Gibson Factory Raided By FBI

Federal agents have seized guitars, wood stocks and computer data in a major raid on Gibson, the first since 2009.

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Federal agents have raided the Gibson Guitar factories and offices in Memphis and Nashville, seizing several pallets of wood, computer data and guitars.

Gibson's chairman and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz accused the Justice Department of bulying their company, saying their wood is from a Forest Stewardship Council certified supplier and that the feds are using needlessly aggressive tactics.

Agents last seized guitars and wood from Gibson in 2009, and the resulting case continues under the title "United States of America v. Ebony Wood in Various Forms." On that occasion, the wood was seized to find out whether Gibson had been making instruments out of wood from protected forests, such as the Madagascar ebony which is known for making excellent fretboards, though according to the Wall Street Journal, this is not by itself an illegal offence.

The current raid seems to be to discover whether wood sourced from India met importing requirements.

Other instrument companies could be feeling the heat, with the potential for their businesses to see the same kind of raid on their stock.

John Thomas, a law professor at Quinnipiac University and a blues guitarist, says "there's a lot of anxiety, and it's well justified." He once took his vintage guitars along on his travels, but no more. Now, "I don't go out of the country with a wooden guitar."

Some musicians are reportedly settling for carbon fiber instruments to avoid the implications of transporting certain woods worldwide.

