Newsletter Stories

Saturday, 01 March 2003
Gibson USA is In Tune with FSC

At the recent FSC-U.S. Board of Directors meeting held in Nashville, TN, the Board had the unique opportunity of touring the Gibson USA factory and speaking with the Gibson staff regarding their inspiring company commitment to FSC.

Gibson, which received its Chain of Custody certification in 2001 from the SmartWood program of the Rainforest Alliance, has created a new, full-size Les Paul guitar (by far their most popular model) as part of its ongoing Les Paul Exotics guitar series. The guitar has a muir wood top and a mahogany back, and the fingerboard is made of preciosa. On the neck of the guitar, Gibson is printing a newly designed “floating leaf" and is now using this as its official logo for the SmartWood series. The new guitar reaffirms Gibson’s commitment to producing quality instruments that utilize only FSC-certified wood.

Henry Juszkiewicz, chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar Corp., who is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Rainforest Alliance, was behind the decision to receive FSC certification. He states that, “although the eye-catching Smartwood Exotics have made a favorable splash in the marketplace and have heightened awareness of the need for sustainable forestry management, our long-term goal is not just to promote certified-wood guitars as something special. In fact, it is just the opposite—to bring our industry to a point where certified-wood guitars are nothing special at all, where the use of certified wood is standard procedure."

To that end, Gibson has made great strides. Although the Les Paul SmartWood model is the only model to make use of 100% certified wood, 40% of all units manufactured at Gibson USA contain some certified wood. Currently, all maple (except for highly figured stock) purchased by Gibson USA, one of their most common species used, is FSC-certified. They also purchase as much certified mahogany, their other most common species, as they can find in the sizes they require. Juszkiewicz maintains that, “our most important work goes on behind the doors of our manufacturing facilities. There, our goal is to make all of our guitars from certified wood."

To reach this goal, Gibson is always willing to look for substitute species that will still maintain the quality of the product, but are easier to purchase as FSC-certified. For example, the use of muir wood in the Les Paul SmartWood model was suggested as a substitute to reduce the amount of mahogany needed to produce the guitar. Other species for which Gibson is looking for suitable replacements are rosewood and ebony, which are used for fingerboards on many Gibson models.

Gibson USA, the largest division of Gibson Guitar Corp., is the home of Gibson’s electric solid body guitars, including the Les Paul, SG, Firebird and Chet Atkins models, and is housed in Gibson’s original Nashville factory, built in 1974. To find out more about Gibson,