Podcast 294: Bruce Harvie (Orcas Island Tonewoods)


For forty years, Bruce Harvie (Orcas Island Tonewoods) has carved out a nice existence for himself in the instrument making world as a tonewood supplier. His one-man operation is based in one of the most beautiful spots in North America (Washington State’s San Juan Islands), where he sells spruce, redwood and other raw materials to mandolin and bowed instrument makers around the world. He’s also a prolific musician.

Though he makes his living selling hand-selected wood, Harvie is quick to point out that there’s great instrument-making materials all around us, for cheap. “It’s amazing how many mandolins get burned,” he says. “I’ve gotten a lot of wood out of firewood piles.”

On this week’s Fretboard Journal Podcast, we talk to Harvie about his early instrument building days, how he sources and selects his tonewoods, and about some of the lesser-used woods in instrument making that deserve a chance.

Follow Orcas Island Tonewoods here and listen to Bruce’s new album on Bandcamp here. And check out some photos of Bruce at work below (archival shot of him with his electric mandolins from David Gans).

This episode is sponsored by Mono Cases and Retrofret Vintage Guitars.

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