DOJ hits Gibson with $300K fine in settlement over exotic wood raids

posted at 1:21 pm on August 7, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

Did you get here Googling “exotic wood raids?” Is this not what you expected? I’m sorry. Settle in for some hot public policy.

Last we checked in with Gibson, the famed Tennessee guitar maker had been raided twice by armed federal agents, who seized almost $500,000 in exotic wood imported from India and Madagascar and shut down production. The ebony and rosewood in question have been used for decades to make the instrument’s fingerboards and are integral to their style and sound, the company said. (Great video background from Reason, here.)

This week, Gibson settled with the government in a “criminal enforcement agreement,” which means the feds won’t bring criminal charges after their three-year investigation. In exchange, Gibson acknowledged some of its imports from Madagascar violated environmental laws and agreed to pay a fine of $300,000 plus $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, to be directed to preserving forests. It will also step up compliance efforts.

The admission of wrongdoing only applies to Madagascar wood imported and seized in 2009, not to Indian wood imported and seized in 2011. Gibson will be able to recover the wood seized in the 2011 raid, suggesting there was no evidence of wrongdoing in that raid.

The government admits as much in the agreement, which Gibson has posted in full on its website, along with the evidence against it:

The Government and Gibson acknowledge and agree that certain questions and inconsistencies now exist regarding the tariff classification of ebony and rosewood fingerboard blanks pursuant to the Indian government’s Foreign Trade Policy. Accordingly, the Government will not undertake enforcement actions related to Gibson’s future orders, purchases, or imports of ebony and rosewood fingerboard blanks from India, unless and until the Government of India provides specific clarification that ebony and rosewood fingerboard blanks are expressly prohibited by laws related to Indian Foreign Trade Policy. The Government agrees to provide Gibson notice of any such clarification from the Government of India in the future and a reasonable period of time (60 days or as otherwise agreed) to address the potential change in the understanding of the law as it relates to shipments received by or en route to Gibson.

Gibson invites everyone to check out the full report and evidence for themselves. It’s not a long read, and really gives you a feel for the complexity inherent in our regulatory system. Here, from the DOJ report is Gibson’s violation, which prompted two armed raids and three years of investigation:

Between June 20, 2008, and November 17,2009, Gibson did not ask for or obtain paperwork or official assurances from officials in Madagascar that the wood it was purchasing from Madagascar through its German supplier was legally harvested and exported from Madagascar, notwithstanding the information received by Gibson during the June 2008 trip to Madagascar. Before November 2009, Gibson further did not ask for additional paperwork or other confirmation from its supplier that the wood it was purchasing from Madagascar was legally harvested and exported, although the execution of the search warrant. Instead, Gibson relied on the fact that T.N.(the German supplier) was an established, FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) chain of custody certified supplier. Before ordering or accepting delivery of the fingerboards, Gibson should have taken a more active role and exercised additional diligence with respect to documentation of legal forestry practices in the areas of Madagascar from which those shipments from its wood supplier may have originated. Information received by the Gibson representative during the June 2008 trip to Madagascar was not further investigated or acted upon, prior to the continuing placement of orders with the supplier, T.N. Information sent to company management by the Gibson representative and others following the June 2008 trip to Madagascar also was not further investigated or acted upon, prior to the continuing placement of orders with the supplier, T.N. Instead, Gibson continued to purchase Madagascar ebony after June 20, 2008.

Translation (allowing for the fact that I’m not a lawyer): A Madagascar law allows the export of finished fingerboards but not unfinished “fingerboard blanks,” which would leave the finishing work to Gibson, adding frets and shaving fractions of an inch off the wood pieces. A Madagascar company was given a special dispensation to export existing stocks of rosewood after the passage of this Madagascar law, and Gibson received that company’s wood through a German company, which was also certified by an outside environmental group as forest-friendly. It turns out, the Madagascar company did not have a dispensation for ebony, but Gibson was getting the wood through two respected dealers, as far as it was concerned. Because a Gibson employee visited Madagascar with Greenpeace in 2008 and prepared a report, which went to higher-ups, addressing some of the risks of violating Madagascar law, Gibson should have taken additional steps to prevent the import of this Madagascar ebony.

