Biblioteca de la Guitarra y Cuerda Pulsada

Biblioteca de la Guitarra y Cuerda Pulsada

Tonewood: an environmental perspective

For centuries, guitar players and luthiers (guitar makers) have counted on Brazilian rosewood to provide superior tone in the construction of acoustic and electric guitars. Due to deforestation, the species is now threatened by extinction and subject to trade protection under international environmental law. In a rare collision of music and environmental regulation, musicians and luthiers now find themselves on the wrong side of environmental law (the Lacey Act). Shockwaves were sent through the music world in 2011 following a raid at the Gibson Guitar plant in Nashville for violating the Lacey Act. The raid culminated in the confiscation of illegally harvested ebony and rosewood. A group of twenty-five musicians who support laws designed to protect the environment were surveyed for this study. Interviews reveal that less than half of the group support the Gibson raid and that enforcement of the Lacey Act has placed their musical sensibilities at odds with their environmental sensibilities. Challenges to their values system have resulted in trivialization of the Gibson raid, for example blame was placed not on the illegal use of endangered woods, but on political and personal views of the Gibson’s CEO. According to Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance, trivialization of a value or belief not consistent with a behavior may result in future avoidance of similar issues. I argue that a poorly written 2008 amendment to the Lacey Act penalizes a small group of people, guitarists who support environmental policy, and that future support of environmental policy from these musicians is in jeopardy. Revisions to the Lacey Act are needed to exempt guitars from all travel restrictions built prior to 2008 when the law was...

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