Music Industry Weighs In On Laws Affecting Gibson Guitar
by Aundrea Cline-Thomas
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Gibson Guitar's CEO is waiting to hear when he can meet with federal officials.
On August 24, the guitar maker's Nashville and Memphis facilities were raided after accusations the company illegally imported ebony and rosewood from India. Not only is Gibson looking for answers, so are some in the music industry.
"We are being treated just like drug cartels and we're making guitars," Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz said.
Three weeks later Juszkiewicz saID no charges have been filed, leaving him with some unanswered questions for the Department of Justice.
"We asked them for a meeting," he said," they are just trying to schedule a date."
Production has resumed even without the questionable wood. However Juszkiewicz said it has already cost the company millions.
"We are hustling as best we can to replace some of the product," he said.
Music lovers saID the alternatives are just not the same.
Few people know guitars like George Gruhn. His clients include Eric Clapton, Vince Gill and other well-known musicians. The who's who of the music industry from all over the world come to him for vintage guitars.
While made legally, vintage guitars have wood that now comes with stiff restrictions.
Exporting them, formerly a large part of his business, is now virtually impossible.
"It's costing me in lost business at least $2 million a year," Gruhn explained.
Similar federal laws that are restricting Gruhn's overseas business are the ones being cited in Gibson's investigation. The laws specify how specific types of wood should be imported and exported. The laws were enacted in hopes of preventing the exploitation of other countries resources.
"This is an issue that was poorly thought out when the laws were enacted," Gruhn explained.
That's why he is watching what happens in Gibson Guitar's federal investigation. Gruhn said the outcome could not only affect the guitar maker, but could also impact the entire music industry.
Representative Jim Cooper's office said he has talked to the White House and the Department of Justice about the raid. He believes the law is too broad, and hopes to introduce legislation to change that.
While in Washington as Congressman Marsha Blackburn's guest for President Obama's jobs speech, Juszkiewicz said he received a lot of Congressional support. He learned a subcommittee may even hold hearings about the raid.