Gibson to pay $350,000 in penalties over illegal wood

from today's Nashville 'Tennessean"...

The TENNESSEAN is reporting that GIBSON GUITAR CORP. must pay a $300,000 fine and make a $50,000 community service payment to the NATIONAL FISH AND WILDLIFE FOUNDATION as the result of earlier investigations by the U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE and the U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION.

These investigations concluded that GIBSON violated the LACEY ACT by illegally purchasing and importing Ebony wood from MADAGASCAR and Rosewood and Ebony from INDIA. GIBSON has also committed to implementation of a compliance program designed to strengthen their controls and procedures. GIBSON has furthermore agreed to withdraw its claims to $261,844 worth of wood that was seized throughout the investigation.

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Never let a rainforest get between a capitalist and a fast buck.  

Nice to see somebody standing up for nature and it's endangered species - doesn't happen much these days.  Well done U.S Customs and F&W. 


With you on that Rusty. I hope this leads to a real attempt to clarify the whole CITES documents issue though. It's getting scary using some woods these days.

Indeed, Eric, This is the crux of the matter - we use wood and we use it with a passion - we need good quality tonewoods for our crafts and trades to be meaningful and this means we will continue to need particular species or their equivalents.

The fundamental effect of CITES will be to ensure the survivability of our important species and hopefully, by design, eventually ensure a sustainable supply of particular types of wood.    That we will feel some pain in the industry because of the past excesses of bulk users and those who destroy the forest in the pursuit of a fast dollar, is a given. 

This recent wake-up call will, no doubt, drive the big users away from the rare and endangered woods which will take some of the pressure off the existing supplies and also make us look at viable alternatives that are not under as much pressure.  

I also see the large users taking a fork in the road from the small boutique makers with the quality of the wood they use - this may not actually be a bad thing for the smaller makers who will continue to offer premium quality and tone from the limited supplies of quality wood available and likely to become available.   I suspect we will see more synthetic and hybrid materials make their way onto the mass production scene.

I also note Alexander Lopez making the observation about other wood species becoming more appreciated and add that we will now be more likely to judge on actual tone achieved by selection and build quality/technique rather than automatically paying a fortune for and genuflecting towards any species with the word "Brazilian" in it.   

Fender, who chose to build their guitars out of street trees and prolific breeders and have a history of laminating fingerboards must be popping the Champagne corks as we speak.  Good old Leo must have been clairvoyant.

Interesting times eh?.  Rusty.

I can see guitars built before the Lacey Act going upwards in price. On the flip side, maybe other wood species will become more appreciated.

The real crime here is using that nice wood to build such crappy guitars.

$300K, a gentle slap on the wrist. People love to imagine that Henry Juskiewicz's entire economic presence is based in Gibson. Gibson is his hobby, and a way to make waves for the Tea Party. C'mon, read up deeper.

The company's CEO political party affiliations, his sex life or what he had for breakfast yesterday have absolutely nothing to do with this particular case. A little focus here?  He ran afoul of the Lacey Act, he got caught and now he's paying the prescribed price.  A deeper read into the life and habits aren't necessary.

Thank you Mike

I understand and agree with what you are saying, Mike, but what I got from Paul H.'s post is that the punishment may not do much to deter him and by extension Gibson from engaging in this sort of activity again. I would hope that this is not the case but it's not really much of a punishment.

Paul V, Maybe they will get the Gibson employees together with their families for a huge, exotic BBQ cook off. Anyone know what rosewood smoked brisket taste like?

It's funny.  Most people who were aware of this swore up & down that it was political retaliation by the Fed's.

It's obvious Henry said "We're in a tight spot boys"; so they settled.  For the same company that took some toy maker to court for intellectual property infringement claims*, it sure seems out of character for an 'innocent' respondent.  

The absolute saddest part is that an entire generation or two is brainwashed into thinking current production Gibsons are still the best in the world when, in fact, and given their highway robbery street prices, quite the opposite is closer to the truth. It's not the factory employees' fault, it's HJ's.

I guess they can get caught-up now on their expansive back log of Firebird X's & Robot Les Pauls  (;


* The law suit sought to enjoin the toy maker from producing a LP shaped game controller. The courts ruled a reasonable person would not mistakenly confuse a plastic controller with a real Gibson LP. DUH!!!!!!!!

Wonder what becomes of that $261,844 worth of seized wood?

I heard that the Fed's were going to send it back to its country of origin BUT, the paperwork overwhelmed them!


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