This is the story of how Fender and the Empress tree got together. A few years ago, I found out that Fender [the guitar manufacturer], was doing a whole new line of guitars. The founder was testing over 30 types of lumbers world-wide. I knew we needed to get my Empress wood in that mix. So, I sent them a bunch of lumber samples.
In the end, it was our Empress wood that was selected as Fender’s #1 choice for the most perfect tonal quality and its light weight. One musician described the tonal quality as “crisp’. We sold that lumber to Fender in spreads for ten dollars a square foot. Fender didn’t anticipate the excitement there would be over the Empress guitar line and sold out every one they made. Unfortunately, it was impossible for us to resupply them with more Empress wood to the scale that Fender wanted. We are still growing our own trees. And there just isn’t that much available in the world at a price that would make sense.
But, when you have something that’s good, something that aligns with the universe, then something else happens and events just flow. Now, I’d known for years that President Jimmy Carter had 15 acres in Plains, GA. planted with Empress trees that were mature and ready to be harvested. Jill Stuckey, a long-time friend, was able to get us a brief introduction to the President at one of his Sunday school meetings. Jill told him that that we were with World Tree and we wanted to talk to him about his plantation. And he said, “So you want to harvest it?” And we said, “Yes.” And amazingly, he said, “Ok Jill, you sort that out.”
Later, as Jill and I were walking through the President’s plantation [in April, 2018], I spoke to her about guitars and said maybe what we could do is harvest President Carter’s trees and, if he would grant us exclusivity, we would make a special ‘Presidential’ line of guitars out of it. It was then that Jill told me that they were trying to think of a really amazing event they could organize for the President’s 95th birthday next October.
Now, one thing that many people don’t know about President Carter is that he was the first President to have musicians perform at the White House. He had famous musicians at the White House all the time, and he was good friends with many of them. So, I thought maybe a birthday event could be organized to bring together all those musicians and to introduce the new line of guitars at the same time. So that’s what we’re working on now for next year!