View Full Version : Bob Taylor talks Lacey...

10-08-2011, 03:13 PM
Thought this may be of interest...


10-08-2011, 05:57 PM
Definitely of interest, and a refreshing departure from the government-bashing that this issue often evokes. Its great to see a businessman take the long view instead of going for the quick profit.

Here's the gist of what Bob Taylor had to say:

we are going to run out of our favored species of woods very soon, if, as a first world community, we do not work diligently to preserve these species!


The time for action is now, whether we like it or not. Lacey addresses this by simply making it a law, that as a US business or citizen we must import only wood that was obtained legally in its country of origin.


here’s how Lacey has affected the way we do business at Taylor Guitars. It’s very simple. We now investigate the sources of our wood, and we ensure to the best of our ability that the wood was taken legally. We fill out the paperwork required and we present our business, as an open book. The cost isn’t so much for us. It’s not an unbearable added burden, and we’re happy to do the extra administrative work.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-08-2011, 06:40 PM
I love Taylor Guitars and Bob is a master with PR. The big guys can afford to talk like this. They are buying materials directly from the source. I'm buying materials 12th handed and can't prove a thing.

Liam Ryan
10-09-2011, 01:01 AM
And I'm building one at a time in my backyard workshop, trying to educate individual US based buyers on how to import one of my instruments. Those individuals don't have quite as much access to lawyers, commerce experts, shipping company executives or govt dept representitives as Bob Taylor.

I build 10 ukes a year in my spare time. To put the same regulation on my clients as on taylor guitars is rediculous.

Pete Howlett
10-09-2011, 03:08 AM
It's taken them long enough hasn't it? And what Bob doesn't recognise is that with his purchasing power he can determine the chain of custody. Good for Taylor but bad for the rest of us because being able to buy the traditional woods from traditional sources maintains the expectation in the instrument buying community of seeing mahogany/cedar in necks and other components. Doing deals is the solution to HIS problem that creates a problem for the small builder. What would be a great idea is if China stopped sucking up every living and dead thing into its manufacturing base and started to act more responsibly regarding illegal imports of Madagascan rosewood, Russian pine etc. If Japan deveolped a better building material than wood for it's volcanically active country (they get their wood from North America - look out USA, you have your own disaster on your doorstep) It's not going to take effect unless there is a combined effort and here's a thing. If there was another fire in York Minster (a famous cathedral in the UK) there is not enough converted oak available in the UK to do the necessary refurbishment - no country, government is exempt. It's a world isssue and one small maker like Taylor (in world terms that is) despite how noble his actions isn't going to make a heap of difference unless we all move in unison.

10-12-2011, 10:13 AM
... Good for Taylor but bad for the rest of us because being able to buy the traditional woods from traditional sources maintains the expectation in the instrument buying community of seeing mahogany/cedar in necks and other components...

We've been working on this issue non-stop for the last few months, and we think we have finally come up with a simple, straightforward solution. We have pretty much settled on a new group of woods for our instruments that are not listed in CITES under any apendix at all. As such, we won't need any permits - just the Lacey Act Declaration form. No fees, and not difficult once you get through it the first time. Also, your completed Declaration and it's list of materials may serve your customer in the future should any issues arise with international travel.

I would suggest any small builder take this approach. First, it is not likely you would even be able to obtain the documents neccessary to import restricted materials into the U.S., and second, the time delays on both sides make it difficult, and the fees involved, while maybe not a deal breaker, will add to the cost of your instrument. What this will do, however, is put instruments in two different categories. As Pete mentioned, it will still be possible, and more importantly, practical, for large builders like Taylor to go through the full permit and formal entry process and continue to use most of the regulated woods. Small builders would be using other materials.

Personally, this does not bother me. I am finding it exciting to discover how many good materials are out there. Having been forced to look at it all again, I think we'll actually have a better product, both in terms of performance and aesthetics, than we were going to present using more traditional woods.

The "expectation of the instrument buying community" that Pete spoke of will be an interesting thing to watch. I'm sure it may hurt us with some people, but overall I don't think we should be overly concerned. People who go to small and custom builders in the first place are usually knowledgeable enough or have enough trust in the builder to begin with, that I don't think it will be so bad.

Bob Taylor is right when he says it will be a transition.

10-12-2011, 05:06 PM
Hey Dirk, I admire your ability to look on the bright side, but I am not nearly as optimistic. I can just see the advertising now; " You want the finest quality ebony or rosewood fretboards, buy from the big boys, all those others use cheap crap". I am all for protecting endangered species, my real job for 30 years was doing ambient air monitoring for the local air pollution control agency. The implementation of these laws however, seems to be all about running the small luthiers out of business.


Pete Howlett
10-12-2011, 09:29 PM
I don't think there is a conscious effort to drive us out of business but it looks like that it could possibly be the 'net effect'. Altrenative woods are fantastic - I am a big fan of our English cherry, have just found a source of alder and yet every enquiry I have, despite featuring these woods on my website is for curly koa or mahogany. My argument still stands. The big US builders and boutique makers must bring to the fore high end products that feature North American hardwoods exclusively in their manufacture - not some fudge presented as an apology or 'look, we are doing our bit for the climate lobby'. Much of this chest beating and contrition is useless unless there is a strategy to change the mind set of the buying public by making 'vintage reproduction' out of the reach of most people. It really does excercise me when Bob Taylor or Chris Martin pronounces what they are doing for the problem when in my opinion, thier individual solutions to it, achieved because of their enviable positions only make it harder for us small guys.

10-12-2011, 10:07 PM
This story is now being covered by the BBC in the UK ....http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15268169

Pete Howlett
10-12-2011, 10:36 PM
That was an excellent bit of reporting - shows the difference between the US and UK in style and presentation. More of a 'story' with the old rocker in Nashville lusting after his Gibbos...