Coming soon! Pau Ferro is the new replacement for rosewood, due to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (of Wild Fauna and Flora)) issues with sourcing rosewood in an environmentally friendly way. We are going to do a few tests on this guitar to test the effect of UV on these new models and materials.
The Fender Player Series is the newest series (2018) for Fender's Mexico produced guitars, and they introduce several new features, including a 2 point vibrato/tremolo, alnico pickups (old ones were ceramic) and the option of a flamed top cap. They still offer a maple capped neck of course, but instead of rosewood, they have decided to go with pau ferro. Because of CITES, I expect a lot of builders will do the same, which is why we are doing this test. They are ranging at US$650-$675, and an extra $100 if you want a Floyd Rose system. That is about 10% higher than the previous "Standard" series it replaces.
Tone and color wise, pau ferro is right inbetween ebony and rosewood. I'm a bit surprised they haven't used it before, as it has slightly more snap than rosewood, while still retaining the warmth of tone. More than likely, tradition is why they stuck with rosewood for so long, and pau ferro might be *different*, but it isn't inferior to rosewood. The color is somewhat in between the two as well, an sometimes with a bit more figuring in the wood, showing more visible grain.
Fender, being the largest guitar company (with Gibson just behind them) might be the first, but they won't be the last to make the switch. It is very expensive and almost impossible to import rosewood in the US, and it can even cause problems with existing guitars at US Customs at the airport, so other brands will follow suit. I also expect company like Mighty Might, Warmoth, WD, Allparts, Musikraft and other Fender licensees to follow suit. These are staple parts for small guitar builders (and perhaps you, who is reading this), and learning how this wood reacts to UV will add an extra tool in your kit.
For this test, I will be using the Solacure SG-1-40, our flagship lamp for curing aging wood. Thousands of people use them for building violins, aging guitars, curing finishes on pool cues, you name it. It is primarily UVA but has just enough UVB grunt to accelerate the oxidation process. The are T12 (1.5" diameter) and 4 foot long, and can handle anything from 20 watts to 100 watts with ease.
The guitar is on order and should be here soon. Obviously, I'm going to play around with it a week before tearing it down and aging out the fretboard. I may age down the maple as well, we will see. Regardless, this will give you, the builder and/or refinishing luthier some new information about how our SG-1-40 lamps work with what is soon to be a very common material in the guitar industry.
* Anderton's article (UK)
* General pau ferro info (Wikipedia)