Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factories for Illegal Wood (Again)

August 26, 2011
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Is nothing sacred with this government? Well, apparently, fine-grained lumber such as rosewood and ebony from Madagascar is. But not Gibson guitars. Hello? OK, maybe I’m a bit biased, having been a guitar player all my life and a proud owner of several Gibson guitars.

When I came across this story, I thought the brown-shirts were a little out of place- raiding the best guitar manufacturer in the world. Of course, it’s easy to see the real reason for this incident- money. But then, that’s usually the reason when common sense goes out the window. Well, money, or love.

To a guitar player like me, a Gibson guitar is something sacred, something to behold. When you wrap your fingers around the neck, something magical happens. It feels like you are holding the steering wheel of a Lamborghini. Nothing compares to a Gibson. I know (just) a few guitar players are cringing when I say that, but that’s my opinion. (Footnote for all of you Fender lovers out there- I love my Telecaster too, honey blonde, made in Mexico, sweet, plays as good as a Gibson, but with that awesome Fender tone.)


I’ve played some great guitars over the years, and I can honestly say, when I play a Les Paul, an SG, or an ES-335, I play better than I do on anything else. My fingers just glide down the neck, and the slightest touch on a string returns a full, rich, thick tone. OK, I guess I better quit drooling and get on with the story.

On Wednesday, the US Fish and Wildlife Service raided Gibson factories and offices in Nashville and Memphis, and seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and (gulp) guitars. And why not? The already own GM, so why not Gibson? I’m digressing again…

The government isn’t saying anything yet, but we can all guess their motives by what they grabbed, what the CEO of Gibson said, and why they did this once before.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Gibson’s chairman and CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, defended his company’s manufacturing policies, accusing the Justice Department of bullying the company, and said, “The wood the government seized Wednesday is from a Forest Stewardship Council certified supplier.”

The stupid thing about this story to me is the governments over-reaction to a non-problem. Even if Gibson has that rare wood (which I hope they do have the best possible wood out there), they very likely got it legally. Madagascar does sell that wood after hurricanes and other storms. Plus, it was completely legal up until 2000.

Update: Video released from Gibson USA:

Footnote: Gibson was raided in 2010 as well. Nothing was found to be out of order at that time.


Related stories and viewpoints around the web:

Michelle Malkin has a great piece highlighting not only the the Eco-zealous feds target Gibson guitars, but also antique piano dealers.

Eric Felten at the Wall Street Journal has a great article delving into the motivations of the environmentalist’s agenda in this matter. See Guitar Frets: Environmental Enforcement Leaves Musicians in Fear.

MyLesPaul.com has a hysterical and sexy view of this story. See Another Gibson Raid.

Pajamas Media has a short article, but a funny picture of two Gibson guitars in jail. See Gibson Guitar Plants in Nashville and Memphis Raided Today.



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