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Hochschule für nachhaltige Entwicklung Eberswalde

Substitutional material for musical instruments (SubMat4Music)

Building musical instruments is one of the oldest crafts with a huge cultural and traditional heritage. Since ancient times tropical woods have always played a big role in building parts for all kinds of musical instruments. The overall superior qualities compared to woods of our moderate climate zone were always preferred. The use of tropical woods became a long time historical tradition. Extensive world wide use and well-known clearcutting of original jungle as well as its global use for all kinds of economic reasons has led to a worldwide constant threat of the diversity of species. Since January 2017 new trade regulations for over 500 species of animals and plants are in force. They were added to the list of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) - and since then protected timber has become an increasingly world wide issue for building and trading musical instruments. As a solution for this problem, modified domestic wood has been proven as a good substitute material for wood from protected species. Since we identified a threatening of the existence of small and medium instrument building enterprises due to abandonment of tropical wood our motivation is to develop substitutes in the form of modified domestic woods.

The network project SubMat4Music brings together scientists with large expertise in modifying wood, tone wood manufacturers and dealers and Instrument builders to make use of modified wood. Together, we want to create new acoustic possibilities and to exchange experience within the network. Our mission is to reproduce and improve acoustic properties of tonewoods and to create long-lasting products with a high customer acceptance. Our Vision is to address technical solutions within the network, exchange knowledge between science and application and to develop sustainable solutions.

The Network is coordinated and managed by Professor Alexander Pfriem's Lab Group at the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, HNEE. It develops and analyses materials and the needed processes to produce thermally treated wood. Also the acoustic properties of the instruments made of these materials will be analysed. Task of the instrument builders is the processing of the modified wood as well as the determination of the instrument's sound quality and the implementation of the modification processes. Tone wood manufacturers and dealers select the raw materials, deal with the processability of raw material and also apply the modification processes


The Network consists out of two research institutes, a plant manufacturer, a polymer chemistry specialist, a tonewood supplier, a violin maker and 5 guitar builders.


SFA GmbH & Co. KG, Aichstetten

Master of violin-making Frank Frobeen, Hamburg


This project is financially supported by the Central Innovation Program for SME (ZIM) of the BMWi Cooperation Networks.

funding registration number: 16KN072601

Term of grant::

2017-04-01 to 2018-03-30


further information:

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Alexander Pfriem (

Lothar Clauder M.Sc. (

website of the project:

Logo, Wood Modification Network​​​​​​​