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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 01:49 PM
Original message
Thinking about Gibson Guitar's Problem with Exotic Woods.
Edited on Sun Sep-04-11 01:55 PM by MineralMan
They got in considerable trouble for using some protected woods, specifically ebony, from tropical rain forests in their guitars. I can't comment on their guilt or innocence in that regard, but it got me thinking about exotic tropical woods and the general deforestation of rain forests.

For many years I designed woodworking projects for a couple of woodworking magazines. This was back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Already the concern about rain forest woods was being talked about, so I made a commitment not to specify any such woods in any of my projects, choosing renewable domestic hardwoods that were in no way endangered. Most woodworkers adopted that policy around that time.

However, the musical instrument manufacturing industry did not. In many ways, they could not. In some cases, particular woods contribute to the sound of the instruments. My main interest in musical instrument woods is with African Blackwood, sometimes called Grenadilla wood. It is used in the manufacture of clarinets and oboes, among other instruments, and no other wood or synthetic material has been found that duplicates it for that use. It's also an endangered wood species, and is in the same family as rosewood. The species is Dalbergia melanoxylon. You can read about it at wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalbergia_melanoxylon

It's been endangered and in short supply for decades. But, instead of simply cutting down all the forests where it grows, in places like Mozambique, instrument makers like Selmer and Loree did something else. They began encouraging locals in the places where it grows to practice modern forestry practices and to encourage the growth of new trees of this very slow-growing plant. They also began introducing the species into other areas, like Florida, where it could be grown under managed conditions. The result has been a steady supply of this rare, beautiful, and essential wood for the industry that uses it. Indeed, it's now available to woodturner hobbyists and other woodworkers, since wood suitable for instrument making is only part of the produced wood. Very exacting are the requirements.

The wood was needed. It was endangered. So, the people who require it for their particular industry have worked very hard for decades to ensure that this wood would not disappear and become unavailable. We're still not out of the woods on this, but the progress toward renewability is encouraging.

Perhaps this is how we need to think about natural products like this.
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ProgressiveProfessor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:02 PM
Response to Original message
1. Gibson is only using managed woods
The attack on them is clearly unwarranted.
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bluestate10 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:12 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. Provide proof. MineralMan provided proof for his thesis. nt
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ProgressiveProfessor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:30 PM
Response to Reply #6
12. Here you go...
http://www.gibson.com/en-us/lifestyle/news/gibson-0825-... /

It is not about the wood itself but where the work is done.

For the record, I do own/play several Gibson instruments and consider them superior to anything else in production.
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msanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 03:57 PM
Response to Reply #12
33. Do you have anything other than a Gibson press release?
Anything that refutes the government charges?
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girl gone mad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 04:24 PM
Response to Reply #33
36. According to all of the press reports I've seen..
this same exact wood is perfectly legal when finished by Indian workers.

If true, it's difficult to accept the assertion that this is simply a matter of trying to protect endangered trees.

American LE appears to be protecting Indian export revenue, instead.
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msanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 05:07 PM
Response to Reply #36
39. Again, can you cite an actual source to your claims? nt
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girl gone mad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 05:17 PM
Response to Reply #39
40. For example:
The search warrant said the shipment was improperly labeled as finished or veneered wood, which is legal to export from India. Inside the boxes, however, agents found unfinished ebony wood, they said.

The distinction is important in Indian law, which requires ebony to be finished by Indian workers as part of an effort to add value to diminishing natural resources leaving that country. The Lacey Act requires companies to comply with the laws of the country from which they are exporting the protected materials.]

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110904/BUSINESS/309...


In other words, if Gibson had hired Indian workers to finish these wood components, they would have been in the clear.

You can make a case that India has the right to earn as much profit off of their resources as possible. That's a fair point, and if you believe our law enforcement and judicial apparatuses should be used to protect India's profits, then make that argument. Cloaking a profit protection program in environmentalist rhetoric is basically dishonest.
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msanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 07:25 PM
Response to Reply #40
42. So it is clear that Gibson broke the Lacey Act.
In 2008, Lacey was updated to make sure that not only were US environmental laws followed, but that the environmental laws of the host country, were, too.

What, precisely, is wrong with that?

If you cannot follow the laws of the host country whose natural resources you are using, then you pay the price.

