The kind of wood you use to build a guitar is very important. Ebony and rosewood are both standard woods in guitar construction, and how the woods all blend together on a guitar is also crucial to how an instrument sounds. The right grade of wood also gets better with age, which is why vintage guitars sound so great, and are worth so much money today.
Which is why if you like to play guitar, and love great guitar tones, the whole wood war the feds were waging against Gibson guitars was a little disconcerting, to say the least.
Just about a year ago now, we reported on what we called "the great Gibson guitar war." Gibson is of course the legendary guitar company that manufactures the Les Paul, as well as other famous models such as the SG, and the Flying V. Like Fender guitars and Marshall amps, Gibson is still one of the top companies in the business, which is quite a feat considering how long they've all been around.
But Gibson came under fire in 2009 and last August 2011 when the factory got raided by the feds over "suspect wood shipments from Madagascar," which FoxNews tells us was an alleged violation of export laws. The wood was ebony, and it was imported from India. It's reportedly illegal to export ebony for fingerboards, but you can bring over ebony veneers that have already been worked on.
Now after all this time, the insanity has apparently finally been settled. As Guitar World reports, Gibson is going to have to pay $350,000 in penalties to settle the federal charges for using illegal imported ebony. This issue also became a political hot-button topic, with even Newt Gingrich weighing in on this in an anti-Obama political commentary called "Out of Tune and Out of Touch."
As Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of Gibson, said in a statement, "We felt compelled to settle as the costs of proving your case at trial would have cost millions of dollars and taken a very long time to resolve... An important part of the settlement is that we are getting back the materials seized in a second armed raid on our factories and we have formal acknowledgement that we can continue to source rosewood and ebony fingerboards from India, as we have done for many decades."