Gibson Guitar CEO Henry Juszkiewicz says wood supplies "disappearing quickly"

Henry Juszkiewicz and a young guitar hero-in-training at the Firebird X launch in NYC, October 2010
Henry Juszkiewicz and a young guitar hero-in-training at the Firebird X launch in NYC, October 2010

Gibson head honcho Henry Juszkiewicz has opened up about his fears for the future of guitar manufacture as we know it.

In a story in the UK's Independent newspaper entitled Playing for time: Wood shortages threaten world's best guitars, Juszkiewicz was quoted as stating that, "The true wood guitar is disappearing quickly. We need to act now because it just won't be around in 10 years."

The story also states that many of Madagascar's 47 types of rosewood and more than 100 ebony species are threatened with extinction.

Although musical instrument manufacture accounts for only a tiny percentage of annual timber harvests in comparison to wood used for furniture and industrial purposes, some of the most highly-prized tonewoods that used to be commonplace in guitar construction are now scarce or endangered.

Brazilian rosewood, for example, was Gibson's fretboard material of choice for decades, but since it was CITES-listed in 1992, trade in anything other than old-growth material harvested pre-1992 (or obtained from stumps left over from trees felled before the ban) is illegal.


2009 infamously saw the Gibson factory in Nashville raided by the FBI as part of an investigation into the source of its materials, but to date, no charges have been brought. June 2011 saw the US Department Of Justice file a civil case relating to the company's alleged sourcing of ebony from Madagascar, where the harvest and export of unfinished ebony is prohibited.

According to The Independent, Gibson is currently working with Greenpeace to source sustainable alternatives. Recent product launches such as the 2011 Melody Maker series have seen the company utilise more eco-friendly but less traditional materials such as torrefied maple.

Chris Vinnicombe worked with us here on the MusicRadar team from the site's initial launch way back in 2007, and also contributed to Guitarist magazine as Features Editor until 2014, as well as Total Guitar magazine, amongst others. These days he can be found at Gibson Guitars, where he is editor-in-chief.