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SurfGuitar101 Forums » The Shallow End »

Permalink Gibson Guitars Made with Illegal Wood?

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Would the Long Tenon construction add more resistence to a set neck? Thread Hijack (sorry)

Los Pipelines - Facebook

This raid on Gibson is just the tip of the iceberg. Scary stuff!

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/business/2011/08/how-turn-guitarists-tea-partiers-take-their-gibsons-away/41787/

Bob

Bob

Environmentally, this is a big problem and the only way to curtail these woods as being sought after is to impose these fines and legislation. The fine for not having the paper for your guitar is kind of still, it should be a three strikes type thing. If people keep harvesting this wood the law is just going to get tougher.

As an owner of a Brazillian Rosewood Martin and a Ebony fretboard Gibson, I really never had any plans to travel over borders with them anyways.

RobbieReverb wrote:

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/business/2011/08/how-turn-guitarists-tea-partiers-take-their-gibsons-away/41787/

"This aggression will not stand, man"
- The Dude

I totally agree that the protection of the endangered trees is valid and in fact critical. But this law is ridiculous. Individuals being required to have paperwork for their instruments is insane. I don't have wood compliance paperwork on any of my guitars, and I doubt that anyone else on this forum does either. Hopefully they won't enforce this on individuals.

Bob

And how would you get wood compliance papers? I have a '62 Martin... The wood was certainly legal back then so why wouldn't I be able to take it anywhere I wanted? And ebony certainly wasn't illegal when my Gibson was made.

I think that getting compliance papers is virtually impossible. It's crazy!

Bob

Thank God for the second amendment. When I think of our elected "leaders", I remember the late Phil Hartman's line on SNL; when, responding to a challenge from Billy Idol: "I've got chunks of guys like you in my stool"! Our "leaders" are the guys we all despized growing up. The sooner we throw them all out of our buildings, the better off we'll be. As an aside, I'll be franchising my "Skip's Discount Pitchforks, Torches, Rails, Tar, and Feathers" business. See this thread for details.

An interview with the CEO of Gibson .

Johnny Rocket
The Monterreys !
http://www.youtube.com/user/THEMONTERREYS?feature=mhum

This is seriously messed up. It's unbelievable (well, maybe not) that there would be an armed SWAT team (or something like it) that would raid this well-established and highly respected business over a simple regulatory issue. How completely and utterly insane is that???? Did they think that Gibson employees could start shooting at them? This sort of a thing should be COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE in a civil society, doesn't matter what your personal political views are. And look at this article below - it appears that the main issue isn't even endangered wood, but rather how Indian Rosewood was processed - by Indian or US workers - and apparently the Feds require that it be Indian workers that process it! Just unbelievable. Meanwhile, ALL US guitar companies import the same wood, including all of Gibson's competitors. Yet it's only Gibson that was raided. It'll be very interesting to find out why - if we ever do.

http://rt.com/usa/news/gibson-guitar-raid-wood-489/

Feds go after Gibson Guitars
Published: 31 August, 2011

The Gibson Guitar Corp is finding itself stuck between a rock and a hard place after federal agents raided their Tennessee plant last week for what the instrument makers say is just governmental bullying.

Gibson plants in both Nashville and Memphis were raided by the federal government last week, though Gibson Guitars believes that they are in the right. Agents attest, however, that materials used by the manufacturer of such iconic instruments as the Les Paul and SG break international laws.

“The Federal Department of Justice in Washington DC has suggested that the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal, not because of US law, but because it is the Justice Department’s interpretation of a law in India,” says Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz in a statement. The legislation in place suggests that if the wood from one tree was finished by Indian workers, the material would be legal, but by completing the process in their Tennessee plant, Gibson is breaking the law. This interpretation comes from federal agents, however, and Gibson notes that last week’s raid took action “without the support and consent of the government in India.”

This isn’t the first time that Gibsons were grabbed by the feds, either. A raid took place at one of their plants in 2009 over alleged violations of Madagascan law concerning environmental legislation; but two years later criminal charges have yet to be filled. Meanwhile, the government continues to hold onto a collection of instruments obtained in the raid.

One of Gibson’s biggest grievances is not against the misinterpretation of the international law but at keeping the guitar makers down at a time when jobs are needed to keep the country’s economy going. Gibson was forced to send workers home last week as agents raided their plants, and production had to be halted while the government got their hands all over their guitars. Juszkiewicz says that Gibson has employed nearly 600 new employees in the US in the last two years, and with 2,000 people earning paychecks from the manufacturers, why does the government need to pick a fight that could prove disastrous for so many that depending on Gibson for their paychecks.

Juszkiewicz adds that the company has lost upwards of $3 million due to the raids.

