries trees aren't grown with outdoor lighting. what the **** have you americans done now?????
    Blargaha
    Well, I am not an american. However, would not streetlights make tress grow very well in that case? I mean, a streetlight is about 150 times more intense than the moon.
    Simsimius
    except there's no outdoor lighting in forests. and even it did... outdoor lighting doesn't fluctuate like moonlight does. and plants can/will be affected by those fluctuations.
    TombOfHorror
    It's been statistically proven that violent crimes increase significantly during the full moon. Particularly among werewolves.
    gnurph
    I've read that to. I've read that on full moon nights, the police are more fully staffed, like all hands on deck. But then again, they may be on full alert for werewolves?
    Iblis92
    Maybe its just cuz you can see easier on nights of a full moon. easier to rob a house?
    TombOfHorror
    I've read that violent crime rates escalate during the full moon. If everyone had a guitar that sounded better during the full moon, maybe they could shed all that crazy by shredding?
    Dolta
    Guitarist aren't stupid. I don't believe in werewood. Like they said....the moon does affect the pull of the ocean.Logically if the moon affects ocean tide then rain patterns should be affected.Agreed?If rain is affected then more moisture should be present in the wood.If this period is consistently during a full moon...
    HardAttack
    No 'Bound By The Moon' by DevilDriver? Maybe it's the blood moon that made my guitar so blood red.
    SurfinWithSatch
    01. "Harvest Moon" Neil Young 02. "Marquee Moon" Television 03. "New Moon Rising" Wolfmother (hey, its got "wolf" in it too. Watch below.) 04. "The Killing Moon" Echo and the Bunnymen 05. "How High the Moon?" Les Paul and Mary Ford 06. "Big Bad Mooon" - Joe Satriani 'Cause I'm a fan boy!
    Idiot Pineapple
    Apparently there was nothing to report about Slash, or Axl, or the possibility of 30 year old band x reuniting, or a new Gibson guitar, or the last thing some guy with no political credibility said about Obama. We at least got news about band x that everyone hates just for pageviews though!
    Battery Chicken
    This isn't a completely crack pot idea, the magnetic pull of the moon has the potential to modify the moisture within the tree. Not sure if it would make as much of a difference as they're saying, but it's not completely batshit insane.
    TextOnTheScreen
    I don't know if anyone has said this yet, but werewolf means manwolf, so werewood means "man wood."
    jaybals
    Seeing as the sun still has a stronger gravitational pull than the moon, surely that would have just as much effect?