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CITES - What every bass player should know

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Turnaround, Apr 24, 2014.


  1. Snaxster

    Snaxster

    Nov 29, 2008
    Jim Carr and Midak like this.
  2. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Spokane, Washington
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    The problem with the regulation isn't the regulation itself, it's compliance and enforcement. I don't have a problem with regulations, I have a problem with onerous burdens imposed by regulations. For musicians, this could easily be handled by having a standardized form, accepted by all relevant government agencies, that declare what woods (+ sourcing) are used in an instrument. Such a form would accompany every new instrument sold (even if the wood is ubiquitous as maple or alder) and would serve as the instrument's passport. Once manufacturers get in the habit of providing that information with instruments on a form that is universally accepted by government agencies, compliance with regulations will be a non-issue for musicians crossing borders.
     
  3. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    What about older instruments where it may not be possible to acquire the information needed (source, in particular)?

    I do agree that on all newly made instruments there could be such documentation supplied and kept with each instrument. But, if the instrument was purchased at, say, Guitar Center, there is a good likelihood that documentation will be missing come purchase time. ;)
     
    bassballs27 likes this.
  4. Rick Turner

    Rick Turner Commercial User

    Jul 14, 2004
    I design and build electric basses and pickups under the Turner, Renaissance, and Electroline brand names.
    You wish. ALL international movement of rosewood will be affected; it doesn't matter how old or new your instrument is. YES, you will need a "passport" for your insrument. Don't try to interpret these new regulations to fit your convenience unless you can afford to lose an instrument if you travel overseas with it. The horror stories will start in a few days.
     
  5. Rick Turner

    Rick Turner Commercial User

    Jul 14, 2004
    I design and build electric basses and pickups under the Turner, Renaissance, and Electroline brand names.
    If you try to travel with an older instrument and you don't have the necessary "passport", be ready to lose the instrument. Once again, you cannot interpret these treaties your way; this isn't up to you. You cannot apply your own logic to it. These regulations were made up by people who simply do not give a poopie about musicians. To those who wrote this stuff, it's legalese to protect rosewood, and to them, a rosewood guitar is no different from a gigantic ornately carved rosewood bed. Trees were cut to make it. You have to get out of bass player/guitar player mentality to come anywhere near understanding this stuff.
     
    EdwardofHuncote and FC Bass like this.
  6. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    I hear you, Rick! I don't plan on any international travel with instruments, not selling internationally. It is a sad day for anyone using or has used wood for products. I fully understand why this is in place, it is just a shame it affects anything made before these laws were enacted.

    I take it you are using only "safe" materials, these days.
     
  7. swood_de

    swood_de Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2003
    Delaware (USA)
    Exactly right! The CITES musician passport is a half-day PIA to get and costs $75, is valid for 3 years and it is proof that your instrument can travel internationally without violating CITES. Any musician who travels internationally is courting disaster unless he or she has one of these passports.

    CITES is enforced at first point of contact by customs inspectors, both here and abroad, who have virtually no training in how to identify the various wood species (and shell inlay materials) covered by the treaty. All you need is one hyper-vigilant customs inspector who thinks that he or she sees a prohibited item on your bass and you are in trouble. Your bass can and probably will be confiscated right then and there, and the burden and expense of proving that the bass does not contain any prohibited materials falls on you. I personally know of an instrument that was held by customs for 3 months in a CITES fight before it was eventually returned to its owner.

    More about CITES, courtesy of the American League of Orchestras... good news and bad news. It looks like there may soon be a CITES exemption for musical instruments that are traveling with a musician for personal use. The bad news is that sales of instruments containing any type of rosewood will now require a permit (and theinternational sale of instruments containing Brazilian rosewood will remain prohibited. Have a look:

    Relief as Rosewood Protections Increase
    An original proposal related to the rosewood frequently used in crafting musical instruments would have subjected significantly more musicians to the burdensome travel permit requirements. Entering into the negotiations, Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala, and Kenya requested listing all species of rosewood (the scientific name of the genus is dalbergia) under Appendix II of the treaty, requiring permits for transportation of any rosewood items across borders without exceptions. While musical instruments that contain Brazilian rosewood already require CITES permits under the treaty’s highest Appendix I level of protection and will continue to do so, very many stringed instruments that contain Indian rosewood tuning pegs and tail pieces have not been subject to CITES permit rules. As the underlying threat to rosewood species is driven by a demand for large luxury furniture items, the music community successfully appealed to the CITES Parties to add an exemption for the small quantity of rosewood found in musical instruments so that permits would not be required when instruments are merely transported across borders for performances and personal use. Sales of these items across borders, on the other hand, will now require permits.

    The process of crafting the non-commercial exemption for musical instruments was a very complicated one, and up to the very last moment of deliberations it was unclear whether a real solution had been found. On the closing day of the CITES decision-making process, the U.S. delegation, led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, took the highly visible and essential step of intervening during the proceedings to successfully obtain a clarification so that musicians traveling back and forth from their home countries with their instruments will find relief under the new rules. We are most grateful for this key leadership by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which is consistent with the recent steps taken by the Obama Administration to find solutions for musicians under new domestic ivory rules.

    The whole article is here.
    CITES Treaty Negotiations Include Musical Instrument Policies - League of American Orchestras
     
    Jim Carr likes this.
  8. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Spokane, Washington
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    You're right, I overstated my case. Assuming user-friendly documentation that would be accepted by government agencies, and assuming the documentation doesn't get lost, CITES compliance would be a non-issue for people purchasing new instruments.
     
  9. smperry

    smperry Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Martin Keith Guitars
    Because this thread has information on legislation, not surprisingly, the discussion has veered towards political arguments several times.

