Rosewood could return to low-cost guitars this year

(Image credit: Future)

On 2 January 2017, a new CITES law came into force, putting restrictions on how rosewood is traded across international borders, a move that had vast implications for low-cost guitar building - although its impact could soon become a thing of the past.

According to the Music Industries Association, a lobbying coalition - including guitar industry heavyweights Fender, Martin, PRS and Taylor - has put together a proposal to exempt rosewood instruments from the CITES regulatory control.

The proposal notes that musical instruments were “collateral damage” in the rosewood restrictions, which were aimed at stopping illegal logging in the furniture industry.

In order to drop the restrictions, the proposal requires ratification at a forthcoming CITES meeting in Sri Lanka in May this year.

Should it be passed, there could be considerable implications for some of the world’s biggest builders, namely Fender, which switched to pau ferro for the fingerboards on all its Mexican-made instruments back in May 2017.

Whether the guitar giant will switch back, of course, is another matter entirely, particularly after standardising its Deluxe line and launching the Player Series, which features pau ferro fingerboards across the range.

Higher-price builds across the guitar industry have seen a rise in the use of ebony and baked maple ’boards, so as to avoid CITES wrangles when shipping internationally, so again, the jury’s out on whether rosewood will be re-embraced following these changes.

We’ll keep you updated on developments as we have them.

For more info on how CITES has changed the future of rosewood in guitars, have a read of our in-depth feature on the subject.

Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as a decade-and-a-half performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.

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