Gibson Guitars raided by SWAT team


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Huh!

We gonna come in and take all that ebony and rosewood you got. From India? That's obviously suspect right away. Waddaya mean, you need it for guitars? Who cares? What's wrong with good ole American pine? Why haven't you opened up your factory offshore, like everyone else anyhow? (Mebbe, if you're good, we'll tell you the charges later.)

My friend - a fine guitarist - has bought a few of his beloved Gibsons from that factory, and he's going to be bemused to hear this.

Tony

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Because of being in the business, I've been watching this thing for awhile. This thing with the wood has been going on for years and years--mainly because of depopulation of rain forests (as he went across talking about how a commission was set up). Guitar manufacturing (starting mostly with Gibson) has a deep root in the furniture industry. In fact, that is why the original Kalamazoo plant is where it is--surrounded by premium wood sources (particularly mahogany, the mainstay of Gibson bodies).

Actually, though, Gibson never got super exotic like many later companies did, especially around the eighties. This is where people starting making astounding instruments out of scarce woods-- African rosewood, Koa, premium Swamp Ash, that sort of deal. And around that time these woods were also being extensively harvested to make other pricey items (furniture, jewelry, sculptures, whatever). Now, considering how much rain forest was being burned down every day, I still contend that by comparison, this is kind of small potatoes, especially in the guitar market, which is somewhat smaller than people realize. This was a time of very harsh, militant environmentalism.

There was some skinny within the closer parts of the industry, which I tended to be very privy--and this on the first raid. I am only sharing scuttlebutt and must tread softly.

See, Henry has been known to be a lot greasier than he comes out. This first thing got him into a good spot of mess, with the legal fees alone, I would imagine. It is possible that Henry went out kind of on his own (outside of their normal acquisition process) and brought in some stuff that maybe he should not have. And then after it hit the fan, Gibson was strapped by it (this company works very close to the bone and has suffered many near blowups over the years). It is further possible that Guitar Center (the largest music chain in the world and surely his main distrubutor) took some paper on Gibson and threw some fix-it money in there. I can imagine this kind of put a drag on profits over at Gibson, or at the least put them in the unfortunate position of being leveraged by their own main client. Messy.

I think he was warned and on principle (which I am not arguing) just kept at it. I'm not surprised they did something that harsh to him, and neither should he be. Again, I'm not saying it was right. But, I am saying that Henry might not have been pristine on their end, either. The Madagascar deal smelled a little funny.

But still, storm troopers? Jesus.

One additional thing I find sad for Gibson is that, quite frankly, outside of their custom and upper-line instruments (and even those, occasionally) the quality and pricing are disturbing. They are not like they used to be. And at like 2500.00 GLP minimum for a Les Paul Standard, no bloody way. Not all the way, but for many years Gibson has been selling off its name--to a good extent it is the name on the headstock.

Another thing: do you have any idea how many import guitars come in here with the same woods on them? Korea and China are the dominant suppliers of entry-to midline instruments (and Indonesia is now coming in strong), and the great majority of those guitars have rosewood fingerboards. Even Gibson, with their very large import line (Epiphone). Rosewood only comes from certain places anymore--pretty much. So this whole finished/semi finished thing is so fucking haenky anyway, right?

r

Edited by Rich Engle
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I think it's ironic that many hardcore environmetalists are also avid music fans who don't want anyone messing with the "purity" of their sound.

This should get quite amusing after a while.

btw - I have a great solution for anyone who is bothered by this kind of governmental influence in the market. It's called the black market. I learned that one first-hand in Brazil. And it works.

I always got what I wanted regardless of the regulations. Ya' just gotta' be careful. But then again, after looking at all the legalized scams floating around, you realize that dealing with risk is inherent in all markets, regulated or not.

Michael

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I think it's ironic that many hardcore environmetalists are also avid music fans who don't want anyone messing with the "purity" of their sound.

This should get quite amusing after a while.

btw - I have a great solution for anyone who is bothered by this kind of governmental influence in the market. It's called the black market. I learned that one first-hand in Brazil. And it works.

I always got what I wanted regardless of the regulations. Ya' just gotta' be careful. But then again, after looking at all the legalized scams floating around, you realize that dealing with risk is inherent in all markets, regulated or not.

Michael

Exactly. When I used to have the arguments with my students about gun control in NY City, I would make the declaration that if they would describe an accessible weapon, I would make some "inquiries" with some folks that I knew, and I would bring back a price and have that weapon on their desk in the classroom within a week or less.

