Guitars containing rosewood - CITES

LesterLester Posts: 1,693Member, Moderator
I have just read that as of 2nd January 2017 the regulation limiting the movement of Brazilian rosewood has been extended to incluse any kind of rosewood. My guess is that the majority of guitars contain rosewood, either as a fretboard or, in the case of acoustics, as bridges, binding or even parts of the body.

Reverb has an article about this: New CITES Regulations For All Rosewood Species.

The UK government's news on this says: The UK CITES Management Authority currently (22/12/16) has no plans to request holders of Dalbergia wood to register their stocks. However, holders should be able to show its origin; either that it is pre-convention, or if imported after listing, that it was lawfully imported. Dalbergia is the tree from which we get rosewood.

It must make life quite difficult for folk who tour internationally with their guitars and for dealers like Richard's Guitars who ship products outside of their country. For anyone wanting to sell a secondhand guitar, it will probably not have a certificate relating to its rosewood content, which probably means we cannot sell them outside of the country we are currently in.

What do you guys make of this?


  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,190Member
    edited January 2017
    Obviously conservation is important, Lester. The problem I have with making harvested materials even more valuable (by officially imposed scarcity) is that the higher prices incentivise 'poaching' and black markets - we see this in the ivory trade with the burning of piles of tusks and the scrappage of ivory.

    As far as exotic woods in guitars... I used to be such a snob. From the aesthetic point of view I can see the appeal. From the functional and sonic point of view I can't - not having owned an Epiphone DR100 (all laminate) which is one of the best guitars I've ever had ! In fact the solid rosewood guitar I did own (until yesterday) did not travel well, so it's not a matter of being unable to transport one's guitar across borders but why one would want to.

    I'm forming the opinion that solid guitars ought to stay in the climate in which they were built and that woods don't matter so much as bracing, shape, workmanship and thickness of top back and sides.

    We need to shift towards the desireability of composites and artificial materials. And there is nothing wrong per se with laminate woods.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,100Member, Moderator
    Guitars with a serial number show the date it was manufactured, so if that date is pre-convention then no problem. New guitars will come with a certificate of compliance.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,190Member
    I think it is bound to affect things somewhat, in terms of the guitars on sale in the UK, and I suspect we'll see fewer rosewood fingerboard models. But as Kevin says, there are perfectly nice alternatives. I have enough guitars (rosewood and otherwise) anyhow... :D
  • LesterLester Posts: 1,693Member, Moderator
    edited January 2017
    All I see is an error message saying that a secure connection cannot be established to Does it say anything helpful?

    I was planning on clearing out a few guitars this year, all of which have rosewood fretboards. I am not sure whether I can advertise them in the UK as I am currently outside its borders.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,190Member
    Sorry Lester - the link seems to work for me, so not sure what the issue is. I've just copied all the text from the Andertons page, so will appear below if I'm able to paste it:

    As of the 2nd of January 2017, a new law has been put into place that will affect how Rosewood is traded across borders. Obviously, a lot of guitars are made with Rosewood for the fretboard and that will have a heavy impact on how easy it is to order a guitar with Rosewood.

    It does NOT apply to guitars (or other instruments) that are being traded within the borders of one country, but any time an instrument with Rosewood is sold internationally (or in our case outside of the EU) it requires CITES certification.

    Sadly it stretches beyond Rosewood and into members of the same genus of tree as well as three types of Bubinga. While not many guitars use these rarer rosewoods it’s worth knowing when looking for a new guitar. This list includes:

    All Rosewood
    African Blackwood
    Any other member of the Dalbergia family of woods

    How does it affect me?

    What Andertons Can No Longer Do:
    We cannot ship any instruments containing Rosewood outside of the EU for the time being. That means you will not be able to order anything containing Rosewood if you live in Australia, or the US etc.

    What You Can’t Do:
    Order a guitar from outside the EU without CITES certification which must state the source of the Rosewood. This certification is the responsibility of the exporter (retailer).
    Sell a guitar internationally without CITES certification. The seller is always responsible for this even if it was CITES certified from the retailer you purchased it from.

    What does this not change?
    Apart from buying and selling guitars there are not any changes unless you plan on travelling with a lot of Rosewood!

    You can still travel freely with your instrument as long as you are with it and it has less than 10kg or 22lbs of regulated materials. This does not require CITES certification.