Is there technically a violation of the Lacey Act somewhere in there? Sure, arguably, and that’s the fun of very complex U.S. laws dependent on the interpretation of unclear foreign laws and enforced via byzantine reporting requirements.

The WSJ explains what businesses are up against in dealing with these laws, even when making good-faith efforts to comply:

Gibson’s predicament, which raises concerns for musical-instrument makers and other importers of wood, illustrates the pitfalls of complying with U.S. law while dealing with middlemen in faraway countries whose legal systems can be murky.

But why, if the 2009 raid’s Madagascar wood is the wood that violated the Lacey Act, were there no criminal charges brought between the 2009 raid and the 2011 raid? Could it be there wasn’t much of a criminal case, here?

In that case, shutting down production in a second armed federal raid seizing hundreds of thousands of dollars in wood, which (oops!) didn’t violate any laws would be a pretty keen way to get someone to cop to the violations of the first raid without a trial, wouldn’t it?

Gibson contends it had to settle to save money and move on with the company’s business:

“We felt compelled to settle as the costs of proving our case at trial would have cost millions of dollars and taken a very long time to resolve. This allows us to get back to the business of making guitars. An important part of the settlement is that we are getting back the materials seized in a second armed raid on our factories and we have formal acknowledgement that we can continue to source rosewood and ebony fingerboards from India, as we have done for many decades.”

Despite the fact that, “…the government acknowledges that Gibson has cooperated with the Government and the investigation conducted by the Fish and Wildlife Service”, Gibson was subject to two hostile raids on its factories by agents carrying weapons and attired in SWAT gear where employees were forced out of the premises, the production was shut down, goods were seized as contraband, and threats were made that would have forced the business to close.

CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz commented, “We feel that Gibson was inappropriately targeted, and a matter that could have been addressed with a simple contact a caring human being representing the government. Instead, the Government used violent and hostile means with the full force of the US Government and several armed law enforcement agencies costing the tax payer millions of dollars and putting a job creating US manufacture at risk and at a competitive disadvantage. This shows the increasing trend on the part of government to criminalize rules and regulations and treat US businesses in the same way drug dealers are treated. This is wrong and it is unfair. I am committed to working hard to correct the inequity that the law allows and insure there is fairness, due process, and the law is used for its intended purpose of stopping bad guys and stopping the very real deforestation of our planet”.

Juszkiewicz and others in the music industry remain worried about those, including individual musicians, who might get ensnared in Lacey Act violations:

George Gruhn, who owns a vintage guitar shop in Nashville, said he wasn’t surprised that Gibson officials accepted the settlement.

“Regardless of the merits of the case on either side, it would have cost more than that by far to pursue it,” he said. “Even if they thought they conceivably they could win, it would have probably cost more than $1 million to do it…

“The problem is that virtually every instrument prior to 1970 contains Brazilian rosewood,” he said. “Even on a Gibson LGO, which was their cheapest student guitar.”

The government has said it won’t go after individual guitar owners, but the law does not prevent it. Early this year, Sen. Rand Paul introduced a law that would strike references to “foreign” law from the Lacey Act and substitute a civil penalties for the law’s criminal ones.

For now, Gibson will pay its $350,000 after a three-year investigation that cost us God knows how much to make amends for four shipments of wood totalling $262,000.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Too bad that Gibson didn’t fight them all the way, as they said they would. Who knows what all the threats were.

Degenerate goons run the land.

Schadenfreude on August 7, 2012 at 1:23 PM

The ebony and rosewood in question have been used for decades to make the instrument’s fingerboards and are integral to their style and sound, the company said.

As a proud Gibson Les Paul owner, I can attest to this.

I read the statement from Gibson on their website. An armed SWATT team for a bunch of guitar makers? Seriously?

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 1:24 PM

And does anyone think this would’ve happened if Gibson’s CEO wasn’t such a staunch Republican?

