I'd like to start a thread on this subject, which will probably be of more interest to the guitar players here.
Due to environmental concerns it looks as if the use of Rosewood and Ebony for guitar fretboards and bridges could be a thing of the past very shortly. Certainly the days of rejecting a lot of wood to find a faultless piece for a fretboard have gone. How long before maple, mahogany, cedar and spruce follow? I know that luthiers generally keep a stock of materials for their guitar building, but I can't help wondering if the guys making guitars now may be the last generation to use the exotic tonewoods.
So that makes us on to alternative materials. I've recently become aware of a paper/resin composite material called Rocklite Ebano that can be used to replace ebony for fretboards and bridges. Martin are already using a similar material, Black Diamond Richlite®, to replace ebony on their products.
As regards guitar bodies well various plastics have been used in the past, perhaps Ovation being the most well known, although that wasn't for a guitar top. The reverse of what they did was looked at by the University of Loughborough in conjunction with Gordon Giltrap (guitarist) and Rob Armstrong (Luthier) - an acoustic guitar was produced with a wooden body, but polymer top. Gordon went on to record an album with it. We've now got carbon fibre guitars too.
So lastly onto fretwire - not due to envirmental concerns, but there are more alternatives available now, such as stainless steel.
I'd be interested to know if any of the players here have any experience of the more modern materials and how they feel about moving away from the woods that have traditionally been used in guitar manufacture.