According to Digital Music News, federal agents raided Gibson Guitar’s facilities in Nashville and Memphis, TN last Wednesday, August 24. During the raid, agents seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars on account of four separate warrants.
What in the world did Gibson do to receive such attention from federal agents, you ask? Well, the Justice Department has been accusing the guitar company of committing violations related to precious imported timber. In other words, Gibson is being accused of using wood from rare and endangered trees. The fight between Gibson and the Justice Department has been going on for years nows, including an incident in 2009 when Gibson faced seizures regarding their ebony fingerboards from Madagascar.
In regards to the most recent raid, Gibson released the following statement:
“Gibson has complied with foreign laws and believes it is innocent of ANY wrongdoing. We will fight aggressively to prove our innocence.”
Gibson Guitar CEO Henry Juszkiewicz added the following in the company’s defense:
“Gibson has a long history of supporting sustainable and responsible sources of wood and has worked diligently with entities such as the Rainforest Alliance and Greenpeace to secure Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified supplies. The wood seized on August 24th satisfied FSC standards.”
The raid raises a major ethics debate amongst musicians and fans. Any guitarist (or musician for that matter) can tell you how the highest quality of wood can really make a difference in an instrument’s sound. On the other hand, one has to ask whether such an improvement in sound is worth the sacrifice of said endangered wood.