Feds Raid Gibson Guitars

Yesterday, US Fish & Wildlife Services agents issued a search warrant on Gibson Guitars’ manufacturing plant in Nashville, TN. The Nashville Post writes that they “seized wood, guitars, computers and boxes of files from Gibson Guitar’s Massman Road manufacturing facility.”

At issue is whether Gibson violated the Lacey Act, which prohibits the importation of rosewood from Madagascar because it serves as a home for lemurs; the Nashville Post suggests Gibson may be suspected of routing the wood through Germany first.

No charges have been filed so far, and according to the Tennessean Gibson says it’s got proof that the imports are legit:

In its statement, Gibson said that it is “a chain of custody certified buyer who purchases wood from legal suppliers who are to follow all standards.”

“Feds raid Gibson offices” [NashvillePost.com via Sean808080]
“Fish & Wildlife agents serve search warrant at Gibson Guitar plant” [Tennessean]
(Photo: twoshortplanks)


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  1. Kaisum says:

    “seized wood, guitars, computers and boxes of files from Gibson Guitar’s Massman Road manufacturing facility.”

    Then they proceeded to rock.

    • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

      @Kaisum: I’m sure all of the “confiscated” guitars will be accounted for when all is said and done. “Oh, those? They were scrapped.”

  2. VidaBlueBalls says:

    Sounds like they’re just stringing us along.

    Try the chicken!

  3. crashman2600 says:

    King Julian will not be happy (those who have kids will know what I mean)

    • Ninjastorm66 says:

      @crashman2600: I’m 23 without kids and I know exactly what you’re talking about. Is that sad?

      • wrjohnston91283 says:


        I’m 26, no kids and just returned Escape to Africa to netflix.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @Ninjastorm66: When I was 21 and caught with a bunch of 4-to-8-year-olds we started playing 20 questions and I said, “I’m thinking of a person.” And one of the little ones shrieks, “IS IT A RUGRAT?” And I was like, “Yes.” “IS IT PHIL AND LIL?” “It’s Phil.”

        I was like, damn, I got pwned by a 5-year-old. Also, my pop culture knowledge is currently appalling.

    • Rachacha says:

      @crashman2600: I have 2 kids and I had no clue what you are talking about (but Google is my friend) so now it makes sense because I never saw the movie, and my kids did not like it enough to play over, and over, and over, and…

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @crashman2600: LOL I thought the same thing!!!!!

      (It’s a cartoon now on Nickelodeon.)

    • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

      @crashman2600: Lemurs like to Move it Move it.


  4. lehrdude says:

    …cause the feds break guitars.

  5. halcyondays says:

    Gotta love the government–putting people out of work in the middle of a recession.

    • Cant_stop_the_rock says:


      They didn’t shut the company down, they just searched their facility and seized some stuff.

      Should we stop enforcing laws because of the recession?

      • treimel says:

        “just seized some stuff”?!?!? You mean, seized the actual materials Gibson uses to make its high-end products, right? I can see you’ve never owned or run a business.

        Way for everybody to assume Gibson did something wrong here–I would bet a shiny quarter no conviction fiollows this.

        • Smashville says:

          @treimel: An investigation isn’t an assumption of guilt. It’s just that – an investigation. Someone has to find out whether or not there’s any truth to an accusation, otherwise, there’d be absolutely no point in having a court system or law enforcement.

          • treimel says:

            @Smshvll_s flng dsmvld:

            I know what an investigation is, the question is, does tuhe federal government? They seized the guitars, but no arrests. I know they’re entitled to, but in my book, that gets the presumptions just a bit backward. “No point in having a court system”? What are you talking about–I’m simply suggesting that if there isn’t enoughh evidence to charge someone, then don’t seize their property. You can still have a court system that abides by that–heck, until recently, we did.
            Moreover, the jumping to concusions to which I was referring was other commentors, but, come to think of it, it applies to the feds, too.

            • Barbobaggins says:

              @treimel: If they had a warrant to seize the wood then they had reasonable suspicion that the wood had been obtained illegally and had already given their reasoning to a judge as the burden of proof lies with the feds to show that their actions are necessary considering the disruption they could cause if they are incorrect. The fact that they did have a warrant shows that they had met this standard. But, unless they had proof that the wood was illegal then they do not have the right to arrest anyone. They would get this proof by going into the place of business, with a warrant, and seizing a few boxes of wood as evidence. If Gibson feels that the warrant is groundless then I am sure their lawyers will be more than happy to argue such in court.
              I have yet to see how the the feds have misused the justice system in this case, nor have I seen any change in how this case was handled compared to long-standard practices and precedents. Perhaps you can give us a few examples of this long-lost standard of investigation you speak of in which one could only collect evidence if one could also make an arrest at the same moment.