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/310962

In the Media
Aug 31, 2011 - by ■ Michael Billy

CEO of Gibson Guitar says fed raid cost company $2 to $3 million

When dozens of federal agents raided two Gibson guitar factories -- one in Nashville and one in Memphis -- and seized several pallets of wood they cost the company a lot of dough, according to Gibson's CEO.

DailyCaller.com is reporting that Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz said, regarding the cost of the raid, "my personal guess is somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 million to $3 million."

While the feds are staying muted on the situation, a Gibson press release has revealed some details of the raid.

The raid has resulted in both factories being shut down after dozens of federal agents executed four search warrants.

Gibson employs 2,000 people in the United States, according to Juszkiewicz.

The government is fretting the maker of the famous Les Paul guitar because of alleged violations of recent amendments to the 1990 Lacey Act, which outlaw the import of foreign plants that break a law of the country of origin.

The press release says the U.S. Department of Justice is claiming that the wood in question violates an Indian law that requires the wood to be finished by Indian workers. It also points out that the raid was not supported by the Indian government.

The release, however, also notes that the wood was from a Forest Stewardship Council certified supplier.

Juszkiewicz says the feds are focusing in on his guitar company like they are a solo act while, in reality, there's a full band of companies that import the same wood.

“We don’t what is motivating it,” Juszkiewicz said. “It is one, clear to me that there is some terrific motivation because we are not the only company that uses this type of wood. Virtually every other guitar company uses this wood and this wood is used prominently by furniture and architectural industries, and to my knowledge none of them have been shut down or treated in this fashion.”

This is not the first time this has happened, either. The release notes that a similar seizure took place in 2009:

In 2009, more than a dozen agents with automatic weapons invaded the Gibson factory in Nashville. The Government seized guitars and a substantial amount of ebony fingerboard blanks from Madagascar. To date, 1 year and 9 months later, criminal charges have NOT been filed, yet the Government still holds Gibson’s property. Gibson has obtained sworn statements and documents from the Madagascar government and these materials, which have been filed in federal court, show that the wood seized in 2009 was legally exported under Madagascar law and that no law has been violated. Gibson is attempting to have its property returned in a civil proceeding that is pending in federal court.


Back to me: I guess more 'social justice' requires less legal justice....

Ivan
The Madeira Official Website
The Madeira on Facebook
The Madeira Channel on YouTube
The Space Cossacks on Facebook

Last edited: Aug 31, 2011 08:11:43

This behavior by government agents isn't new; it's just new to musical
instrument makers, sellers and owners. It has a long and sullied history
familiar to owners and sellers of antique jewlery or artists who make
jewlery with antique ivory, owners and sellers of antique firearms and
gun and ammunition makers and sellers generally, and for a short time,
recently makers and sellers of off-road vehicles for young people. Really.
As a child recently testified before Congress, "Give me back my dirt bike; I
promise not to eat it."

Somehow, in the last hundred-plus years, behavior and property went from
legal unless it was carefully and specifically prohibited, to illegal
unless it was very carefully and specifically permitted.

It had been critical, since at least Jimmy Carter's presidency, to
carefully document the legal possession of any restricted items you carry
internationally and make sure you have both import and export documents
completely and perfectly completed and in order before you leave or return
to America. It is up to the traveler to know if anything he carries is
prohibited and may not be transported even if it is legally possessed; you
may have the legal right to take something out of and back into America
but that doesn't mean it won't be confiscated and you won't be arrested
somewhere else.

By the way, this happens all the time in America too. New York and New
Jersey are famous for intercepting the hunting rifles and ammunition of
hunters transferring planes at Newark or JFK on their way to or from
Africa, Europe or South America and arresting the traveling hunter for
illegal possession of weapons. When federal law at last specifically
protected traveling hunters from this treatment, the courts ruled that the
law only allowed a defense against conviction at trial, not protection
against arrest or even against unreasonable bail requirements.

It was only a matter of time until this type of federal action would work
its way over to anything made of wood, since wood is now a federally and
internationally controlled substance. So, yes, international traveler, you
had better have complete documentation of the legality of any and all non-
metal or non-plastic components of your musical instrument, or the exotic wood
of your rifle, or proof that Great Great Great Aunt Jane's scrimsha
brooche was really made in 1842. If not, loss of property will be the
least of your worries, because you are now considered a dangerous
ecological criminal. And, you will be considered guilty unless you can
prove you're innocent.

Just wait. It's going to get a lot worse.

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

Last edited: Aug 31, 2011 10:10:05

I think there was a military coup a couple of years ago in Madagascar, and maybe provided some opportunities for some exploitation of natural resources. I'm just a dumb geetar player, so, know that I could be wrong, and completely full o' sheite!