    You can still buy and sell rosewood within your country without any certification

    What’s Next?
    Industry leaders in the US, UK and around the world are starting a discussion to lighten the rules on the smaller quantities you will find in fretboards. While there is no guarantee that this will happen this is a conversation that is happening.

    We’ll start to see manufacturers using less and less Rosewood until this can be resolved. Brands like Chapman and Dowina have already started changing their models to use Ebony boards instead of Rosewood.

    Because of the cost of Ebony however we are sure to see more companies using man made materials like Gibson’s Richlite or other alternatives like Baked Maple.

    What is Baked Maple?
    Baked Maple is a normal cut of maple (which is quite yellow in colour) that has gone through Torrefication. This means it has been exposed to extreme heat to remove the moisture. Moisture is then returned to the Maple under pressure which darkens the wood. It then looks a lot more like Rosewood or Pau Ferro.

    Gibson Baked Maple fretboard compared to Rosewood
    You may remember a time when Rosewood was quite difficult to source and Baked Maple was a useful alternative. If you want to read more about the Baked Maple process and what it actually is, click here.

    NAMM is right around the corner and this is where we will probably see the first shift away from Rosewood in smaller to mid sized brands.

    Want To Know More?
    Here’s what CITES say about the regulation:

    Timber species
    ‘The success of CITES in supporting legal, sustainable timber trade and addressing illegal trade saw a further 300+ timber species, i.e. all Dalbergia rosewood and palisander species found across the world, being brought under CITES trade controls at CITES CoP17.

    Legal international trade in timber is worth hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Thanks to CITES trade regulations, CITES Management Authorities establish the veracity of the legal origins of rosewood and palisander species before they enter international trade, and CITES Scientific Authorities advise on the sustainable nature of the harvest and exports. Customs officials at border crossings across the globe will verify CITES permits for all such international shipments.’

    If you want more information on the new convention please go to the official CITES website by clicking HERE! or contact us to see how this will affect your future orders.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,100Member, Moderator
    Thanks, Megi.
  • LesterLester Posts: 1,693Member, Moderator
    +1, thanks, Megi. I still can't get that blog to connect.

    As a retailer Richard no doubt has similar limitations. The shop's web site says how he ships all over the world.

    So my personal concerns are false:

    a) the whole EU is treated as one country for the purpose of CITES. When UK leaves the EU in 2 years or so it I expect it will be treated as a separate country. Now is indeed the time for me to thin out a few guitars.

    b) for travelling purposes, guitars that travel with owners will be fine if there is less than 10kg of regulated wood. A fretboard is thus of no concern. Personally I have only gigged in Europe and don't have kit shipped separately. My thoughts are for people like Tommy Emmanuel who travel the world over and with however many guitars he takes - I see he usually has multiple guitars on-stage and probably some backups off-stage.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,190Member
    Happy to help Lester, and the best of luck with getting those guitars sold. It does sound to me that the effects for the UK guitar buyer won't really kick in until we leave the EU, and then I dare say things will still not be too terrible in practice. That is for the consumer of course, and I do hope Richard's business, and others like it, are not seriously impacted.

    Also, re travelling with a single guitar for own use, I'm glad that's exempted, but I'd still be a little wary about putting that one to the test - just needs a bit of an unsure/overly careful/uncaring customs official somewhere. Once your guitar's been confiscated, whatever the rights and wrongs, it might be a bit hard to get it back.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,190Member
    As it happens I'm about to sell my limited edition 1998 Martin SP OOO16 GT. It has a rosewood fretboard and bridge. Mansons offered me £700-750 part ex but do not do cash purchases. It cost me £900 about three years ago (from Mansons) and I can't see that it's gone down in value as it is in the same condition that I bought it (with original hard case.)

    All solid. Mahog back and sides with antique coloured spruce top. Snowflake fret markers and a little to much abalone for my liking but not so much as to stop me being proud of the guitar. Gold tuners.

    I intend to put it on Gumtree to achieve £800 but will be happy to sell it to a buddy here for £700 so long as they cover the shipping. It's a lovely guitar - needs a new saddle as I have my action rather low.

    This was on a flip camera hence the tinniness - I publish this just to give the visuals. I will be able to supply close up pictures very soon.

    Here is a proper recording of it:

    Neither is the true sound - somewhere in the middle is right. Think a decent OOO Martin sound with a guitar built around it ! By no means a 45 but not a million miles off a 28... at a fraction of the price.

    By the way. This guitar is NOTHING like a standard OOO16 which I am not a fan of at all.
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