Rosewood cites limits
Could rosewood be returning to the guitar market?
If you’ve been looking to buy or have just been browsing new guitars in the last two years you’ll have noticed something is missing – rosewood. New regulations that took effect at the beginning of 2017 called for export permit documentation when shipping instruments internationally that contain any amount and type of rosewood as well as certain types of bubinga. The effect was immediate and huge for the guitar industry as manufacturers were forced to employ more sustainable alternatives for building acoustics and fingerboards – such as pau ferro and walnut. But now, for the first time since 2017, there is a sign that things might change.
The original regulations imposed by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) did not apply to instruments shipped within the borders of your country or your own guitars carried for personal use while traveling internationally (up to 10kg) with the regulated woods, but for exports from the Far East and USA they had a huge effect on the acoustic market. The regulations extended the limits of rosewood movement beyond the previous Brazilian rosewood to all types of the wood - including favoured tonewoods, East Indian rosewood, Honduran rosewood and even cocobolo. But a CITES meeting in Russia last year suggests it could be ready to relax the rules for musical instruments.
Following the 7 October meeting of CITES Standing Committee in Sochi regarding the subject, NAMM (North American Association of Musical Merchants) released a statement to report that an international working group comprised of musical instrument industry representatives recommended a change to the CITES regulations to make finished musical instruments exempt from the ruling.
NAMM reported that delegates from the CITES member countries present on the committee agreed that: “commercial and noncommercial trade in musical instruments is not detrimental to the threatened species of wood”. So this is all potentially good news… but there are still steps needed before we can get our fingerboards back on track.
NAMM reported that the proposal will need to be put in the form of a resolution, sponsored by a government body and be formally submitted for consideration at the 18th Conference of the Parties in Sri Lanka in May 2019. But if adopted there, the change would go into effect sometime in mid-summer 2019. Here’s hoping!
CITES agreed that trade in musical instruments is “not detrimental to the threatened species of wood”
Rosewood: coming to a fingerboard near you soon?