Knock on Wood

This is about CITES and wood so bear with me……

Idling the evening away, Lego tower wobbling in the middle of the room, triumphant that it’s still standing. I watch some 2016 Annual Review as if I’d slept the whole year through. Dear departed rock stars and Tango Head Man and the Olympics, corruption, performance enhancing drugs – wish they did those for guitar……

Now if I ‘m honest I don’t really see what’s wrong with drug taking in the pursuit of sporting excellence. Or at least I consider they should have a dual system The Clean, which people would quickly tire of and The Chemically Enhanced.

Nail your colours to the mast and go for it. See just what could be achieved, pumped to the eyeballs, records broken, fame & burst arteries maybe , heart failure, faster than a speeding bullet or at least Roadrunner. Beep Beep. Only rule would be they must have a pulse when the finish line is crossed.

This would decriminalise the chemistry, wipe out the corruption and bribery. Provide a showcase for the chemical industry and remove the mystique. We’d all just become voyeurs and hopefully have no desire to consume having seen the results.
Huge sponsorship opportunities. Boots the Chemist, Pfeizer, there must be loads out there, desperate to fork out if only it was legal. Tax revenues would flood in.

Let the wealthy pay for it. Who’s really bothered if some two-goat hell hole hosts the event with a brand new stadium paid for by some oligarchy with the biggest bag of powder?

Sport – what do I know? Always a hopeless candidate, eyesight like a myopic mole. Nobody ever picked me for their team when I was a kid. Dreadful NHS spec’s, the heavy tortoiseshell ones. Couldn’t wear the much sought after John Lennon numbers, lenses too thick for the wire frames you see – or not in my case.

Just half a point off being a registered something or other, Specky Twat was it? Awful time.

At least it was free NHS spec’s with a choice of two colours in those days.

I just had to get some new bins this week. A cool £ 800 for my posh ultra-thin lenses. Optician said any stronger and I could probably see in to next week and that I would qualify for Government assistance.

I perk up in my optical fog – really? How much assistance? Well you don’t quality but it would have been £4. Fuck off, that’s just a great help. I bet the administration costs £40 a time.

At least nobody forces me to play football anymore. I could never understand all that football and cricket stuff. Our school pitch was on the edge of a cliff overlooking the North Sea. It used to snow horizontal in the winter and we wore shorts, kicking a ball about in a Force 10.

In the summer we’d hang around in cricket jumpers and long trousers sweating our tits off. Barking mad. We were a 1970’s Comprehensive experiment. The posh school up the road played rugby.

With the smack of leather on willow still ringing in my memory – I could never hit fuck all, that brings me smartly round to Rosewood. Genus Dalbergia.

The law relating to CITES and protected species changed on 2 January 2017. Brazilian Rosewood, much sought after for musical instruments and used by Fender & Gibson extensively up to around 1967 for fingerboards and bridges was banned around 1993 by CITES. Now all species of Rosewood, including Indian Rosewood have been brought within the scope of similar international legislation.

This is largely due to our friends in the Far East consuming vast quantities for furniture and other frivolous unnecessary commodities, so we are advised by the Powers-That-Be in the West. Blatantly ignoring the fact that us civilized Westerners started all the deforestation, industrialization, pollution, environmental damage and raging materialism some two hundred years earlier. Don’t get me wrong, I like a posh designer hand bag as much as the next man and if you can’t afford one that’s just fucking tough – work harder and stop sponging.

So – Rosewoods. The law is International and upheld by most countries, thankfully. In a nutshell, maybe a Walnut, it is illegal to buy, sell or exchange any guitar containing Brazilian Rosewood manufactured circa 1947 – 1992 without the appropriate certificate. It is not, curiously, illegal to own said instrument. This applies to all instruments, despite the fact they were manufactured quite legally historically. This applies to everyone involved, buyer & seller, commercial or private, player or collector. Whether it’s a new vintage guitar you wish to buy or an old one you want to sell.

Any guitar being offered for sale or exchange must be advertised with a copy of the certificate number published. Most dealers and retailers do not do this.

If you choose to ignore this there are fines, seizure – that will be you that has the seizure when your 1960 Strat’ is trashed by Customs – or imprisonment. I’m not sure if these are optional punishments – pick one only.

You may as well beat a tiger to death with a fresh elephant tusk.

To straighten all this out you will need an Article 10 Certificate for each guitar bought or sold within the UK.

Should you wish to exit the EU – oh my, oh my, the bloody Government never mentioned that recently, import or export beyond these boundaries, additional permits are required.

As of 2 January 2017 similar, although not quite so onerous, conditions have been applied to guitars containing Indian Rosewood – so probably most quality guitars caught out here, unless you prefer electric blonde or the less common ebony.

It is illegal to import or export Rosewood outside the EU without a permit from the country of export and a further permit for entry in to the UK. So beware all those potential purchases from the USA on Reverb.com, brand new or used, it doesn’t matter. Indian Rosewood guitars can be traded within the UK / Europe without any paperwork.

Practically, the big risk is impounding by Customs and loss of the guitar. It is very difficult to obtain permits retrospectively, as the law has already been broken at that point and ignorance, as we all know, is no excuse.

Brexit looming will bring about the same problems with import / export from Europe. So you will only be able to sell or buy within the confines of the UK without permits in place.

All this applies right now to the likes of Fender wanting to send Rosewood fingerboard stock to the UK from USA. Each instrument needs a permit. Unless Trump burns everything of course.

Speculating, will Indian Rosewood rise in value as the big manufacturers drop Indian for “greener”, cheaper, permit free but possibly inferior products ? Baked, compressed, reconstituted fingerboards may become commonplace.

Very recently I took a walk down Denmark Street and further afield in London. Innocently enquiring of five retailers “what to do about CITES and was it a problem ?”

I was firmly told it was “all bollocks, not applicable, ignore it, who cares ? only applies in Germany, it’s just a USA thing and it costs over £200 ”. Very professional response I thought …… Then again if you sell on consignment or commission it’s not your instrument that gets seized.

All guitars we sell containing Brazilian Rosewood have a valid Article 10 Certificate. Export licenses will be organized if required. Costs vary but range from around £ 31 – £ 65 for individual permits.

We will also apply for permits and certificates on your behalf, if you wish, for a small fee.

The preceding drivel is a light hearted overview. The legislation and administration is complicated and includes other timber species and of course ivory products including nuts, saddles and bridge pins.

We take absolutely no responsibility for the above content but don’t get caught out – if you need any further advice don’t go to Denmark Street.