... some info:

"The filing — which argues Gibson lacks the right to claim ownership over the seized ebony because it is contraband — includes text from internal Gibson emails.

"[A] Gibson employee…wrote that '[t]he true Ebony species preferred by Gibson Musical Instruments is found only in Madagascar (Diospryos perrieri). This is a slow-growing tree species with very little conservation protection and supplies are considered to be highly threatened in its native environment due to over exploitation.' In fact, [he] 'spent two and a half weeks in Madagascar this June [2008],’ writing on his return, 'I represented our company along with two other guitar manufacturers.... All legal timber and wood exports are prohibited because of wide spread corruption and theft of valuable woods like rosewood and ebony.' (Emphasis added.)""

http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0706-ebony_gibson.html

Recent Amendments to the Lacey Act

With enactment of the 2008 Farm Bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008), the
Lacey Act was amended for the purpose of combating illegal logging and expanding the Lacey
Act’s anti-trafficking protections to a broader set of plants and plant products. The following
points and background are designed to provide a concise summary of the amendments as well as
background on the Lacey Act.

v The Lacey Act now makes it unlawful to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire,
or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any plant, with some limited exceptions,
taken in violation of the laws of a U.S. State, or any foreign law that protects plants. The
Lacey Act also makes it unlawful to make or submit any false record, account or label
for, or any false identification of, any plant.

v The definition of the term “plant” includes “any wild member of the plant kingdom,
including roots, seeds, parts, and products thereof, and including trees from either natural
or planted forest stands."

v There are certain exclusions, including: (1) common cultivars (except trees) and
common food crops; (2) live plants that are to remain or be planted or replanted; and
(3) scientific specimens of plant genetic material to be used for research, except, in the
latter two instances, for those species that are listed in an Appendix to the Convention
on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as
endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, or pursuant to any State law
providing for conservation of indigenous species threatened with extinction.

v Beginning on December 15, 2008, the Lacey Act also requires an import declaration for
plants and plant products, except for plant-based packaging materials used exclusively to
import other products. Importers must file a declaration upon importation that contains
the scientific name of the plant, the value of the importation, the quantity of the plant, and
the name of the country from which the plant was taken

v Anyone who imports into the United States, or exports out of the United States, illegally
harvested plants or products made from illegally harvested plants, including timber,
as well as anyone who exports, transports, sells, receives, acquires or purchases such
products in the United States, may be prosecuted. In any prosecution under the Lacey
Act, the burden of proof of a violation rests on the government.

v The defendant need not be the one who violated the foreign law; the plants or timber, and
the products made from the illegal plants or timber, become “tainted” even if someone
else commits the foreign law violation. However, the defendant must know, or in the
exercise of due care should know, about the underlying violation.

v Violations of Lacey Act provisions for timber and other plant products, as well as fish
and wildlife, may be prosecuted through either civil or criminal enforcement actions.
Regardless of any prosecution, the tainted plants may be seized and forfeited.

http://www.fs.fed.us/global/.../Lace...ic_summary.doc

who voted for it and who didn't?:
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-2419

The Customs and Border Patrol summary:
http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/trade/trade_programs/entry_summary/laws/food_energy/amended_lacey_act/

Last edited: Aug 31, 2011 10:05:59

SlacktoneDave wrote:

"The filing — which argues Gibson lacks the right to
claim ownership over the seized ebony because it is
contraband — includes text from internal Gibson emails.

"[A] Gibson employee…wrote that '[t]he true Ebony
species preferred by Gibson Musical Instruments is
found only in Madagascar (Diospryos perrieri). This is
a slow-growing tree species with very little
conservation protection and supplies are considered to
be highly threatened in its native environment due to
over exploitation.' In fact, [he] 'spent two and a half
weeks in Madagascar this June [2008],’ writing on his
return, 'I represented our company along with two other
guitar manufacturers.... All legal timber and wood
exports are prohibited because of wide spread
corruption and theft of valuable woods like rosewood
and ebony.' (Emphasis added.)""

Oh Gibson... They could learn a thing or two from drug dealers.

Everyone, this is very illegal. I bet they found a couple pallet full of this stuff.

And seizing the guns of hunters travelling to Africa is awesome. Pretty much the coolest thing I've ever heard of.

JakeDobner wrote:

SlacktoneDave wrote:

"The filing — which argues Gibson lacks the right to
claim ownership over the seized ebony because it is
contraband — includes text from internal Gibson
emails.

