New CITES regulations for Rosewood

July 31, 2017, 6:08 AM · Hi everyone

i want to buy a set of Rosewood fitting for my Violin but unfortunately i wasn't able to find someone who accept and ship my order.
i got in touch with dealers from India-a handmade fittings producer in France and another one in the U.K

some didn't even response and some didn't accept.
i want to know how serious the restriction issues of rosewood are and is it me or the majority of string players through U.S and Europe are facing this problem while looking for Rosewood fitting for their instrument?

they said even if they accept and ship my order,there most be some kind of letter or certification beside of it.
1)can someone please explain how can i get such a thing and what is it about?(the assertion letter)

2)can you introduce a music shop or a dealer who have rosewood fittings available(U.S&Canada and EU to prefer)

3)should i say goodbye to Rosewood pegs?!


Replies (42)

July 31, 2017, 6:23 AM · Ask Meyerfittings, Tempel or ErgoVio. Never encountered problems.
July 31, 2017, 6:55 AM · thanks a lot Marc.
July 31, 2017, 8:45 AM · Hansell Fine Fittings in the UK will made you a stunning set of pegs in rosewood and will post anywhere. They are not cheap but are, in my opinion, simply the best.

Cheers Carlo

July 31, 2017, 9:01 AM · Hansell was missing in my list, you are right. Imo they are all very good.
July 31, 2017, 9:21 AM · thank you so much Carlo.
Edited: July 31, 2017, 2:39 PM · The restrictions on rosewood are pretty recently enacted, and you may find that suppliers who could provide rosewood fittings before can no longer do it. I've noticed that US suppliers are reducing their offerings, and I would guess that they are clearing out currently held inventory. You may indeed have to say goodbye to rosewood fittings.
July 31, 2017, 2:21 PM · Good Lord.... what will happen with all those guitars?! Rosewood has been used on so many of them that you wlll not be able to travel anymore.
Edited: July 31, 2017, 2:40 PM · Good Lord..... what will happen to this planet if we don't try to protect it? The trouble spot with rosewood is China, where they have a multi hundred years old tradition of producing elegant furniture for wealthy buyers from it. The nouveau riche Chinese class has created a huge modern demand for rosewood furniture, and the forests are being destroyed.
July 31, 2017, 2:32 PM · If you plan to ever take your instrument across borders, frankly I would say get rid of the rosewood. Otherwise, the safest way to do it would be to get a 'passport' for your instrument (it has a specific name I can't remember right now). Personal instruments are supposed to be covered by a 'Personal Effects Exemption', but without papers it is still at the discretion of the border authorities, and we've all heard how much these LooOoOoove musicians! ;P
Edited: July 31, 2017, 6:18 PM · Mark,

as we Canadians say ... you are preaching to the choir. I am obsessed with recycling, reusing and composting. Here in Toronto we have 3 types of garbage and it takes a lots of efforts and dedication to sort the garbage and carry it downstairs. Not to mention that I do not have a vehicle (although I could afford it) and use public transit whenever I can. I am talking about already produced guitars. With so much plastics in the oceans and global warming, rosewood in instrument making is probably the last of our worries.

Edited: July 31, 2017, 6:27 PM · AS a guitarist I was always slightly smug about my avoidance of Brazilian rosewood guitars and all the troubles inherent in travel with them....

Of course now it doesn't matter, as all my lovely instruments are East Indian Rosewood...

Anyway, on topic, if you want rosewood fittings shop within your own border. That's the only easy solution for now. You haven't said where you're located so we can't give you a recommendation. Share your country and someone from that area might be able to help.

July 31, 2017, 7:07 PM · I believe the new regulations apply to East India Rosewood as well.
July 31, 2017, 7:11 PM · That was the point! I simply delayed the inevitable troubles instead of managing to avoid them completely.

A bigger issue, perhaps, is that it also includes Blackwood. I feel bad for all the hardline traditionalist pipers.