    For now, I'm leaving this stickied but closed for discussion. If anyone wants to send me updates in CITES, feel free and maybe I'll add it here or reopen.
     
    Bunan, Jim Carr and peterpalmieri like this.
  10. smperry

    smperry Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Martin Keith Guitars
     
  11. smperry

    smperry Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Martin Keith Guitars
    I'm reopening this as a member sent me some information about his experience. Please don't post opinions about the policy or conjecture right now...but if you've had to deal with CITES directly, feel free to post in here.

    At some point, we'll figure out what to do with this thread longterm, but I think the information is useful, so reopening..
     
  12. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    I am currently working through the export process for my 1977 Travis Bean fretless bass, which has an Indian rosewood fingerboard. After waiting nearly three months for the $75 USF&W CITES pre-convention exemption certificate I was blindsided with a few nasty surprises:

    1) The bass must be inspected by a USF&W agent prior to export. In my case that means an 8 hour roundtrip drive to Seattle, but in many cases the distance might be much greater since there are a very limited amount of export/inspection portals.

    2) The Seattle agent was very cool and helpful, and mentioned that there has been a big learning curve on the US regulatory agencies' side as well as for aspiring exporters. He was then nice enough to ask if I also had the USDA PPQ Form 621 in hand, which is the Protected Plant Permit. I may or may not have done due diligence, but this was the first I had heard of this particular hoop. "Luckily" this one can be obtained online for a mere $70 and the current processing time is listed at only "up to 30 days." So I've just spent about another 4 hours getting that application done. Most of that was dealing with authentication issues on the USDA website, which in my case required a drive to the nearest USDA Farm Service office, about a half hour from here. Here's the link to get started on that process: USDA APHIS | Accessing ePermits

    3) And then once I eventually have both permits in hand and validated by the inspection agent the export shipment must go through one of the approved export portal cities (aka PPQ CITES Designated Port). I haven't figured out the mechanics of making that happen yet, but it doesn't appear that the FedEx hub city of Memphis is on that list, for example.

    I will update my experience as I continue to work through this process. So far my main takeaway would be seller beware...[​IMG]
     
  13. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Maybe this would be a good TB WIKI topic? I talked to a few luthier friends and most were blissfully unaware of their legal obligations these days.
     
    smperry likes this.
  14. swood_de

    swood_de Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2003
    Delaware (USA)
    Glad this the mods re-opened this thread as there is a need for information on CITES so that we can understand and comply with it. The bottom line is this: anybody who is trying to buy, sell or travel with a basinternationallu he needs to understand how CITES works.

    If your bass contains any quantity of any kind of rosewood, cocobolo or bubinga it is covered by CITES regardless of when it was made. If you try to ship or travel with such an instrument internationally with the proper permit (for sales) or musical instrument passport (if it's our bass and you are traveling with it) there is a real chance that the bass will be seized and impounded.

    Maybe, in the interests of civility and keeping this thread open, the mods can temporarily ban all opinions about whether or not CITES is a good or necessary idea limit this thread to facts about CITES and tips for compliance. I am about the last person to ever suggest that limiting speech is a good thing, but the history of this thread is that it quickly descends into a political debate. I am not denying the importance of the debate, but in this instance it gets in the way of exchanging the information we need to comply with this new reality.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017 at 8:24 AM
  15. markjazzbassist

    markjazzbassist Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    but i thought if you were performing with your instrument (say a european tour) there was no issue. anyone know if that's true?
     
  16. swood_de

    swood_de Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2003
    Delaware (USA)
    Sorry, but NOT true. If you are traveling with an instrument that you own and aren't trying to sell and you don't have a CITES Musical Instrument Passport with you the instrument can be seized.
    You MUST have the appropriate paperwork. There are NO exceptions.
    Look here for more info:
    https://americanorchestras.org/advo...s-material/protected-species-travel-tips.html

    Plus, the CITES Musical Instrument Passport is proof that your bass doesn't contain prohibited material. For instance, rosewood is covered by CITES. Pau Ferro is not. But, if some customs inspector decides that your pau ferro fingerboard is actually rosewood your instrument will be impounded

    Anybody who travels internationally with a bass who doesn't have a CITES Instrument Passport is courting disaster.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2017 at 8:29 PM
  17. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    So what this basically means is that, regardless of what kind of wood your bass is made from, the only safe way to go is to obtain the necessary permit (unless you have a bass with all blond wood - and even then who knows). I'm wondering how customs will handle basses with bodies covered in coloured lacquer. Does the fact that the woods on the CITES treaty are very rarely used for bass bodies make a difference?
     
  18. swood_de

    swood_de Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2003
    Delaware (USA)
    Jim Carr likes this.
  19. svtb15

    svtb15 Commercial User

    Mar 22, 2004
    Austin,TX - McKinney,TX - NY,NY, - Nashville,TN
    I play it all. Whatever works for the gig
    Easy fix.. this is what i do when i fly overseas now.. I fly with my Fender mexican Road Worn P bass with a maple neck and see thru SB finish. If they steal that one from me it's no big loss
    Sadly , I DON'T bring my alleva coppolo that have the Dalbergia Nigra stuff. much less any type of rosewood looking wood.. .... If they wish , Customs acts to seize things on a whim as explained in my previous post on the Fake leopard boots.. .. They can steal a Pau Ferro bass if they wish to. Work as you wish to get it back... Try locating it// Ha fun doing so
     
    BlueTalon likes this.
  20. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Update: much to my surprise, the Protected Plant Permit has already been issued. So clearly the online application process is worthwhile in this case. On to Seattle in a few days for the physical inspection, so hopefully I'm sensing light at the end of the tunnel.