Changing Planet

Gibson penalized for illegal wood purchase


Photo by William Albert Allard


Madagascar’s hissing cockroaches might outlive its supply of tropical hardwood trees, but they’ll surely never be admired for their tonal qualities. Rosewood and ebony wood, on the other hand, are prized by luthiers and musicians. They’re also dangerously over-logged in Madagascar.

Enter Gibson Guitar Corporation, whose stringed instruments, including the iconic Les Paul electric guitar, are mainstays across all kinds of musical genres. Gibson recently admitted to violating a U.S. law that bans illegally logged wood, including ebony from Madagascar. According to a Department of Justice press release:

Gibson purchased “fingerboard blanks,” consisting of sawn boards of Madagascar ebony, for use in manufacturing guitars.   The Madagascar ebony fingerboard blanks were ordered from a supplier who obtained them from an exporter in Madagascar.   Gibson’s supplier continued to receive Madagascar ebony fingerboard blanks from its Madagascar exporter after the 2006 ban.   The Madagascar exporter did not have authority to export ebony fingerboard blanks after the law issued in Madagascar in 2006.

BBC’s coverage is here.

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