168 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    fastlanestoner
    wow...didn't know that wood was such a big deal. wtf? now I can't tour japan? I luled at the "United States of America v. Ebony Wood in Various Forms." line
    macheted01
    I don't own a Gibson guitar, but would love to. I can't afford it. Everybody gives me shit. Buy American. Seems kind of contradictory that the US is bullying there own US companies. You would think they have better things to do.
    bortbort
    jsspang wrote: on3andth3sam3 wrote: they're supposed to run out of popular guitar building woods in under 15 years or so, so get them while they're still here. How stupid!!! I know you read that on this site, I read that article too. Don't believe everything you read on the internet. Man has the ability to plant trees. They will never "run out of trees"
    Yeah they can just replant them and they'll be 100 years old in no time..... Yeah, that was sarcasm.
    almostlike/
    jsspang wrote: I'm European anyway. Land of the free. HAHA, you mean land where everything cost 3x more because of taxes, and everyone lives in broom closets because no one can afford a house!!!
    Actually, I don't know if Europeans pay three times more for stuff than you Americans, but if we do, that's because our currency is worth a lot more than yours hence everything we buy seems more expensive to you. Anyway, we don't live in broom closets and actually our houses have some manufacturing quality, they're not american-like wooden houses which any small storm can torn apart at its own free will. As for the land of the free part, not sure if I agree with that for the whole of Europe but in most of it its kind of a fair point. Oh and actually the home ownership statistics for US are way below those of Ireland (which is in deep economic crisis) or the United Kingdom; it actually is well below Greece, one of the European countries most affected by the crisis. So, yeah... Think about that. Anyway, next time you try trolling, be a little more accurate. Peace out.
    LeoKisomma
    I can completely understand why people need to save trees, but the american government has been bullying rock music and it's suppliers for years. Court cases against Judas priest and Ozzy Osbourne, attempted censorship in the 80s(which the loyers involved admitted wouldn't censor country and western music). Well here's a fact. Rock music's still here and still strong despite the government protests. Frank Zappa predicted labeling records as elicit lyrics would increase sales and it did. You'd think the poloticians would get the message.
    Gabe_V&A
    The Federal Bureau of Bullsh!t!!!!! When accusing another company of doing something corrupt look at yourselves you retards
    theblazinasian
    Ebony Wood in Various Forms, in order to ensure its safety, is going to enlist the help of all other woods. Should Ebony Wood be declared guilty, the judge will not be able to bring down his gavel.
    CNILE
    This has been going on for years. I remember being at the Dallas guitar show in the mid-90's when they seized a shipment of vintage guitars going to Japan that had been bought by a collector. Deforestation is what led to this, all the good wood being cut down for farm and ranch land in the rainforests. The ebony is almost extinct. If people weren't so snobby about the wood and materials being used, we could still get 750.00 Les Pauls, US made. Somebody probably screwed up some paperwork, and the feds are doing what they get paid for.Gibson uses managed forest hardwoods, but it's possible that they got burnt by someone in the supply chain. Remember, no trees=NO AIR.
    emr_steelmech
    Some musicians are reportedly settling for carbon fiber instruments to avoid the implications of transporting certain woods worldwide.
    WHO? How many people on UG have carbon fiber guitars?
    MrVSC
    explosionate wrote: Eric Holder and the Obama Administration are just jealous over how much wood people are packing. Seriously though, there has been very questionable activity from the Justice Department these days while offering no transparency at all. I do not like it.
    The US is becoming more and more a police state under our Great Leader, and we're all either too stoned or stupid to notice. Not the first business the Feds have raided unjustly this year. At least I can enjoy my Gibson in the comfort of my own home ... for now.
    Nanobotter
    Gibson should open factories in Mexico. They will be able to use the most illegal wood in the universe and no one would care.
    tonello
    Take away my ice cream, I'll deal with it, but take away my SG, and I'll kick your ****ing ass from here back to Kenya.
    Black Hazard
    Wow, you'd think the FBI would have better things to do than play guitar. Then again, 99.9% of the stories posted here are fake bullshit.
    JonnyMonster91
    InterYoSista wrote: fastlanestoner wrote: wow...didn't know that wood was such a big deal. You mong. This has to be the stupidest thing ive read. Wood is obviously not only important to guitars(although your guitar is probably made of air) but to the rainforests that are being demolished at the alarming rate they are. As for touring Japan, just be grateful if you ever get out of the caravan park.
    I nominate you for the 'Prick of the Year' award.
    headbang123
    Why's everyone complaining about Gibson prices!? You can buy the exact same guitar from Epiphone for probably a fourth of the price with more features (like the kill switch) and WAY better action.
    espChris93
    C0FF1NCAS3 wrote: Solve debt problems, run stings and raids on drug cartels or gangs, or deal with any other important issue in US or blow money, man-hours, and time on conducting raids on Gibson to see if they used illegal wood in a way that wouldn't be illegal by itself. Seriously? Are you kidding me? Even if Gibson is using protected wood they are using it on their best most expensive guitars and how many are they making of those a year? Maybe a hundred? Can't see the $3500-4500 price range being a big seller. Seems like a problem we could deal with later.
    Bad reference saying a better alternative would be busting "drug cartels" Our millions upon millions of wasted taxpayer dollars being poured into the DEA is a major component of the US' massive financial problem. Besides that if we need a law to tell us "drugs are bad! watch out" then we might as well have laws about walking off of cliffs. Life is life, people make their own decision and its completely idiotic that big daddy government has to tell us what is safe for us to do. This isn't my soapbox though so I'll cut this rant you probably don't agree with short.
    arnolddrummer
    wes_jett2008 wrote: on3andth3sam3 wrote: they're supposed to run out of popular guitar building woods in under 15 years or so, so get them while they're still here. i've played a few carbon fiber guitars, and although they play amazingly, to me, it doesn't come close. You are aware that wood is a renewable resource right?
    You are aware that we are using more wood than is produced right?
    OldRhoadsFan
    Think I'll put in an application for the FBI....I really need a Les Paul Traditional Plus in Cherry Sunburst.
    BasSXWarrior
    Solution. STOP CUTTING TREES AND WASTING THEM ON PAPER AND OTHER USELESS CRAP, Make all that useless CRAP WITH HEMP.... God this world makes me angry. We kill giant trees that change Co2 to oxygen (we're polluting ourselves with co2) and building more cars to put on the road with it. See where this imbalance is heading ?
    BornOfBoredom
    wow the FBI are ****in retarded using all these resources on somethin thats "according to the Wall Street Journal, not by itself an illegal offence." what a load a shit
    OctoberWind
    jsspang wrote: on3andth3sam3 wrote: they're supposed to run out of popular guitar building woods in under 15 years or so, so get them while they're still here. How stupid!!! I know you read that on this site, I read that article too. Don't believe everything you read on the internet. Man has the ability to plant trees. They will never "run out of trees"