One wonders why a poster named "Progressive" has a problem with hearing the voices of the second and third world.

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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:41 PM
Response to Reply #1
14. So they claim. This is not about Gibson. The Gibson
situation only prompted my post about another industry that is solving their wood supply problem in a good way.

Gibson will have to take care of its own situation. I don't even play the guitar, and am discussing a related, but different topic.
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Lasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:05 PM
Response to Original message
2. Why hasn't the Martin guitar company gotten into trouble like Gibson?
I have not ever noticed Martin getting into trouble like Gibson has, by using prohibited wood. What is it that Martin has been doing differently?
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bluestate10 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:15 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. May be they are truly using managed wood and have legal documents to prove it.
Honestly, why would any DUER defend a GOP contributing, anti union company? I just don't get it, in particular after the OP gave examples of companies that took the route that a PROGRESSIVE company would take to solve their wood supply problems.
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Lasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 06:00 PM
Response to Reply #7
41. I agree with you.
You just don't get it.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:42 PM
Response to Reply #2
16. I have no information about that.
Sorry.
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izquierdista Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:07 PM
Response to Original message
3. Any natural product can be managed well....or poorly
From "ebony" to bluefin tuna. Unfortunately, it costs money to manage it well for the long term, and business is usually concerned with minimizing costs and the short term profit.
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bluestate10 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:16 PM
Response to Reply #3
8. A GOP contributing company, probably more so. nt
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dipsydoodle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:09 PM
Response to Original message
4. Similar issues apply with Pernambuco
The Plight of Pernambuco http://www.bartruff.com/pernambuco /

Oddly enough I've got a pre-1920 Martin Soprano Uke - its got pernambuco pegs. Guess I'd better not even consider shipping it back into the US form whence it came again although I really don't understand the issues with antique instruments. Some of us have the similar problems on ebay if we mention antique banjos with carved ivory pegs. Use the word ivory and it flags - they then want proof of age. Fortunately "carved non synthetic pegs" don't flag.
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bluestate10 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:20 PM
Response to Reply #4
10. People either care about the environment or they don't.
Concern about the environment will sometime inconveniences one and force a search for environmentally sound alternatives. Those that have gaps in the environmental IQ will complain about lack of fidelity or inconvenience.
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dipsydoodle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 04:06 PM
Response to Reply #10
35. Not much you can do
Edited on Sun Sep-04-11 04:07 PM by dipsydoodle
about wood that was used 90 - +110 years ago especially given it wasn't necessarily fresh cut even then.
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bluestate10 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:11 PM
Response to Original message
5. As usual, your logic is superb.
You gave examples of companies that set real life, positive examples. They took a difficult situation and not only got what they needed, but created a new industry. Gibson does not appear to be in that category. I can't see why any DUER would attempt to defend Gibson.
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azul Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:17 PM
Response to Original message
9. But to whom are humans useful?
Biodiversity and sustainable populations are the projects that human efforts should be concentrating on, then we can build the best sounding instruments and dance and sing till the cows don't come home.
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bluestate10 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:21 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. The OP did not opine on your topic. But no sane person would disagree. nt
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azul Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:42 PM
Response to Reply #11
15. The thesis being one species acts to preserve another
because it has a use for it, while other species of less value just disappear in the present mass extinction event?
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:44 PM
Response to Reply #15
18. There is only one species that acts to preserve other species.
That is humans. No other species is capable of it. Humans are capable of both destructive and beneficial actions. I'm writing about a beneficial action. It's being done for business reasons, but there it is.

Please don't try to turn this thread in a direction it did not take. You can start a new thread quite easily if you want to discuss mankind's destructive actions. Thanks.
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azul Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 03:54 PM
Response to Reply #18
32. I was merely asking another if that was the perceived thesis of your thread.
All life is symbiotic. It all acts to sustain and preserve itself. And generally to produce the beautiful, for some odd reason.

Take your thread where you will. Good luck.
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wickerwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 04:03 PM
Response to Reply #18
34. Ants farm aphids for the nectar.
They even move them from one plant to another where they think they will yield more or when their colony is threatened.

And arguably all pollinators are acting to preserve other species. There are dozens of examples of symbiotic relationships in nature- what's the point of making an exceptional argument for human beings?

