20 Sep 2011


With the Lacey Act under sustained assault from right wing commentators and some sections of the music industry, it has been refreshing to see some notable figures in the guitar world expressing their support for the US legislation aimed at curtailing illegal logging.

Chris Martin, Chairman and CEO C.F. Martin Guitar, said: “I think it’s a wonderful thing. I think illegal logging is appalling. It should stop. And if this is what it takes unfortunately to stop unscrupulous operators, I’m all for it. It’s tedious, but we’re getting through it.”

And in a recent interview, Bob Taylor, the co-founder and president of Taylor Guitars, said: “The Lacey Act requires more due diligence on the part of the receiver of the wood than there was in the past. We can’t just take someone’s word that the wood we’re buying is legit. Even if your act was already clean, you’re going to have to clean it up even more.”

Taylor also had a response to those critics who question the relevance of the Lacey Act for instrument manufacturers: “We’re living through a time of transition from one type of economy to another economy. Many builders view the Lacey Act as flawed and more trouble than it’s worth. We’re at a tricky in-between stage, but the situation will become easier again in the future once we know what the rules are.”

“We should embrace it and go with the flow instead of trying to fight what we can’t change. If it’s good, we should see what we can do to make it better. This is just one more step toward working in a global world with a global mindset. Hopefully we can build some great guitars and do some good along the way.”

Chris Martin also commented on his company’s buying policy with regards to Madagascan rosewood, the purchase of which has caused so many problems for Gibson guitars: “What we heard was the international community has come to the conclusion that the coup created an illegitimate government. That’s when we said, ‘Okay, we can not buy any more of this wood.'”

Following a 2009 military coup which saw the overthrow of the environmentally progressive President Marc Ravalomanana, huge quantities of rosewood and ebony were stripped from Madagascar’s rapidly shrinking National Parks.

While Gibson guitars is claiming that they have legal export papers for the rosewood seized under the Lacey Act, there is little doubt that the most of the precious hardwood exported from Madagacar, post-coup, originated from protected areas and hence was illegally logged.

Quotes taken from articles in Guitar Aficionado and NPR.