Hell, my two cousins and I were going to buy a Swedish Anti-tank gun which came with a sled for pulling it in the snow! It was being advertised in the American Rifleman magazine which we subscribed to as NRA members. This was in the 1960's.

Did not even need the black market for that, just a non-NY City address which we had plenty of.

Adam

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Yeah but believe me, bootlegging wood is not going to be an option for these guys. Oh, I know for sure it has been--especially for super-select models. Very small shipments of very expensive woods. Like I said, I think even that Madagascar thing was a little off. You wouldn't believe what you used to be able to get. There were so many little broker suppliers; it was done mostly mail order. Some of the companies were selling body blocks, others even raw bodies. You still see it around sometimes. I know a lot of luthiers that are always keeping their eyes out for old desks and things like that, for that matter. Even good mahogany is hard to find. That's why the Kalamazoo plant worked so well for so long--the furniture business in, say, Grand Rapids, and so on. Note: the Kalamazoo plant (now know as Heritage guitars--I used to work for them) was closed in the mid seventies, with Gibson opening the Nashville facility.

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Rich:

It seems that this "raid" was conducted under the auspices of the Lacey Act**** which may have been "modified" two (2) years ago to "import" the laws of the other country into the US and make them binding here! This fucking law started in 1900 as a simple Federal poaching act and was signed by President McKinley, clearly establishing another good reason for what removed him from office. Now see the result of incrementalism!

Henry Juszkiewicz, the CEO of Gibson was on the Mark Levin Show Tuesday night, 08/30 The Mark Levin Show, it begins @ 91:42 on the audio bar and runs to approximately 106.14.

Henry.jpg

Henry Juszkiewicz Website here

The Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 3371-3378, protects both plants and wildlife by creating civil and criminal penalties for a wide array of violations. Most notably, the Act prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported or sold. Thus, the Act underscores other federal, state, and foreign laws protecting wildlife by making it a separate offense to take, possess, transport, or sell wildlife that has been taken in violation of those laws. The Act prohibits the falsification of documents for most shipments of wildlife (a criminal penalty) and prohibits the failure to mark wildlife shipments (civil penalty). The Lacey Act is administered by the Departments of the Interior, Commerce, and Agriculture through their respective agencies. These include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

****The Animal Legal and Historical Center Website <<<<phenomenal website, in terms of it's use as a resource and terrifying in terms of the Federal tyranny it imposes on the sovereign individual citizen.

When laws blanket the land, everyone becomes an outlaw!

Fuck the State!

Adam

oh, did I mention that Gibson is non-union and many of his competitors who allegedly use the same wood from the same place are union and have NEVER been raided.

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Yep, Merlon.

I was going to mention the donation aspect, but in the Levin interview, Henry specifically responded to Mark's first question, answering that they contributed to Democrats also. So, that is up in the air as to a definite cause, but I believe it still is a probable additional cause.

Adam

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks, this supports the presumption I had that there is a political hit job in progress that goes beyond the "non-union" aspects.

Additionally, it appears to be another piece of the Alinsky protocols to collapse American industry.

Finally, it clarifies the owner's statement in the Mark Levin interview which deflected the question about political donations to Republicans. In that interview, the owner stated that they donated to Democrats also, but he was not specific as to the donations being to local, state or federal Dems or Reps.

Adam

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Why haven't you opened up your factory offshore, like everyone else anyhow? Tony

Hmmm...

Tony

Ok, now I am lost on this one?

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Why haven't you opened up your factory offshore, like everyone else anyhow? Tony
Hmmm... Tony
Ok, now I am lost on this one?

Adam,

Only some amazing prescience in my earlier post:

("Why don't you make your guitars in Madagascar?")!!

Some less charitable folk will say it was a lucky shot in the dark, but I say "Told you so!"

:cool:

Tony

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

And as we sit on our hands, the federal hit squads carry out the tyranny of the regulators...

On Aug. 24, federal agents descended on three factories and the Nashville corporate headquarters of the Gibson Guitar Corp. Accompanied by armored SWAT teams with automatic weapons, agents from the Fish and Wildlife Service swarmed the factories, threatening bewildered luthiers, or guitar craftsman, and other frightened employees. A smaller horde invaded the office of CEO Henry Juszkiewicz, pawing through it all day while an armed man stood in the door to block his way.
"I was pretty upset," Mr. Juszkiewicz says now, sitting outside that same office.
"But you can only do so much when there's a gun in your face and it's the federal government.
" When the chaos subsided, the feds (with a warrant issued under a conservation law called the Lacey Act) had stripped Gibson of almost all of its imported Indian rosewood and some other materials crucial to guitar making.

http://online.wsj.co...EditorialPage_h

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