The Feds Environmental Police…

go after Gibson Guitars. Apparently the Feds have decided to go after instrument makers and potentially individual owners of instruments to make sure the wood is PC. This includes, apparently, vintage instruments made long before these regulations were passed.

…The tangled intersection of international laws is enforced through a thicket of paperwork. Recent revisions to 1900’s Lacey Act require that anyone crossing the U.S. border declare every bit of flora or fauna being brought into the country. One is under “strict liability” to fill out the paperwork—and without any mistakes.

It’s not enough to know that the body of your old guitar is made of spruce and maple: What’s the bridge made of? If it’s ebony, do you have the paperwork to show when and where that wood was harvested and when and where it was made into a bridge? Is the nut holding the strings at the guitar’s headstock bone, or could it be ivory? “Even if you have no knowledge—despite Herculean efforts to obtain it—that some piece of your guitar, no matter how small, was obtained illegally, you lose your guitar forever,” Prof. Thomas has written. “Oh, and you’ll be fined $250 for that false (or missing) information in your Lacey Act Import Declaration.”

0 thoughts on “The Feds Environmental Police…

  1. I have kind of a personal stake in this. Musicians, like myself, purchase instruments in good faith presuming that the wood used was ethically obtained. I’m not in favor of taking down rare trees to make my basses yet unless I have a personal relationship with the person(s) making my instrument I have no idea where they obtained the parts of my instrument. This is even more difficult since many instruments are now made overseas.

    It also presents a problem for the future. For example one of my current basses is made of swamp ash a fairly common wood. In twenty years if for some reason swamp ash becomes endangered I will have to carry “papers” for my instrument proving that I purchased this before the swamp ash was endangered and if the local clerk or bureaucrat refuses to accept the papers then I will have to pay a fine or forfeit my instrument even though it was made and purchased years ago when such regulations did not apply.


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