        • Blackfished says:

          @treimel: I would absolutely attest to that. I would put money on the fact that this investigation turns absolutely nothing over, whatsoever.

          That being said, this investigation WILL put a large hit on Gibson, and being such a large factor, the rest of the declining music industry. These companies are hemorrhaging money as it is. To declare an investigation that puts this American company’s reputation at stake is abhorrent.

          The company prides itself on utmost quality, similar to Martin and Taylor. Even certain disclaimers are up on the websites (when having custom guitars made) preventing one from selecting Brazilian or Madagascar Rosewood due to the implications of government red-tape.

          This disgusts me.

          • YOXIM says:

            @Blackfished: I’m sorry WHAAAAAAAA????!!!!!!! Believe me, when it comes to putting Gibson’s reputation at stake, the Feds have NOTHING on Gibson. I don’t know what quality you think Gibson prides itself on, but it certainly isn’t the quality of their guitars. As a matter of fact, the quality (or lack thereof), in their instruments, especially the Les Paul models, is what Gibson is known for. Their guitars are grossly overpriced, and nine times out of ten, the Gibson models aren’t really that much better than the Epiphones. Hell, there have been many cases where in a head to head comparison, Epiphones proved to be of higher quality then their twice as expensive Gibson counterparts.

            To even use Gibson in the same sentence as Taylor and Martin is an affront to those two great companies. While I think Les Pauls are awesome and gorgeous guitars, their rampant quality control issues are what has kept me from even considering purchasing one.

            The law enforcement agency in question had probable cause to believe that Gibson was breaking the law. They demonstrated this probable cause to a judge and got a search warrant. Then they executed the aforementioned warrant. They didn’t take ALL the wood/computers/guitars that Gibson had at the factory. There would be no point in taking samples of mahogany when you’re investigating rosewood. It is also worth noting that Gibson does not use rosewood in all of their guitars. Your post give me the impression that just because Gibson is an American company, you believe they should not be investigated for possible wrongdoing.

            That fucking disgusts me.

            • Blackfished says:

              @YOXIM: Being the owner of a tuxedo Custom as well as a 614ce, I think your fan-boy attitude is slightly off kilter. Nix that, then we can have a probable discussion on quality. Sure, the studio models are shit, without a doubt, as well as leasing the rights to Epiphone, however I have never had a single issue on my Custom and doubt I ever will.

              The Taylor is much the same, in that I have had one issue with the pre-amp. So going by my witness, Gibson has actually given me a better quality instrument between the two.

              Now, if you’d like to pick and choose what to bitch about, that’s fine, but misconstruing something like the quality of guitars from me talking about each of the companies refusing to sell Rosewood is horseshit.

              • YOXIM says:

                @Blackfished: I’m not that familiar with Taylors and Martins. Strummed a few in a guitar store, and heard a few of them played. Gorgeous guitars that sound awesome. I also haven’t heard anything bad about either company, unlike Gibson.

                A simple Google search will give you tons of information about Gibson’s quality issues when it comes to the Les Paul models. Depending on when you bought your Gibson, it might have been before this started happening. But believe me, Gibson’s hit and miss quality is the stuff of legends.

                That being said, man how I want a Gibby Flying V. Cherry red. White pickguard. Just not sure I want to fork over $1400 for it.

    • subtlefrog says:

      @halcyondays: Moreover, the Lacey Act is the oldest wildlife protection act we have on the books in the US and has been fairly important in conservation. As a biologist, it can make my life a pain in the ass, even though I am doing things with permits and legitimately, but I’m really glad it’s there – a lot of people do not.

  6. Necroscope says:

    Save the lemurs!!!

  7. Bluth_Cornballer says:

    On a side note, “Seized Wood” would be a good name for a punk band.

  8. Nintenboy01 says:

    Censor that pic! You can see the lemur’s scrotum.

  9. Damocles57 says:

    I build my own guitars from lemur-free rosewood that I grow organically in my zero-carbon-footprint rainforest in Idaho which is possible thanks to global warming.

  10. Gravitational Eddy says:

    If I remember correctly, rosewood is what the frets are slotted into in the neck of the guitar.
    They use rosewood because ???

    (to borrow from MP here)

    “it floats?”
    “so, we throw her into the water and if she floats, she is…”

    sorry. couldn’t help it.

  11. yorick328 says:

    I’ll take a rosewood neck over any rain forest!

  12. Paladin_11 says:

    “There is unrest in the forest/There is trouble with the trees/For the lemurs want more Rosewood/ And the Feds ignore their pleas…”

    Or something like that. Sorry Geddy.

  13. denali says:

    Can we get a new video called “Fish & Wildlife Raids Guitars”?

  14. AbbyfromRA says:

    I wanted to let you know that the Rainforest Alliance has prepared a statement in regards to the Gibson investigation by the USFWS. You can read it here: [www.rainforest-alliance.org]