CITES Ends Rosewood Restrictions for Musical Instruments

Bass Fretboard with Rosewood

Two years after setting restrictions on the international trade of rosewood, the Conference on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (aka CITES) has set exemptions for finished musical instruments, parts, and accessories. Restrictions on rosewood for musical instruments were lifted with the exception of Brazilian rosewood, which was on the endangered species list before the ruling in 2017. The vote was passed on August 28th and went into effect on November 26th.

“The US Fish and Wildlife Service will no longer issue permits for the export of finished musical instruments, parts, and accessories, bringing an end to much of the headaches that have plagued the musical instruments industry for the last several years,” reports. “According to the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), CITES member countries outside of the US may still have restrictions in place as they move toward abiding by the musical instruments exemption. NAMM advises anyone exporting instruments from the US to ‘check with the recipient’s country to see what permits, if any, are required.'” They add that the EU will take up to four weeks to implement the exemption.

The restrictions passed in 2016 and put in place for 2017 aimed to reduces the amount of rosewood, bubinga, and other endangered woods used in manufacturing. NAMM and other music industry groups successfully argued that the amount of rosewood used for instruments was a sliver of that used to make furniture.

Rosewood is very commonly used for electric bass fingerboards as well as other applications for boutique instruments. Companies have found alternate materials, with Fender opting for pau ferro and Sandberg utilizing steamed oak.

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