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 1:27 PM

Tyrants do what tyrants do ,
research Idi Amin folks .
Please.
This is just the beginning of the islamic thugocracy in USA

burrata on August 7, 2012 at 1:27 PM

..maybe some kind of Chick-Fil-A-esque counter protest? How about a national day of Gibson guitar buy-ins?

The War Planner on August 7, 2012 at 1:27 PM

Exit Question: Is Gaia now pleased????

ted c on August 7, 2012 at 1:28 PM

And they call themselves the Department of Justice… isn’t that a laugh.

Axion on August 7, 2012 at 1:30 PM

“… and really gives you a feel for the complexity inherent in our regulatory system.”

If I remember right…

… they are still adding pages to Dodd/Frank and ObowmacareTax.

Good Times…! Good Times…!

Seven Percent Solution on August 7, 2012 at 1:31 PM

The nice thing about having such a confused regulatory and enforcement mechanism, is that it can be appled at will and ignored the same way. A great educational tool, IYKWIM.

a capella on August 7, 2012 at 1:31 PM

And it’s all because Gibson didn’t donate to Obama’s campaign.

The Rogue Tomato on August 7, 2012 at 1:31 PM

There’s a Gibson in my man cave, hanging on the wall. Good luck getting it.

Bishop on August 7, 2012 at 1:31 PM

For now, Gibson will pay its $350,000 after a three-year investigation that cost us God knows how much to make amends for four shipments of wood totalling $262,000.

Is there any question as to why we are not manufacturing, producing, creating jobs here in the U.S.??

I have literally dozens, if not hundreds of similar examples having ran several manufacturing companies…this is not an anomaly.

The DOJ, EPA, OSHA, etc., all have to find, at whatever costs, have to find “problems”. And often the problems are up to the discretion of the inspectors.
Rules that are counter to each other…do it one way, and you are fined, do it the other and maybe a greater fine…don’t do it and you can’t run your business…one year you operate within the rules, next year, rules change and you are in violation, or you spend tens of thousands to comply…and then the rules change.

I will say it again and again…China is not beating us with lower pay, it’s the government intervention in our system that puts us behind.

right2bright on August 7, 2012 at 1:32 PM

This decision by Obama’s tyranny is what the Second Amendment was made to end.

Warner Todd Huston on August 7, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Just make the check out to E. Holder.

John the Libertarian on August 7, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Sure, arguably, and that’s the fun of very complex U.S. laws dependent on the interpretation of unclear foreign laws and enforced via byzantine reporting requirements.

Sure but BarkyCare will be different.

Bishop on August 7, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Playing a Gibson, and eating Chic-Fil-A…sounds like a concert to me.

right2bright on August 7, 2012 at 1:32 PM

For now, Gibson will pay its $350,000 after a three-year investigation that cost us God knows how much to make amends for four shipments of wood totalling $262,000.

Yeah but they didn’t build that. And I gotta ask. What happens to the confiscated wood?

Happy Nomad on August 7, 2012 at 1:33 PM

We pay for the “investigation” and we pay for the costs incurred by Gibson in higher costs of their products. I think it’s safe to say that we lose all around for stupid meddling by our government.

Cindy Munford on August 7, 2012 at 1:33 PM

Fender uses/used Brazilian and Indian rosewood, too. But they donated to democrats.

The Rogue Tomato on August 7, 2012 at 1:33 PM

the price of guitars just went up, thank the Feds

burserker on August 7, 2012 at 1:34 PM

Remember, government is force and coercion and has a monopoly on both.

Dante on August 7, 2012 at 1:34 PM

Is there technically a violation of the Lacey Act somewhere in there? Sure, arguably, and that’s the fun of very complex U.S. laws dependent on the interpretation of unclear foreign laws and enforced via byzantine reporting requirements.

Dictatorships love murky laws. You can then come down hard on those you dislike for any reason, or even no reason.

rbj on August 7, 2012 at 1:34 PM

Another example of how our government could buy the Sahara Desert and run out of sand in 6 months while accruing BILLIONS in debt.

GarandFan on August 7, 2012 at 1:35 PM

How about a national day of Gibson guitar buy-ins?

