Taking a Gibson Axe to the Rainforest?

Following the Economist’s report on federal agents’ raid on the Gibson guitar factory in September, the BBC today carries a more in-depth piece which covers the difficulties of sourcing increasingly rare tone-woods, the challenges of the US Lacey Act and the political Tea Party / over-reaching government dimension.

Most of the ill-informed comments about using alternative materials miss two important points: firstly that different woods do have a significant impact on a guitar’s sound (yes, even noisy, hard-rocking electric guitars) and the reason that rosewood, mahogany and ebony are sought after is their particular acoustic characteristics.  Secondly, the market for guitars is peculiarly conservative.  Despite being the instrument of choice for rebellion and revolutionary youth since the birth of rock ‘n’ roll; the top-selling guitars, by a large margin, are those designed in the 1950s: the Fender Telecaster (1950), the Gibson Les Paul (1952) and the Fender Stratocaster (1954).

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About Andrew Munro

An independent business consultant, interim manager and writer, Andrew operates through his company, Burning Pine Ltd (http://burningpine.com).
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