And as for managed exotic tree cultivation, I'm having a hard time seeing why it would even be controversial. Maybe I'm missing the context for this thread, but who is arguing against it?
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:40 PM
Response to Reply #9
13. Yes, of course. And we'll continue to make music as we do that.
It is not a zero sum game. Music has been used in all sorts of excellent causes and for many excellent reasons.

This thread is about people conserving a lifeform and making people's lives better. It's a pity you don't see that part of my post.
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NYC_SKP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:43 PM
Response to Reply #13
17. We could even use music to enlighten people of all ages to the importance of every thing.
Every single living thing has purpose, and meaning, and the non-living things, too. Music could be part of the messaging!

:thumbsup:
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:48 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. Indeed. And so it has been used by many musicians.
Music is capable of being used for any purpose, from music to inspire warfare and prejudice to music to inspire peace and freedom. In both cases, the same instruments made of the same materials are used. Music, itself is a neutral thing. It just is.
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mattclearing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 03:26 PM
Response to Reply #17
27. Some of us do. n/t
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azul Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:58 PM
Response to Reply #13
22. Sorry if you didn't get where I am coming from.
I agree with you example of sustainable business, and think all businesses should only operate in such responsible manner. I just hope that consumers support such businesses with their custom and can change the present irresponsible business model in time to prevent catastrophe. The legal regulation of business in this regard is a failure and it seems now up to people to support good business practices.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 03:02 PM
Response to Reply #22
23. The typical consumer is totally unaware of the problem.
They seek to buy a particular product, but do not inquire into the sources of the materials that go into that product as a rule. To expect them to do so is to expect too much. It will not happen. We must depend on proper behavior by those who manufacture the products and rely on enforcement of international laws that attempt to preserve such resources. Do not depend on consumers for this. They will not look closely enough at the products. Indeed, they may well not have any way to know or discover problems with such products.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 03:36 PM
Response to Reply #23
30. IMO most consumers do not have the intelligence to be aware of the problem.
Edited on Sun Sep-04-11 03:38 PM by Odin2005
People of average and below-average cognitive ability have a hard time seeing the big picture outside of their day-to-day life. This is why, for example, they grumble about taxes at the same time they grumble about bad roads, not connecting the 2 things; or they think that global warming is false because there was a snowstorm the day before.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 07:39 PM
Response to Reply #30
44. I'm not sure it's a matter of intelligence. I thing that in many cases
Edited on Sun Sep-04-11 07:53 PM by MineralMan
it's just a lack of concern about what goes into things. It often seems like people see only whole objects and do not look more deeply at them. It's a natural thing, I suppose, but it isn't how I approach things. For most everything I own and use, I'm interested in its origins and design, along with the process that it went through and the materials that make it up. I think that's an unusual approach to material objects. I've never really met anyone else who delves into things quite in the same way.

A friend of mine had a strong interest in oriental rugs and collected them. He made a wedding present to my ex-wife and me of one of his rugs. I ended up reading a few books about oriental rugs to learn about them, and finally built a loom and wove one using the same techniques used to make the one I had. It was a small one, and had a design of my own, but used the same techniques. When it was finished, I really understood what went into the rug he had given me. I gave him the small rug I had woven. I'm just weird that way.
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rog Donating Member (301 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:53 PM
Response to Original message
20. Gibson "may" have been thinking along these lines in the long term ...
... but apparently they made a bad choice in the short term.

I posted this link in another thread, but it's gotten real crazy over there. This is just about the most complete article I've found, and includes info about both busts, quotes from the DOJ "Affidavit In Support Of Search Warrant," etc.

http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0902-eia_statement_gibson...

Regarding your excellent thoughts on sustainable long term forestry practices ...


The June 4th (I think this is 2009) government filing in the current civil case, states that:

Gibson sourced its unfinished ebony wood in the form of blanks (for use in the manufacture of fingerboards for Gibson guitars) from Nagel (in Germany), which obtained it exclusively from Roger Thunam (a supplier in Madagascar). Madagascar prohibits the harvest of ebony wood as well as the exportation of unfinished ebony wood.

The filing also refers to internal Gibson emails: A Gibson employeewrote that the true Ebony species preferred by Gibson Musical Instruments is found only in Madagascar (Diospyros 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.