Gibson guitars aren’t cheap by any stretch. I have 10 guitars. Only 1 is an actual Gibson (co-incidently, my favorite).

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Where was he when we needed him?

Firmworm on August 7, 2012 at 1:36 PM

And does anyone think this would’ve happened if Gibson’s CEO wasn’t such a staunch Republican?

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 1:27 PM

I’m sure the fact that Gibson is the only non-union guitar maker in the United States is pure coincidence. Right?

Happy Nomad on August 7, 2012 at 1:36 PM

3 friggin’ years!!!…

The Federal Government…doing nothing expensively…

PatriotRider on August 7, 2012 at 1:37 PM

This is tedious nonsense. The crap businesses have to put up with is insane.

Yeesh. All I can say is I hope Rickenbacker is too small a target for the feds.

Dongemaharu on August 7, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Let me get this straight… The feds did not bring charges against the Gibson Company AND now says there was no evidence of criminal conduct. And now they want to stick up the company for 300k in fines and a “donation” of 50k to some lefty greenie group? And Gibson gets their wood returned!!!

The so called “Justice Department” are nothing more than a bunch of CRIMINALS with badges This kind of SH** happens in third world countries with DICTATORS as their leaders…

Whats next? We don’t like you being a Christian… OFF TO THE GULAG. Time for the tree of liberty to be refreshed.

Kuffar on August 7, 2012 at 1:38 PM

Only 1 is an actual Gibson (co-incidently, my favorite).

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 1:36 PM

So what are the other nine, Gibson wannabes? Pretend Gibsons? ;0

Happy Nomad on August 7, 2012 at 1:39 PM

Maybe this was Gibson’s way of getting dangerous guitars in the hands of cartel members so they could all be tracked back or sumpin’.

Laura in Maryland on August 7, 2012 at 1:40 PM

I think I’m missing something. is the crux of this issue the US government raided, spent probably millions on the case and all in the name of enforcing Madagascar laws?

WitchDoctor on August 7, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Gibson guitars aren’t cheap by any stretch. I have 10 guitars. Only 1 is an actual Gibson (co-incidently, my favorite).

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Well, how about an Epiphone? Those are pretty cheap.

Dongemaharu on August 7, 2012 at 1:41 PM

I feel safer now, don’t you?

Laura in Maryland on August 7, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Maybe one of Obummer’s rock-star fundraisers had his fingers on Gibson mahogany, so the Obummer administration had to back off.

Dictatorships love murky laws. You can then come down hard on those you dislike for any reason, or even no reason.

rbj on August 7, 2012 at 1:34 PM

Dictatorships in Madagascar or Washington DC?

Steve Z on August 7, 2012 at 1:42 PM

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Amen, I don’t even want to think about how many guitars we have and we have two Gibsons.

Cindy Munford on August 7, 2012 at 1:44 PM


bill for the consumer:

that 350.000$ need to be recouped so expect Gibson guitars to be much more expensive and consequently all other guitar makers will raise their prices as well.

and next ofcourse, other music instruments will be more expensive.

Obama does turn off the music, literally.

huntingmoose on August 7, 2012 at 1:44 PM

Reckon they’ll be any protest songs written to address this?

We once bought us some wood, or should I say, it ruined us
They showed us some laws, isn’t it bad, Madascar wood?

They told us sit as they raided us three times for what?
So we looked around and noticed they took all our stock

We sat on our debts, biding our time, paying our lawyers
We talked to them daily until we had no more cash…

DanMan on August 7, 2012 at 1:45 PM

I think I’m missing something. is the crux of this issue the US government raided, spent probably millions on the case and all in the name of enforcing Madagascar laws?

WitchDoctor on August 7, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Well that and harassing a non-union company with a conservative CEO.

Happy Nomad on August 7, 2012 at 1:45 PM

So what happens to the wood confiscated but not be given back? Will the Feds burn it like they do seized marijuana? I mean, you can’t grew new trees with it.