July 31, 2017, 8:29 PM · "With so much plastics in the oceans and global warming, rosewood in instrument making is probably the last of our worries."
That is true, Rocky. Not to start an environmentalist debate here, but I think that doing something is better than doing nothing, in this case. Though I do think the solution is heavy-handed and it won't be long before we hear "border control took my $100k violin because of my rosewood pegs" on the news. :/
Edited: July 31, 2017, 8:42 PM · Fox,

That raises an interesting question. Would they seize the entire instrument, or just the fittings? I'd rather buy new fittings than a new instrument, and it takes literally seconds to remove them and relinquish them to customs if there is an issue... It's also cheap enough to just buy ebony or boxwood fittings if you know you're going to travel across borders. It costs what, $50-150 in most jurisdictions to fit new pegs?

What I foresee happening is someone who refuses to do that having their instrument somehow damaged or destroyed, and not just confiscated, trying to resist a customs agent.

Edited: July 31, 2017, 10:13 PM · Wow, I don not realize that there is any regulation on the Rosewood fittings. I just received two beautiful set of rosewood violin fittings and one set of rosewood viola fittings from China and wanting to install them myself but now I do know any more. They came from China at around $20 per set including tail piece, 4 pegs, chin rest and end pin. If any one still interested there are a few sellers on eBay, just search for violin or viola fittings and you will find a few eBayers selling them at affordable prices. I am in Canada so there is no issues for China to ship them to me. USA I am not sure.
July 31, 2017, 10:14 PM · Peace,

Canada is part of CITES. CBSA is just slow in implementing it. While you managed to get them through without paperwork today, that might not be the case a week, month, or year from now.

Hello from New Brunswick :)

July 31, 2017, 11:03 PM · You are correct, Michael, this raises lots of questions!
And yes, I have noticed that despite the restrictions, sellers on eBay are still offering rosewood from China like nothing's going on. So... OP, I guess grab some while you can? ;)
(keep in mind wood from China sold on eBay may not be what is advertised - 90% or more of their 'boxwood' is some other mystery wood)
August 1, 2017, 12:28 AM · Same with their "pernambuco".
Edited: August 1, 2017, 1:17 AM · thank you everyone for your inputs.

@Michael McGrath

dear Michael currently i'm in Iran but i will leave soon.i'm a B.MUS student in Turkey.the reason i asked for dealers in U.S and preferably EU is that music shops Here don't bother themselves with customer service like in western countries.for example you can't buy combination sets of strings for your Violin here.i remember i had to pay for 3 sets to use EP gold g&d and obligato A and Hill e.talking of fittings all they offer is Ebony and in some case a bad quality boxwood with a yellowish color.
there is only one shop who offers different type of fittings and the dealer told me that they Indian provider won't accept Rosewood orders anymore.

Fox Mitchell
i think i should grab some.but definitely not from e-bay.i had a bad experience!i'll look for that instrument passport you mentioned.thank you.

Lyndon Tailor
indeed.Honduras Rosewood is on the list.

Peace Lee
save them for now!

Mark Bouquet
you're completely right.but the main subject of the last CITES meeting in south Africa as you mentioned was about the furniture producers of China and Dalbergia Nigra traffickers if i remember correctly(specially in Brazil and Madagascar).i don't think the usage of rosewood fittings for string instruments for example on a typical day at Cremona or Mittenwald could pass the quantity of one of those traffickers cargo in China.(i could be completely wrong)there is a Persian quote that says skewer and Barbecue are burning this case i'm the skewer.

how are you Rocky?!
a famous website here (Guitar center) informed and warned costumers a few months back but i didn't pay serious attention to it.

Edited: August 1, 2017, 1:22 AM · Mohammad,

If you are going to be travelling I'd just save myself the trouble and go with ebony or boxwood. Sorry friend. The sad fact is that now that rosewood has been added to the list it just isn't worth the trouble. I suspect 'blond' guitars will become popular (as well as mahogany) - it is too much trouble to obtain the paperwork for the wood many times, making sales difficult.

There is supposed to be a personal effects exemption once you have already purchased the items (CITES applies mainly to sales), but I have heard it is spotty and frequently not used by border agents.