On February 25, 2009, in a reference to the potential long term solution, he wrotethat the company Maderas Barber has been in the business a long time and may be able to help begin some legitimate harvests. Mr. Thunam on the other hand should now be able to supply Nagel with all the rosewood and ebony for the grey market.


So apparently Gibson just didn't feel it should wait around to do it right. They (apparently, because this hasn't gone to court yet) knew exactly what they were doing and did it anyhow, sourcing wood on the so-called "grey market." The more recent raid is for another reason. Apparently they were trying to do an end-run around an Indian statute that was publicly available.


The Lacey Act violation in question concerns Gibsons import of pieces of rosewood and ebony that the government alleges to have been falsely declared both during export from India and during import to the U.S. The sawnwood in question had been exported from India under an incorrect tariff code (HS 9209), allegedly to avoid the Indian governments prohibition on export of sawnwood products (HS 4407); and had been declared upon import as veneer (HS 4408). The affidavit states that this description fraudulently presents as a shipment that would be legal to export from India, and, in turn, would not be a violation of the Lacey Act. According to the affidavit, discrepancies among the paperwork accompanying the shipment suggest that the recipients knew they were purchasing sawnwood.


There's also an excellent NPR article on this that includes audio interviews with an EIA rep., the CEO of CF Martin, etc.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2011/08/31/140090116...

Regarding why CF Martin isn't under investigation, according to their CEO, they stopped importing wood from Brazil in the '90s because of over-harvesting, then when they found out about the situation in Madagascar, they stopped purchasing there, too. They support the Lacey Act unconditionally.

Thanks for an excellent post.

.rog.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 02:58 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. It's a complicated issue, and those woods pass through many
hands before ending up as parts for guitars. If the information you gave is correct, and I have no way of knowing, then they consciously knew that the wood was sourced from Madagascar, and thus illegal to import.

Tropical hardwoods is a subject I've been interested in since the 1970s. I follow it less closely now that I am no longer involved in woodworking professionally, but I still keep an eye on the exotic wood market. It has always been a market that skirts the edges of legality.
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rog Donating Member (301 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 03:10 PM
Response to Reply #21
24. I am just learning about this, and it is VERY complex.
I had no clue about the illegal lumber trade until this Gibson thing came up. The impact on local people, as well as the environment and the survival of the forests is stunning. It's a nexus of corporate greed, international organized crime and corrupt government in an atmosphere of ineffective or non-existent regulation.

Thanks for your insight on this ... I always enjoy your excellent posts.

.rog.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 03:24 PM
Response to Reply #24
26. Thanks for being concerned about it.
It's a very, very old story, really. The exotic wood trade has caused the destruction of rain forests for a very, very long time. Mahogany was the first wood to come into short supply in the 19th century. For a very long time, it was the wood of choice for high quality furniture in Europe and America, and with good reason. It is a beautiful wood that makes beautiful furniture. It's also available in very large widths and is relatively easy to finish and work. The popularity of mahogany led to the destruction of countless acres of rain forest. As supplies of the original wood decreased, similar woods were found in South America, and there, too, the demand for this beautiful wood led to the destruction of rain forests. Today, the wood people think of as mahogany is a different species altogether. The original species of tree that was called mahogany is all but extinct.

Other woods have met the same fate. No sooner does an exotic wood come into favor for furniture, paneling, flooring, etc., than the devastation in rain forests begins anew. Most of these beautiful tropical hardwoods come from trees that take a very, very long time to grow to a size that produces the wood in sufficient quantities for such uses. If demand is high enough, loggers will work to cut down ancient trees as long as they exist and the demand continues.

Many wood species are in danger of extinction. Yet, wood importers and wholesalers in Europe and the United states continue to sell these woods, often long after it is illegal to do so. The German importer named earlier is a prime offender. Ship manifests are altered and few customs inspectors can even identify the woods, since the species is not obvious until the wood is turned into lumber that can be examined. So, logs continue to be imported, bearing names of non-endangered species, then cut into usable form and moved around with false papers and sold.

It's an impossible situation to handle, and there aren't enough experienced enforcement people in the world to do more than slow the trade down a little. There are a number of hardwood importers, even in the US, who continue to sell exotic woods, and few people enforcing the laws. It takes many years to learn to identify species of wood, and similarities between endangered species and other species are often hard to distinguish.