Liam on August 7, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Should we tweet this to Obama as an example of how his admin is helping small business?

kringeesmom on August 7, 2012 at 1:46 PM

I feel safer now, don’t you?

Laura in Maryland on August 7, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Exactly… finally, the war on guitars is over.

VietVet_Dave on August 7, 2012 at 1:46 PM

The DOJ, EPA, OSHA, etc., all have to find, at whatever costs, have to find “problems”. And often the problems are up to the discretion of the inspectors.

right2bright on August 7, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Dictatorships love murky laws. You can then come down hard on those you dislike for any reason, or even no reason.

rbj on August 7, 2012 at 1:34 PM

“This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”

Fallon on August 7, 2012 at 1:46 PM

So what are the other nine, Gibson wannabes? Pretend Gibsons? ;0

Two Epiphones (one’s a double-neck), a Fender Strat, an Ibanez, two Jacksons (an Explorer-type and a Strat-type), a Yamaha 12-string acoustic, and an Ibanez 6-string acoustic. And a Yamaha bass.

But the Les Paul is the centerpiece. 1980 Custom, got it in the mid-90′s for $800 (it was in really shabby shape). Put in about $1,000 of restoration about 10 years later once I could afford that(refretted, new pickups, and completely repainted). It’s been the centerpiece of my collection ever since.

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 1:46 PM

Looks like its time to buy another SG Standard. .

jawkneemusic on August 7, 2012 at 1:47 PM

Well, how about an Epiphone? Those are pretty cheap.

True, but I don’t think Mrs. Crazy Legs would take too kindly of me bringing another guitar into the house for purely political reasons. ;-)

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 1:49 PM

They didn’t build that, and we the government will not let you build that even if you wanted to. Stifling of free enterprise this was.

jake49 on August 7, 2012 at 1:50 PM

…and consequently all other guitar makers will raise their prices as well.

and next ofcourse, other music instruments will be more expensive.

Obama does turn off the music, literally.

huntingmoose on August 7, 2012 at 1:44 PM

True tale: One of the first things Obama did as a sop to the unions that work in tire factories was to put tariffs on tires imported from China. The tires on my trucks were of the size that it immediately put a $100 increase on EACH of the BF Goodrich’s I had been using. Basically all tires went up 30%. It took effect September 1, 2009 and man do I remember that.

DanMan on August 7, 2012 at 1:50 PM

He is the DOTUS.

Next.

PappyD61 on August 7, 2012 at 1:50 PM

As a Gibson player since 1980, I think I’ll let Sammy Hagar sum up my sentiments on this topic.

♫Crank the drums. Crank up the bass. Crank up my Les Paul, in your face♫

juanito on August 7, 2012 at 1:50 PM

A) No small business is too small for a regime attack. They despise all business. If they can’t obstruct with tax code, they’ll use some picky, obscure regulation. Criminalization of nearly every activity is a hallmark of the socio-fascist mindset. Law and regulation are tools to pacify by fear and guilt.

B) The outrage is that Gibson lost somewhere near (probably over) $1M in dumbass fines, confiscated material and legal fees. That money never comes back, never supports another American job. It’s just down the rat hole. The further outrage is that the fine went to a hyper-liberal lobbying group that will in turn help the Obama re-election campaign.

ironked on August 7, 2012 at 1:52 PM

This is what tyranny looks like.

RadClown on August 7, 2012 at 1:53 PM

Couldn’t the illegally imported wood be considered as a young, illegal immigrant and we could all forget about it? If that wood is going to grow up to be a fingerboard on a Gibson guitar, who are we to stand in its way?

/part of the Obama admin’s scofflaw attitude of selectively enforcing laws based on how they feel, favoring their friends and punishing their enemies

Paul-Cincy on August 7, 2012 at 1:54 PM

And does anyone think this would’ve happened if Gibson’s CEO wasn’t such a staunch Republican?