    But it'll probably take a while for trees that have been replanted to grow to a useable size. So we'll never "run out", just not have any suitable poplar trees for some time.
    oldmetallica
    this all a conspiracy orchestrated by Gibson as an excuse to raise guitar prices....just kidding. but this is ****ed. **** the fed.
    Skuzzmo
    OctoberWind wrote: jsspang wrote: on3andth3sam3 wrote: they're supposed to run out of popular guitar building woods in under 15 years or so, so get them while they're still here. How stupid!!! I know you read that on this site, I read that article too. Don't believe everything you read on the internet. Man has the ability to plant trees. They will never "run out of trees" But it'll probably take a while for trees that have been replanted to grow to a useable size. So we'll never "run out", just not have any suitable poplar trees for some time.
    EG Basswood takes 90 to 140 years to mature..... Hope everyone like Pine guitars.....
    judo_john
    espal wrote: Well, I guess if their chairmen go behind bars, they'll get A LOT of ebony wood
    YOU! my good man. ARE A LEGEND! XD
    underoath0902
    Anjohl wrote: If you cannot afford 5-6 hundred dollars for a guitar, find another hobby.
    That's about as daft, useless, and pretentious as saying "If you can't afford a Jag, get off the road and find a job you can walk to." That's rent for some of us and many of us are going check to check for that alone. Give a good guitarist a $200 guitar and it'll be more productive than a jack-off with a $600 guitar. It's the music, not the ostentatiousness of the badge, that listeners care about. Now my post-related comment: I understand why the law is there. I agree with it for the most part. I can understand a fine for disobeying the law (whether you agree with the law or not, it exists). But raiding the company? What are the feds going to do with it if it was in fact illegally obtained? Throw it away? Build another tree? That's the bit I find over-the-top and pointless. Whatever they do with it will be more wasteful than using the existing stock for guitars. Fine them if you want, arrest people if you want, embargo if you want, but at least let them use what's in stock or else it will be even more of a waste of the tree.
    marshmellow666
    this is kind of like making food out of endagered animals, eating food isnt illegal but the killing of the endangered animal is yo
    cmford
    Skuzzmo wrote: EG Basswood takes 90 to 140 years to mature..... Hope everyone like Pine guitars.....
    Until the pine beetles eat all of those up... Quick, get your Gibson before the beetles do. Damn you Ringo!!!
    zomgguitarz1234
    CaliforniaKid wrote: DrCOOL wrote: More wasted time, money, and man power on pointless shit. Way to go America! Thanks for making us look like more of a sorry joke than we already do. This.
    Yeah we should save all our money and let huge companies plow through rain forests and eradicate all the wood that is extremely important building material. I mean who needs extremely valuable resources when we're all losing a few bucks out of our pockets!?
    Vabolo
    Next time, on UG: See the flame war started when a guitarist said that he preferred having a pet cat to having a pet dog.
    tonello
    Well, I see where our priorities lie with the government. Good thing I won't vote Obama again.
    link no1
    Xelested wrote: jsspang wrote: I'm European anyway. Land of the free. HAHA, you mean land where everything cost 3x more because of taxes, and everyone lives in broom closets because no one can afford a house!!! Countries don't run on happy thoughts. Maybe you should take a look at that US Debt Clock?
    I couldn't give a s*** about the US debt. The guy is right, we may aswell live in closets and everything costs way more because of taxes. Then we have to remember our own debt from bailing other countrys out of debt and extreme overpopulation due to stupid underage pregnancys, having too many children per family and the pretty much 'non existant' immigration laws and control making the 'closets' hard to find. Anyway, to the people complaining "it's just wood", "it's a renewable source" "we can plant more" etc. need to think about things more. Firstly remember that there is only a limited number of usable trees at any one time, by this I mean big enough to farm for the wood. Trees take a long time to grow and wood is used for more things than just a guitar for you to play in your spare time. Buildings, furniture, crappy woodwork classes. There is alot it is used for and not enough 'useable' trees for the growing demand. People also don't plant a tree for every one used. For every 3 trees used probably 1 tree is planted. Take into account how long that type of tree takes to grow and we have a tree that we can use for wood in [xx] amount of years. Lastly, if the government of US does this to Gibson, a huge company that only people living under a rock don't know about, then other companys that use wood will hear about it. This would send out a warning at least to the companys to not use illegal wood, or at least get rid of it and never use it again. Also, it still sounds like a stupid thing...FBI raids Gibson for illegal wood...I mean, c'mon, getting busted for posetion of 'illegal wood' makes getting busted for littering sound like murder.
    buddhatheory13
    Wow. To the gentleman who mentioned European money being more valueable, that is in fact true. However, that means you would be using less of your currency, not more, to equal what we have to use. For example, if your currency is worth twice that of the American dollar, you would be using 1 half the amount of currency we would use in order to make a purchase of an item valued at said dollar amount. Not trying to argue, and I don't necessarily disagree with you; but to call someone out for making an uninformed statement, you should probably think about what youre saying first...
    Mad_Blue
    *picks up guitar and strums a g-chord* I play these songs in dedication to everybody here ....Why can't we be friend's?...Why can't we be friend's? And The Beatles put it best....Can't we all live on a yellow submarine, beneath the waves in the sea of green, with all of our ffiend's on board and many more of them living next door...with sky's of blue and seas of green on this yellow submarine?
    121lespaul
    i feel like all this is gonna do is promote gibson and other companies to stop producing american guitars and send it to a foriegn country! Way to go U.S. Government get rid of yet another american made product! im ashamed to be an american right now!!
    Seref
    This is why when I do my guitar builds I pay cash for the exotic stuff, especially South American and Caribbean woods. Here's a handy list of protected and endagered woods harvested for lumber so you can better circumvent the government: http://www.wood-database.com/wood-articl... dangered-wood-species/
    C0FF1NCAS3
    Solve debt problems, run stings and raids on drug cartels or gangs, or deal with any other important issue in US or blow money, man-hours, and time on conducting raids on Gibson to see if they used illegal wood in a way that wouldn't be illegal by itself. Seriously? Are you kidding me? Even if Gibson is using protected wood they are using it on their best most expensive guitars and how many are they making of those a year? Maybe a hundred? Can't see the $3500-4500 price range being a big seller. Seems like a problem we could deal with later.
    InterYoSista
    fastlanestoner wrote: wow...didn't know that wood was such a big deal.
    You mong. This has to be the stupidest thing ive read. Wood is obviously not only important to guitars(although your guitar is probably made of air) but to the rainforests that are being demolished at the alarming rate they are. As for touring Japan, just be grateful if you ever get out of the caravan park.
    Septemfluous
    Why the vitriol? There is no reason to be an ass. Attacking this guys playing abilities because he doesn't know the importance of protected resources is uncalled for.
    rageahol
    Looks like I'll be getting a Fender then. Maple fretboard just to be sure I won't get arrested.