If you heart is truly set on rosewood fittings, I wish you the best of luck and I hope that someone comes by that knows the music scene in Iran/Turkey that can recommend you a brick and mortar store to visit!

P.S As you're studying in Turkey, do you have any microtonal jams you've recorded on violin? Love that stuff.

August 1, 2017, 1:42 AM · I think I need some papers...
Good to know, yet nobody bothered when I was traveling, but who knows.
Edited: August 1, 2017, 1:50 AM · Marc,

I suspect you're less likely to get nailed during travel than during export/import through mail. Unless you get pulled into secondary screening at a border or airport no one is looking that closely at your items. Then there is that personal effects exemption as well. This will mainly impact people who are buying/sellins, such as the op's case, instead of those travelling, but it is important to know that there *could* be issues, even if there might not be.

Customs agent: What's in the case?

You: Violin

Customs agent: Can I see?

You: Yes *opens case and shows them it is indeed a violin and not something else*

Customs agent: Have a nice day :)

Edit: This also only went into effect Jan. 2nd

August 1, 2017, 2:22 AM · I know it is unlikely to happen, but it would be a shame to loose my fittings xD
August 1, 2017, 3:45 AM · Michael

thank you for your input.due to intonation problems caused by practicing Persian scales i didn't play traditional music for many years.but i will go back to them and maybe i create a youtube channel and also share them here on my profile and would be glad to to hear your feedback ;)
P.S: Persian Makams(melody system) and Radifs are diffrent from Turkish and arabic Makams.


Edited: August 1, 2017, 5:58 AM · I'm as pro-environment as the next guy, but anything can go too far. As has been pointed out, furniture has made more of a dent in rosewood than violin fittings. And all of the paneling in the Metropolitan Opera is rosewood. Also how many musicians - let alone customs agents - are going to recognize the differences between and among different species of rosewood? At customs, they're more likely to want to err on the side of caution and confiscate anything that looks and quacks like rosewood - and confiscate if we're lucky. I've heard of whole bows that were DESTROYED by customs agents because they had ivory or tortoise frogs. Speaking of going too far, mastodon ivory is also on some forbidden lists! Mastodons are not endangered; they've been extinct for about 10,000 years!

Back to rosewood, I was very concerned when I heard about this, as my favorite violin has rosewood fittings. Then I heard that unless you have something like 10 kg of rosewood with you, you're OK. But I'm still worried. Now, according to the latest issue of the Strad, CITES is going after ebony! Makers are scrambling for alternative materials for fingerboards.

There's also an important thread current here about problems taking violins onto the cabins of planes. Yes, it doesn't happen all or even most of the time. But between these two issues it's like we have to play Russian Roulette every time we need to fly from one country to another.

Also, with some of these restrictions, such as with a pernambuco bow, you have to have some sort of certification that it was made from a log cut down as far back as - I don't remember the exact date; it could be as far back as 100 years ago! This is insanely unfair! If a new regulation goes into effect today, banning yet another material, it should only cover from this day forward, not from when it was cut down at a time when it wasn't illegal.