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 1:27 PM

I’ve worked in the musical instrument manufacturing business for 33 years and wouldn’t describe Henry Juszkiewicz as a “staunch Republican”; nor would most people I know. Do I think Gibson was unfairly targeted for failing to donate to democrats? I don’t know … but I doubt it. Do I think the two federal raids by armed agents were over the top? Absolutely! Am I worried about the importation and sustainability of rosewood used for guitar fingerboards? Not so much. (Good heavens, have you priced it lately?) I do believe that folks might want to dig a little deeper before making Juszkiewicz out to be some kind of poster boy for the GOP.

jix on August 7, 2012 at 1:54 PM

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 1:46 PM

So, why do you hate Martin guitars?

:)

Fallon on August 7, 2012 at 1:55 PM


Extortion. Gibson wanted to stay in business.

TerryW on August 7, 2012 at 1:55 PM

Did you really think we want those laws observed? said Dr. Ferris. We want them to be broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against… We’re after power and we mean it… There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Reardon, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be
much easier to deal with.
(‘Atlas Shrugged’ 1957)

affenhauer on August 7, 2012 at 1:56 PM

I just may sit down with my ’92 Gibson Starburst and play me some blues in the key of Chick Fil A7.

Firmworm on August 7, 2012 at 1:56 PM

Job 1 for the Obama “administration” is killing jobs.

NoDonkey on August 7, 2012 at 1:58 PM

$300k fine?

No criminal charges?

In a Nation where once the rule of law is enshrined, we called this extortion.

In Chicago…pocket change…it’s all good. Gotta give back to the “community,” right? If they had only made a substantial donation to Team Obama…coulda avoided all of this.

coldwarrior on August 7, 2012 at 1:58 PM

The outrage is that Gibson lost somewhere near (probably over) $1M in dumbass fines, confiscated material and legal fees. That money never comes back, never supports another American job. It’s just down the rat hole. The further outrage is that the fine went to a hyper-liberal lobbying group that will in turn help the Obama re-election campaign.

ironked on August 7, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Yeah but Gibson didn’t build their business. That $1M came from the work of others. By forcing that money out of Gibson is just a way they can share their good fortune with others.

Happy Nomad on August 7, 2012 at 2:04 PM

Extortion.

besser tot als rot on August 7, 2012 at 2:07 PM

“I have done more to support and help small business than any president…evah!”

–B.(butthead) Obama

NOMOBO on August 7, 2012 at 2:07 PM

They can have my gold top when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.

BraineaterBob on August 7, 2012 at 2:13 PM

All my guitars are maple-neck Fenders, therefore I laugh in the general direction of you tropical wood-dependent LP guys ;)

SickofLibs on August 7, 2012 at 2:16 PM

Couldn’t the illegally imported wood be considered as a young, illegal immigrant and we could all forget about it? If that wood is going to grow up to be a fingerboard on a Gibson guitar, who are we to stand in its way?

Paul-Cincy on August 7, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Only if the illegally imported wood were to go to high school, and have a dream to remain in this country.

kringeesmom on August 7, 2012 at 2:18 PM

So, why do you hate Martin guitars?

Don’t hate ‘em. Too darn expensive for the amount I play acoustic.

I have no problem dropping cash on a good electric (obviously), but since I don’t play acoustics much, the two I got used 20 years ago for a couple of hundred bucks each will do just fine.

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 2:21 PM

I’m from the government and I’m here to protect the wood. Now fill out all of these forms in triple-double-quadruplicate as proof that you’re not wasting it. /

Jeffster on August 7, 2012 at 2:25 PM

A great example of why no one should vote Democrat. Until we roll back this excessive regulatory statism, no American is safe.

JeffB. on August 7, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Given the tens of thousands of pages of rules and regulations, I doubt there’s a one of us that isn’t violating one or more of them. What’s wrong with this picture?

natasha333 on August 7, 2012 at 2:29 PM

And does anyone think this would’ve happened if Gibson’s CEO wasn’t such a staunch Republican?

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 1:27 PM

This isn’t your dad’s America anymore. And that’s not a good thing.

