Aug 6, 2012 – Gibson Guitars, whom JTMP had covered in an 2011 post about the dust-up when federal agents raided their factory and confiscated wood said to be illegal, have reached an agreement with the US government admitting they imported rare, slow-growth wood that is protected by the Lacey Act. Gibson Guitars became a cause celebre for right-wingers and "Tea Partiers" as a symbol of government overreach, and the supposed "over regulation strangling American businesses and killing American jobs."
But now NBC News reports that the president of the company, David Berryman, got a memo from a subordinate in 2008 who was in Madagascar reporting that the wood was illegal to purchase and ship back to the states; but the company apparently went through with the deal despite his warning. Gibson Guitars came to an agreement with the government, and the government has agreed to drop all charges. Gibson Guitars has agreed to pay a $300,000 fine, forfeit over $200,000 worth of illegal wood, and they will also donate $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to promote the preservation of rare wood and other slow-growth trees that are endangered and protected. Read more on NBC News here.
This is the dilemma with guitarists and guitar manufacturers, can we build guitars in a sustainable way? Is slow-growth wood truly the ONLY tone wood we can use? JTMP supports efforts in the guitar world using synthetic and quick-replenishing wood to help solve this crisis, like Martin's OMC Cherry that uses wood that is grown and harvested in an "ecologically responsible manner". Remember, it takes 500 years for one of these slow-growth trees to mature, and only 5 minutes to cut it down.