Blackbird recently launched El Capitan, the first guitar made of flax linen fabric. This small jumbo model offers the tone and vibe of a vintage wood instrument but is actually crafted of Ekoa, a natural fiber composite made of linen and bio-resin.
For the last decade, Blackbird founder Joe Luttwak has focused on building non-wood acoustics to take on the road. That effort culminated in the development of Ekoa as the first material designed to be better for instrument-making than wood. Linen was the fabric of choice given that it is the stiffest natural fiber available, but creating a composite (fabric + resin) actually fit for instrument craft required years of research and development.
"With Ekoa we wanted to create a naturally derived material that for the first time offers more dynamic range than rainforest wood as well as a better player's experience with significantly stronger and more stable construction," Joe Luttwak commented.
Blackbird introduced their first Ekoa instrument Clara ukulele in 2013, which has since become their most popular model. El Capitan builds on that success with enhanced projection driven by the Ekoa soundboard, which looks similar to wood but is a third lighter lighter. Blackbird's patented hollow neck unibody construction contributes to the world-class resonance and is also unaffected by temperature and humidity changes staying in tune much longer and remaining easy to play. This in contrast to wood which warps and cracks with changes in temperature and humidity while also being highly fragile.