KMC1 on August 7, 2012 at 2:29 PM

Does Green Peace monitor the Korean and Vietnamese guitar makers where the wood is solid press board?Are they concerned about deforestation in those places?

docflash on August 7, 2012 at 2:38 PM

I will say it again and again…China is not beating us with lower pay, it’s the government intervention in our system that puts us behind.

right2bright on August 7, 2012 at 1:32 PM

+1000!!

Oh, and BTW – how many jobs did this action create destroy?

Harbingeing on August 7, 2012 at 2:43 PM

And does anyone think this would’ve happened if Gibson’s CEO wasn’t such a staunch Republican?

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 1:27 PM

I’m sure the fact that Gibson is the only non-union guitar maker in the United States is pure coincidence. Right?

Happy Nomad on August 7, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Don’t hate ‘em. Too darn expensive for the amount I play acoustic.

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Not only is Gibson non-union, but Tennessee is a … gasp! … right-to-work state. If you go to Gibson’s website and look at the history, you learn that they moved there from Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1984 (I think that was the year.) Gee, I wonder why? Meanwhile, I guarantee you one of the likely hidden reasons Martins are so expensive is that a.) they are a union shop and b.) they are located in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, which is most certainly a non-right-to-work state.

If I had a choice to buy a Martin or Gibson, I’d take a Gibson Les Paul or a Gibson archtop hands down over a Martin. I have an anonymous Japanese-made acoustic that I bought in 1980 and I’m perfectly satisfied with it.

PatriotGal2257 on August 7, 2012 at 2:44 PM

MKH on my radio this morning at 5:15am.
Nice wakeup!

freedomfirst on August 7, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Nice guitar company you have there, shame if anything were to happen to it.

JFS61 on August 7, 2012 at 2:46 PM

I am also a Gibson player and owner.

These people try to lay a hand on my black Les Paul Custom, they will be sued for anything and everything possible.

In my humble opinion, there are many great guitars out there, and I really like many of them, Jackson and Fender being the primary other brands of electric guitars I prefer. Paul Reed Smith makes really nice instruments too. However, Gibson is and always will be #1, alone at the top of the heap. There is something intangible about the feel of it in your hands, the tone and sustain of the maple top/mohagany body combo, and yes the ebony fretboard on the Custom models is something many players swear by.

Gibson USA and Gibson Custom Shop are the highest quality guitars on the planet, bar none.

These are priced pretty high, but hey you get what you pay for. These instruments are heirloom quality items, things you leave you kids in your will.

Gibson USA are the production line guitars, with a fair amount of hand finishing. Custom Shop instruments are done with a great deal of hand craftsmanship, often one or two masters building it from start to finish by hand. Hence, the price.

Nevertheless, look at some this all American legendary craftsmanship and quality:

Ace Frehley “Budokan” Les Paul Custom

Brian1972 on August 7, 2012 at 2:49 PM

I’m sure the fact that Gibson is the only non-union guitar maker in the United States is pure coincidence. Right?

Happy Nomad on August 7, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Also notice that Martin, who uses the same woods in its fretboards, was not bothered by this.

PatriotGal2257 on August 7, 2012 at 2:50 PM

Was something in Madagascar or somewhere in some remote part of the globe damaged as a result of this wood purchase and did anyone anywhere else notice something was wrong? And, gee, in the past 3 years, how much of that type of wood was smuggled around the world in black market operations? It’s amazing the petty lengths that mean petty tyrants will go to for absolutely no reason other than smug self-satisfaction–the dregs of humanity.

stukinIL4now on August 7, 2012 at 2:50 PM

Gibson USA Les Paul Classic Plus

Brian1972 on August 7, 2012 at 2:51 PM

A nice side effect of this controversy over the ebony fretboards was this line of Les Paul Customs with baked maple fretboards.

Maple fretboards on Les Pauls have always been a bit rare and unusual, since the Standards normally were Rosewood and the Customs were ebony. I like this, would love to have one of these gorgeous beauties.

Les Paul Classic Custom

Brian1972 on August 7, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Another couple of maple beauties:

Les Paul Custom Maple

Brian1972 on August 7, 2012 at 2:57 PM

Why doesn’t Gibson just bail from the corrupt third world wannabe country known as the United States of America? Hugo Chavez can learn a lesson or two from the garbage of today’s Democrat Party.