Dave, all that you quoted above is regarding the Fed's first raid on Gibson, and their taking of wood which Gibson has been trying to get back. Gibson's recent statement said this about all that (as I quoted above, just repeating it here):

In 2009, more than a dozen agents with automatic weapons invaded the Gibson factory in Nashville. The Government seized guitars and a substantial amount of ebony fingerboard blanks from Madagascar. To date, 1 year and 9 months later, criminal charges have NOT been filed, yet the Government still holds Gibson’s property. Gibson has obtained sworn statements and documents from the Madagascar government and these materials, which have been filed in federal court, show that the wood seized in 2009 was legally exported under Madagascar law and that no law has been violated. Gibson is attempting to have its property returned in a civil proceeding that is pending in federal court.

"[A] Gibson employee…wrote that '[t]he true Ebony
species preferred by Gibson Musical Instruments is
found only in Madagascar (Diospryos perrieri). This
is
a slow-growing tree species with very little
conservation protection and supplies are considered
to
be highly threatened in its native environment due
to
over exploitation.' In fact, [he] 'spent two and a
half
weeks in Madagascar this June [2008],’ writing on
his
return, 'I represented our company along with two
other
guitar manufacturers.... All legal timber and wood
exports are prohibited because of wide spread
corruption and theft of valuable woods like rosewood
and ebony.' (Emphasis added.)""

Oh Gibson... They could learn a thing or two from drug
dealers.

Jake, please notice that this is from a DOJ motion and is simply an allegation by the Govt. Gibson's point is the correct one - if they truly are guilty, why haven't they been charged with a crime and let the courts resolve this issue? Govt shouldn't be allowed to just take people's property without due process. Where is the due process?

None of this has anything to do with the most recent raid, anyway, which seems to center on Indian Rosewood, which is a legal wood, and whether it was finished by American or Indian workers.

Ivan
The Madeira Official Website
The Madeira on Facebook
The Madeira Channel on YouTube
The Space Cossacks on Facebook

When a state government asserts its authority to seize federally protected property, any property, and destroy it before it can be recovered, no property of any kind is safe.

JakeDobner wrote:

And seizing the guns of hunters travelling to Africa is
awesome. Pretty much the coolest thing I've ever heard
of.

Edit. Lost in the moral certainty that hunting is immoral is the dangerous act of people being arrested and their property confiscated for the crime of having their flights rerouted by bad weather to the wrong airport.

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

Last edited: Aug 31, 2011 12:36:18

JakeDobner wrote:

Everyone, this is very illegal. I bet they found a
couple pallet full of this stuff.

And seizing the guns of hunters travelling to Africa is
awesome. Pretty much the coolest thing I've ever heard
of.

I agree with Jake. It's not the first time Gibson has been in trouble with this. They should learn from the drug dealers if they're going to keep doing it...

Matt "tha Kat" Lentz
Otto and the Ottomans: 2014-
The Coconauts surf band: 2009-2014
www.theamazingcoconauts.com
Group Captain and the Mandrakes 2013
http://www.gcmband.com/
The Surfside IV: 2002-2005, 2008-2009
the Del-Vamps: 1992-1999, 2006-2007
http://www.dblcrown.com/delvamps.html

Instead of looking to those paragons of morality, drug smugglers, for guidance, maybe Gibson should look at what Martin are doing and find quality alternatives to endangered woods, not that people are actually buying the new sustainable-wood guitars in significant numbers yet. They will though, when it's either that or plastic.

Matt22 wrote:

It's not the first time Gibson has
been in trouble with this. They should learn from the
drug dealers if they're going to keep doing it...

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

Good point, Noel. I say that tongue-in-cheek, of course. And I love your use of the word paragons. Not used much these days. Well done!

Matt "tha Kat" Lentz
Otto and the Ottomans: 2014-
The Coconauts surf band: 2009-2014
www.theamazingcoconauts.com
Group Captain and the Mandrakes 2013
http://www.gcmband.com/
The Surfside IV: 2002-2005, 2008-2009
the Del-Vamps: 1992-1999, 2006-2007
http://www.dblcrown.com/delvamps.html

What Gibson is selling is no different from what Martin and several other manufacturer's produce. This all comes back to "why" are they going after Gibson and not the others. BTW, Michelle Obama gave Carla Bruni a Gibson Hummingbird as a gift, so maybe she should be investigated.

Shawn Martin
http://www.drummerman.net
http://www.youtube.com/GKacedrummerman
http://www.facebook.com/drumuitar

Yes, it's supposed to be stronger. At least the manufacturers claim it does because there is more contact area to glue together. Some also claim better sustain. So sorry I took so long to answer.

narciso wrote:

Would the Long Tenon construction add more resistence
to a set neck? Thread Hijack (sorry)

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

Last edited: Aug 31, 2011 14:28:38

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