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I hear that the Gibson factories in Nashville are in trouble with the Feds ( I guess that's the police ) over importation of woods from Madagascar. It seems strange as I understood the acoustics where the rosewood would be used are made in Boseman Montana but that's further north.

 

Being an Englishman from down south UK this is all difficult to understand. I did political economics at college

(some years ago) and I remember a lecturer saying that to understand USA politics it was like this, The Republican party is like the UK Conservative party and the Democrat party is like, well yes the UK Conservative party. But it seems this is not so. Gibson and Martin get there wood supply from the same source but Gibson gets shut down and Martin doesn't. The Martin family are pro democrat I understand but Gibson, well I don't know but the are down south and I have relatives down there and I know how they swing.

 

So does politics effect your guitars? I have a Martin 00028 and a Gibson CJ165. They are the same guitars!

Same size,fit into the same case. Both rosewood back and sides, spruce top, ebony fret board, same bracing same strings you name it and yet they sound completely different. Even my wife, who is quite ambivalent to guitars( you know what I mean) can tell then apart. However I don't hear them arguing at night and they seem to get on rather well but perhaps that's because I don't talk politics to them.

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I wanted to get a post in before this one turns sour.......

 

All I'll say is that it's less likely to 'affect' yours guitars than dramatic weather shifts. ..and I certainly hope it wont 'effect' guitars, heaven forbid one of the manufacturers starts supporting the wah-wah party. ;-)

 

On a serious note, politics, guitars, mix em in a bowl and post online usually equals 'closed thread'

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I wouldn't go there at all. But my new Martin clearly appears more 'yang' than my Gibsons. It is louder, not as vain and has a masculine odor to the case – almost like a touch of white-shirted aftershave.

 

If my Gibsons whispers whiskey, the Mart. says gin !

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.

Conspiracy theories.

 

My take - no politics - originally.

 

In 2009 the FnW believed that Gibson was dealing with a German ebony importer who was using a supplier in Madagascar that was gathering the wood from protected forests. The wood was confiscated and no charges or fines have yet been made.

 

So, in 2009, Gibson came under scrutiny, and in 2011, with Gibson still under scrutiny, suspicious paperwork appears. The paperwork on Indian rosewood of illegal dimensions had the wood classified incorrectly under a code for legal dimensions, and the FnW is suspicious that Gibson had something to do with purposely misclassifying the wood. The wood, some guitars, computers and records were confiscated. This is potentially a much more serious situation than what occurred in 2009.

 

After the 2011 raid, the situation has gotten politically charged. The pro-Gibson spin meisters have been busy portraying it as harassment and politically motivated, trying to bring pressure on FnW to dismiss the case and return the confiscated property.

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I did my best to provide a dispassionate explanation of the case in a recent podcast for Fretboard Journal. My hope was that this would counteract the political discussion that began when the Wall street Journal interviewed me about the case. Alas, ...

 

I've now consented to one more attempt at an objective explanation of the case. This Wednesday, September 14, I'll appear live on the Soundcheck program on WNYC in New York to explain the various legal issues in the case.

 

If you've questions that you'd like me to address, please post them. Thanks!

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Since I own similar numbers of Gibsons and Martins, I claim political neutrality on this topic. There is an awful lot of speculating, posturing, and finger-pointing on this forum about what is going on in this case, and the bottom line is that none of us knows the truth. I get tired of knee-jerk reactions of any political persuasion.

 

Ain't sayin' more. Life is too short to constantly be angry.

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John, I appreciate your role, such as it is, in this quagmire. It doesn't seem like there's been much clarity or anything resembling resolution in this thing, yet, and perhaps your efforts will assist in bringing some common-sense solutions. Holding one's breath doesn't seem like an appropriate thing just yet! :rolleyes:

 

How likely do you think it will be that, as happens for other reasons, the Effin' W (i.e., FnW) will develop "Passports" for guitars, or for that matter, for other items (flutes, pianos, harps, end tables, cigar boxes, both knicks as well as knacks, and other items that might for some reason cross international borders?