MNHawk on August 7, 2012 at 2:58 PM

This is what I have, the Les Paul Custom in black. Mine is 22 years old now, looking vintage with the white bindings yellowing a bit.

Sweetness.

Les Paul Custom

Brian1972 on August 7, 2012 at 3:00 PM

A legend lives on. This is awesome:

Randy Rhoads Les Paul Custom

Brian1972 on August 7, 2012 at 3:02 PM

Every American who ever had one bit of lust for a guitar should now make their way to a store near by and buy a bright shinney Gibson guitar.

Sort of a more expensive but expressive Chic fil lay deal.

Ask for a nice wood one, ya know one of those rare ones.

Up yours Earth First Commies.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on August 7, 2012 at 3:03 PM

It is past time to shut down the federal government. All of it.

woodNfish on August 7, 2012 at 3:04 PM

Owebowmao to Gibson – “You didn’t build that…”

ontheright on August 7, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Check out the maple top on this baby:

Slash Appetite Les Paul

Wow, I am in love.

Brian1972 on August 7, 2012 at 3:05 PM

President Thug!

APACHEWHOKNOWS on August 7, 2012 at 3:06 PM

Every American who ever had one bit of lust for a guitar should now make their way to a store near by and buy a bright shinney Gibson guitar.

Sort of a more expensive but expressive Chic fil lay deal.

Ask for a nice wood one, ya know one of those rare ones.

Up yours Earth First Commies.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on August 7, 2012 at 3:03 PM

You’ve got a digital tour of some of my favorites right here.

Enjoy!

Collector’s Choice #1 1959 Les Paul Standard

Brian1972 on August 7, 2012 at 3:07 PM

This is as much an all-American classic as a ’57 Chevy Bel Air or the ’69 Camaro.

50th Anniversary 1959 Les Paul Standard

Heritage Cherry Burst finish (drooool)

Brian1972 on August 7, 2012 at 3:11 PM

affenhauer on August 7, 2012 at 1:56 PM

That book comes up in discussions around our dinner table. It is absolutely amazing how well Ayn Rand described what she saw as a kid in Russia and then applied it to what she saw happening in America isn’t it? 55 years ago and spot on in so many ways.

And my kids read it before I did. Now my wife keeps my Kindle loaded with all kinds of goodies.

DanMan on August 7, 2012 at 3:12 PM

This is what I have, the Les Paul Custom in black. Mine is 22 years old now, looking vintage with the white bindings yellowing a bit.

Sweetness.

Basically the same as mine (even the age!), except I have nickel hardware. Mine didn’t start off black – it started life as what can only be described as “green uglyburst”, with the paint completely worn off the neck. Looks much sweeter in black.

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 3:13 PM

Oh my gosh this one is just amazing, hand made in Nashville, TN:

Les Paul Ultima

The flames! Flames, man, flames!

Brian1972 on August 7, 2012 at 3:14 PM

Any law like Lacey that is so vaguely written that it can be used as a tool of political oppression by a thuggish administration should be set aside. Send it back to Congress and ask them to fix it.

slickwillie2001 on August 7, 2012 at 3:14 PM

I’ll also add that the Seymour Duncan Seth Lover pickups I put into it coupled with the heft of the body (Ooooooh Noooooos!! What would TEH TREES think!?) played through my Marshall stack is one of the thickest sounds I think I’ve ever heard.

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 3:16 PM

The flames! Flames, man, flames!

Wow! I don’t know whether to fall in love, or run screaming from the sight!

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 3:18 PM

crazy_legs on August 7, 2012 at 3:13 PM

I think it’s the best guitar on the planet.

If I had the money, I would probably own a few dozen Les Pauls.

I have lusted after them since I was seven years old seeing KISS Alive II for the first time. That Ace model was the one that started it all for me, then they just kept on coming, all my favorite players had Les Pauls.

Like this one:

Zakk Wylde Les Paul Bullseye

Brian1972 on August 7, 2012 at 3:19 PM

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