That is why I made the decision not to ever specify any tropical hardwoods for projects or even hardwoods not found in the US, and capable of use without depleting a resource. It wasn't really a problem, since there are many beautiful North American hardwoods, including some that most people have never heard of.

Thanks for being interested.
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azul Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 03:16 PM
Response to Reply #21
25. It is the demand of the market that needs tweaking, somehow.
Brazilian rosewood has the reputation for best sound. It is still being built into guitars, at much greater expense. Other sources of rosewood, maybe more sustainable, are being used in more mass productions but the demand for Brazilian is there. Same for ebony fingerboards, the reputation, and thus the demand is there.

Similarly, the demand is there in Chinese medicine for bear gall bladders and tiger bones and etc., and so desperate and/or greedy people will supply them somehow. How can you convince people that a practice steeped in tradition and usage may be doing more harm to the balance of life than it may be doing good for the lucky or wealthy individual?
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #25
28. Yes. And manufacturers who use endangered species should
be sought out and punished for breaking the law. Gibson will probably have its day in court. I cannot say whether the ebony they had was legally obtained or not. I have a billet of true ebony in my wood stock that I will eventually turn into something beautiful. I know where it came from, and it was cut down over 200 years ago. It's an antique piece of wood that remains unused. I have the paperwork for it that documents its history for the entire 200 years. It's a legal piece of ebony. Such old material actually still exists, but it is extraordinarily scarce and too expensive to use for common objects. I still haven't decided what to do with my piece of old ebony. For now, it will remain as it is.
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rog Donating Member (301 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 03:44 PM
Response to Reply #28
31. OK ... now that's incredible.
I had to comment. Very cool. If you remember, could you let us know if/when you start this project? It must be an awesome feeling to be responsible for such a historic piece.

.rog.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 07:30 PM
Response to Reply #31
43. I bought that turning billet of ebony for instrument making.
I used part of it to turn a mouthpiece for a replica of a 17th century Denner clarinet. The rest, I kept for some other project, but it never got used and the project never got done. So, it sits, waiting for some inspiration worthy of putting it on the wood lathe. So far, I haven't had the inspiration. I will, though, eventually.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 03:30 PM
Response to Original message
29. K&R.
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hunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 04:24 PM
Response to Original message
37. Superb guitars can be built without using endangered woods.
In too many cases (perhaps most) the exotic woods used in high-end "consumer" grade guitars (yes, that's what Gibsons have become) are simply bling, something to show off, like the label of a designer purse.

It's a damned shame.

It'd be nice if musicians (pro and otherwise) put pressure on the industry by purchasing either used guitars, or new guitars made entirely from woods that are not endangered and harvested from ecosystems that are not endangered.
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mulsh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 04:41 PM
Response to Original message
38. There is very little on Gibson's web site about exotic woods.
Both Martin and Taylor have fairly informative sections about their use of exotic and sustainable woods, and participation in groups working in this area.
this is from Martin's site:

Commitment to the Environment
Commitment to Sustainability

Martin Guitar is committed to corporate responsibility and environmental stewardship, and to support this commitment Martin maintains Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain-of-Custody certification. Being FSC certified indicates that Martin complies with one of the highest social and environmental standards on the market. By offering FSC certified products, Martin supports responsible management of the world's forests.

Martin Guitar is a member of the Rainforest Alliance. The Rainforest Alliance works in over 70 countries to manage and conserve natural resources and helped to establish the FSC. In 2009 Martin was one of the first acoustic guitar manufacturers in the industry to produce a guitar model comprised entirely of FSC certified woods. The D Mahogany includes a genuine mahogany neck, back and sides, an Alpine spruce soundboard and katalox fingerboard and bridge.

Martin Guitar is audited annually regarding FSC Chain-of-Custody certification compliance. Many coworkers across all functional areas are involved in maintaining our FSC compliance.
http://www.martinguitar.com/about/commitment.php


Both Martin and Taylor are actively developing fine instruments using sustainable woods. Gibson has been working on "robotic" tuning guitars, which btw aren't selling so well.

I own and play instruments by all of the above manufacturers.
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