Guitar Aficionado: What the Lacey Act Means for Guitar Makers



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Neil Matthews

It's a real shame that the Gibson case has become so politicised. The Lacey Act was updated in 2008 primarily to address illegal logging that was driving many tropical hardwood species to extinction. Gibson was guilty in this regard in making a very bad business decision to buy Madagascan rosewood when it was obvious it had been ripped illegally from Madagascar's rapidly shrinking National Parks - it doesn't exist anywhere else!

And following the Gibson investigation, Lacey is doing it's job - wood importers are now paying full 100% attention to their supply chain for fear of being raided by the Feds. In the past nobody cared where wood came from, how it was harvested, were the correct fees paid, just as long as the quality was OK.

As this article says - the Gibson case is a game changer for the music industry and about time too!


sonic tooth

Great article from Aficionado. Bob Taylor is educated on the subject and makes very reasoned statements. This is a complicated issue and one of personal interest because I own a number of Gibsons, one of which has an ebony fingerboard. I'm certainly not taking that axe out of the country.

One point I would like to make is that Henry J's participation in the Rainforest Alliance and Gibson's sourcing from wood meeting Forest Stewardship Council certification requirements is irrelevant. The USDA Lacey Act website FAQ page states that third party certification will not guarantee that products cannot be held based on suspicion of illegality because "most certification systems for forest products are voluntary, private sector systems, the accuracy of which cannot be readily determined by the government". What needs to happen is guitar manufacturers need to be given a means to provide CITIES paper work to people who are shelling out thousands of dollars for their instruments.

I think the rhetoric accusing Obama of personally having it out for Gibson needs to chill. I am not about to buy into the notion that with all that is going on in the world the only thing the president wants to do is take out non-union GOP contributing business. The 2008 Farm Bill provision is clearly flawed and the government is not capable of managing imports of wood to meet the bills provisions but I lived in eastern Europe in the late 80's and can tell you from experience Obama's America isn't a totalitarian regime by any stretch of the imagination. These are more just more growing pains that America is feeling as the globalization of the world economy continues. BTW, before anyone starts blowing Gibson, how many Americans no longer make guitars because Gibson wants to undercut their own quality and reputation with their sanctioned knock-off MIC Epiphone line?



Since Gibson's innocence has been backed by the supplier whose 'clerical errors' led to these illegal government attacks, as well as the countries directly affected (Madagascar in '09, India now), it is painfully obvious that we are dealing with an administration and (in)Justice Dept that are agenda/politically driven in their attitude towards business. Why they have targeted Gibson is a bit of a mystery, except that Gibson remains non-union and Henry J contributes to the GOP and conservative causes. What concerns me is the roaring silence from the other major guitar manufacturers, especially since they all use basically the same woods from the same supplier. Are they afraid of incurring the wrath of Mr. Open and Transparent himself, thus facing similar trumped up charges and illegal raids? And how about all of Gibson's endorsees, like Slash, Billy Joe Armstrong, etc? Many (most) of these people CLAIM to be fervent environmentalists, as well as vocal backers of the Obama regime. Roaring silence from them as well! They refuse to come to the aide of the company that has given them thousands of dollars of gear and advertising. Nor do they come out vocally in support of the raids and the stated goals of them. Why is this? Obviously they don't want to criticize Herr Obama (fear again?), but don't want to bite the hand that feeds them either (Gibson). They are sitting there with their fingers in the wind, waiting to see what happens. This is called hypocrisy! I have, on other sites, called upon these big-dollar musicians to make their voices heard. If you back Gibson and believe they are being singled out unfairly, SPEAK UP! If you back the Obama administration and it's radical, anti-business agenda, say so. And while you're at it, return any and all gear that Gibson has given you over the years! Every guitar, pick, string, case, or anything else you have received from them. Gibson then can choose whether to sell these items to private individuals or donate the gear (or proceeds) to the charity of THEIR choice. Quit your hypocritical silence, and put your money where your mouth is!

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