Western Yew


West Coast Guitar Series

All guitars in the West Coast Series only use locally harvested woods from the west coast of BC. From Vancouver Island to the Skeena River, BC has the largest biomass per square meter in the world. The BC Raincoast is responsible for some of the most important tone woods used today in musical instruments. I would personally LOVE to get more experience playing instruments restricted to local Raincoast and Boreal forest woods. The few I have played have been SPECTACULAR!! I look forward to showcasing the power of the Raincoast and its incredible history here at Symphontree Music: in word, wood, and song.

Western Yew : Taxas breviofolia

  • Specific Gravity: .67
  • Avg. Weight Per Board Foot: 3.5 lbs
  • Color Range: Brown – Red – Gold
  • Typical Width: 3″ – 12″
  • Typical Length: 6′ to 10′ feet

Western Yew is a Native Pacific Northwest wood with an extremely rich history and gorgeous tonal qualities. Unfortunately it is very rare to hear or play guitars that use this local legendary wood.



Beach Harvest, Puget Sound

Original acrylic 24″ x 36″ by Bill Holm © 1988

The above painting depicts a typical scene amongst Coastal First Peoples: a woman digging for food with her yew stick. Yew wood is highly valued for its strength and resiliency. The Haida, among many other first nations groups, used yew wood for clubs, spears, boxes, awls, wedges, digging sticks and spades, halibut hooks, knives, small dishes, masks, paddles, and bows.



Yew wood was, and is, an important medicine for First Peoples of the Northwest Coast. Western Yew has become world famous with the discovery in the 1960s of a potent anticancer drug, Taxol (paclitaxel), in its bark. Within a short time, western yew trees all along the pacific coast were being exploited for their bark.



Before the commercial harvesting of Yew bark, it was generally considered a trash tree by the forestry industry. Many were simply cut down and burnt or left to rot.






Some aboriginals ate the berries of the yew tree but it was known that if a woman ate too many, she would become sterile. Although the flesh of the berry is edible the seed is toxic. If the seed is swallowed whole it is not harmful, but if it is chewed it may become toxic, even fatal.



Yew was also highly regarded as a spiritual wood among First peoples. Posts for Haida shamans’ grave houses were always made of yew wood. Yew trunks tend to hollow out as time passes, leaving no tree rings to determine its age. Yew also grows new trunks from the original root bole, symbolizing death and reincarnation.

If you are at all interested in getting your hands on a guitar made with this spectacular wood then please inquire today.



West Coast Guitar Series

Joe Young

The Blonde: Spruce Top,Yew Back,Sides,Neck,Fretboard,Yellow Cedar and Yew Neck,Yellow Cedar Burl Rosette and Tail Wedge, Big Leaf Maple Bindings, Yellow Cedar Burl Bridge  SOLD

West Coast OM : please inquire, this build will be on Joe’s bench this fall. You can reserve or customize this instrument with a deposit of $2000

West Coast Parlor : please inquire, this build will be on Joe’s bench this fall. You can reserve or epitomize this instrument with a deposit of $2000