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CITES: Major changes to Wooden Instruments

This year has seen a big change for many Instrument manufacturers, distributors, retailers and even collectors and re-sellers; especially those selling Guitars, and some Woodwinds, and some Wood Mallet Percussion.  As of January 2017, CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) expanded their list of protected species to protect all types of Rosewood.  Before this year CITES only protected Brazilian Rosewood, but now covers all species of Rosewood under the genus Dalbergia and three Bubinga species

Instruments are not to blame for this.  For years there has been questionable sourcing of Rosewood in some furniture manufacturing in some parts of the world.  CITES seeks to curb this illegal and environmentally damaging trade of materials.   Instruments were simply caught up in the new regulations.

What does this mean for you?

Any instrument that is now shipped between countries with wood from the newly protected species requires requires a extensive paperwork and permits to be imported.   Any instruments containing the new protected woods produced prior to January 2nd, 2017 also will require proper documentation showing when it was produced.

This in some cases means shipments of new Instruments have experienced long delays due to the filing, processing and approval of permits.  We at Music Collection have experienced this many times already on a few customer special and custom orders.  These orders which typically only take weeks are now sometimes delayed by several months.   Some products have also become unavailable in Canada simply because the manufacturers can’t import/export them any more.

For companies and even individuals selling, reselling or trading instruments with others outside Canada, you can not ship an instrument with Rosewood across the border without a CITES permit.   CITES does allow for trade and sale of instruments within the country where they already are.   That’s why we don’t need a CITES permit to sell you a Rosewood instrument in the shop, but it’s a reason why we are for now limiting our online sales to within Canada.  You can still buy or sell an Instrument off anyone within Canada, but to try and ship it between countries without the proper documents the instrument could be sent back or potentially even seized at the border.  So be aware you’re looking at purchasing used wooden instrument online from an another individual who is outside Canada.

Big Changes for Guitars

As you know, most Guitars in recent years have a Rosewood Fingerboard and bridge, which is restricted by CITES.  As a result most Guitar companies are now looking towards alternative materials for Rosewood fingerboards as they look towards keep costs in check, lowering delivery times and reducing the bureaucracy around shipping.   Some of the major manufacturers have already announced their planned changes.

For example in September 2017 Washburn informed us they will soon be adding new product coding suffixes showing which wood will be used on that Guitar’s Fingerboard and Bridge.  Washburn Guitars will soon all come with the following codes at the end of a model number: R for Rosewood, A for TechWood, O for Ovankol, D for Ebony or W for Walnut.   For example HD10S-R would be similar the current Washburn HD10S made with Rosewood Fingerboard, while a HD10S-W would have a different walnut fingerboard.