 

For example, in Canada, we can get a Y-38 form at the Canadian border in which the Canadian border folks list items that a resident is declaring PRIOR TO crossing into, say, the US, so that they will know, when the resident RETURNS to Canada that the items listed on the form were in Canada originally, and are thus not subject to tariffs, duties and taxes. I.e., one lists their camera, say, with make and serial number, and their Gibson guitar, with serial number on the form, so that, when these two items return with the resident, the CBSA folks can clearly see that those items were not purchased in the US or elsewhere, abroad. CBSA Temp Exportation

 

The Y-38 is a little green 2" x 3" card that, when I get it, I stick it in the accessories pocket of the case of that guitar.

 

The current CITES schedule is the only thing that comes close, but it's a pain to fill in, and there is a cost associated with each schedule you complete/submit. And the questions on things like "What woods were used? Can you prove it? Where is the documentation?" etc., may in some cases (ha! -- little pun...) be hard if not impossible to provide.

 

 

Fred

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Fred,

 

Thanks! I'm trying, but I'm not sure that many are interested in listening.

 

A year or two ago, I interviewed the spokesperson for the CITES secretariat in Geneva. I asked about the possibility one day of an instrument passport. "Oh, I don't think so," he said.

 

I love the Canadian approach. Alas, the Lacey Act really does require specificity and wouldn't serve its purpose without that requirement. The law is actually the result of lobbying by industries that saw companies, especially foreign companies, obtaining a competitive advantage by purchasing illegal woods. The reporting requirement puts all companies, foreign and domestic alike, on equal footign: if USFW has probably cause to believe any part of a product is illegal, it can seize the item and await the importer's proof of legality (this is the status of the 2009 Gibson seizure).

 

On the other hand, though the Lacey Act is simple in concept, it's nightmarishly complex in practice. I think that the most likely result of the current difficulties may be an exemption for end-users for consumer goods. The importers and manufacturers would have to document a legal chain of supply, but we mere players could play our instruments in peace.

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A year or two ago, I interviewed the spokesperson for the CITES secretariat in Geneva. I asked about the possibility one day of an instrument passport. "Oh, I don't think so," he said.

 

I'm not into this topic, but have an authorized Guitar Passport for my homemade 12-fret. Got it from the boss of the company when I bought Rio-rose for back'n'sides. It is a black letters on white gloss piece of thick paper, fairly larger than a packet of cigarettes. Can be folded out in 4 leaves (8 sides in all), have a red stamp and shows 2 diminished copies of documents signed the Chefe Do Devis - Cites Brazil.

The front says Follmann & Sons issues this guitar passport for free International Transit – gothic fond, I guess. Must admit it looks as if it would work.

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I'm not into this topic, but have an authorized Guitar Passport for my homemade 12-fret. Got it from the boss of the company when I bought Rio-rose for back'n'sides. It is a black letters on white gloss piece of thick paper, fairly larger than a packet of cigarettes. Can be folded out in 4 leaves (8 sides in all), have a red stamp and shows 2 diminished copies of documents signed the Chefe Do Devis - Cites Brazil.

The front says Follmann & Sons issues this guitar passport for free International Transit – gothic fond, I guess. Must admit it looks as if it would work.

 

Alas, no existing law will give effect to that "passport." But, who knows, it may fool some customs officials somewhere.

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Surely there is some kind of law that prevents using "guitars" in the same sentence with "politics." One is tied directly to the highest of human values and the other is connected to the things that we are usually ashamed of.

 

 

Should tell that to Woodie Guthrie; Bob Dylan, Jackson Brown, Peter Yarro, etc...etc....etc......

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Fantastic article. It will be interesting to see how long it remains linked here. Thanks for this John.

 

Thanks. I feel like I've been kidnapped by a circus. I hope that this article and my appearance on npr tomorrow help to push the conversation toward a more objective tone.

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In my opinion, the media coverage of the issue has been dramatically innaccurate. Today's report from Media Matters, which quotes me,presents what I believe is an accurate report on the media coverage.

And, thank you as well for informing us as well. It is frustrating trying to get the specifics so we might actually KNOW what is going on.

 

I have to bring up what I think is the real issue and question: How accurate are the affidavits and the investigations? Is it missing truth as well?

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