Edited: August 1, 2017, 11:05 AM · Violins do not use enough wood to cause any problems. There should be blanket exemptions in these regulations for low volume musical instruments like violins. What in the world are we going to do without ebony? Have to get our fingerboards replaced every decade when they wear out? Ridiculous.
Edited: August 1, 2017, 11:52 AM · Mr.Klayman I'm completely agree with you that (anything can go too far.)
When it comes to supporting trees and species and global warming governments are out of budget. They just held meetings and some empty suit just talk and talk.but when a poor Violinist travels; they open his/her case and destroy his bow?!
Does it help to save endangered wood species? Or as you said 1000 y.O extinct ones?
August 1, 2017, 11:51 AM · It's a very complicated problem. Unlike legends about legendary makers, violin/instrument makers don't go into the forest under moonlight and tap on trees and choose a single solitary tree that will give them the materials needed for years of instrument-making (you guys don't do that, right?). They buy from a supplier who bought from a supplier who bought from loggers that cut down ten-thousand trees that week! (I'm aware of the so-called Singing Woods of Paneveggio and its trees meticulously cared for and cut for instrument-making, but that is not the norm and doesn't cover exotic woods which are the problem)
What a lot of bow makers are doing in Brazil is getting together and trying to re-plant Pernambuco trees, to try and restore the plant that's been cut down near extinction. But it's a picky little plant that one, and doesn't grow easily outside its natural environment.
So just like paper makers often have entire forests they planted, dedicated to providing the raw material for their industry, instrument makers are gonna have to plant some exotic trees, and fight for the right to cut down those trees because in some countries just because you planted it doesn't mean you can cut it 20 years down the road.
What troubles me the most about all these regulations however, is when they confiscate stuff from individuals merely traveling with their instrument, say like a bow because of its ivory or tortoise shell. What good does that do? Those animals have been dead long ago! Confiscating/destroying those items won't bring the animals back! It will not teach a lesson about preserving nature to the musician who owned them. Unless a person has some specific type of lunacy, nobody buys a bow specifically because of its ivory tip! You're not an evil murderer who needs to be punished because your bow has ivory on it. Heck, most people don't even know the tips might be ivory!
Ok I'm done ranting.
August 1, 2017, 12:27 PM · The problem is always, that the law cannot be enforced where the trees are cut / the animals killed so the only way to prevent rich people to pay poor in countrys with weak laws is to take it from them.
Of course I agree that an ivory tip shouls not be a problem, but I also understand its a PITA to get that specific when it comes to laws.
I had a french bow with ivory frog that broke and had a bow maker fit it to a new one. I really like this bow, but I always leave it at home when it comes to traveling in other countries. Of course this anoys me.
August 1, 2017, 6:13 PM · Mohammad, I hope you go through with that youtube channel. I'll keep an eye out for a post on it in the future ;)
Edited: August 17, 2017, 2:16 AM · Having just seen this very important Discussion, I know a bit about the Ban on ivory & less re the Rosewood, But, this all started when over 40 Countries w/ goodwill intentions had an international Conference of each Country's Minister of the Interior about 3 + years ago. When last in London to give 'by invitation only' Violin/Chamber Music/Solo Violin Rep master classes, I was met by Ben Heppner, newly elected President of the British Society of (I believe) Violin & Bow Makers? Perhaps Raphael Klayman can help me here if I've misidentified the organisation ~ Anyway, Ben did come 'round to my Hotel & we discussed the growing insanity of the results of the international Conference above. Due to serious threats to extinction of our Large Elephant Friends, all these Minister!s of the Interior, "guided" by their Heads of Government's, voted to ban any violin or other string instrument Bow's with Ivory upon entering Heathrow in London or JFK International airport in NYC, from major capital American cities or European cultural capital cities going into or leaving from the USA, if carrying Violin or other string instrument cases with, Yes, Bow's! It was madness w/ completely ignorant security personnel at major airports following their uninformed Government Head's Orders to rigorously check all traveller's carrying Bow's with the tiniest bits of Ivory (many good to fine bow's contain ivory) and the document adopted was to confiscate bow's with ivory. Informed of horrid incidents where airport customs not only confiscated violin bow's (2 great Bow's in one case ~ a Tourte and Voirin) which were broken in half by (forgive me) 'goons' breaking irreplaceable bow's in half or in more pieces to toss them into the nearest garbage can, a well respected person, upon flying from London to NY's JFK, was literally interrogated for over 3 + hours & when asked if the priceless fiddle he was carrying was from a certain country, he calmly answered, "No!" Agents insisted his violin Had to be French because the Bow's they were after were "Only Italian due to the wood there!" Agreeing with the custom's agent to salvage 2 great Tourte's in the case he managed to make an agreement to not stay longer than a few days & report back when he was flying back to London & to show the 'Italian bow's' which had to be Italian, according to them. X never disclosed what was done w/ 2 Tourte bow's, but said he reported back in good-willed faith & departed JFK with a del Gesu in tact! They were convinced it was French & not Italian ~

I was asked by a storied violin house to use my voice with major musical Organisation's in the U.S., and did so. It evidently helped for President's of several major American musical institutions got involved & followed up on an original idea to go to the UN to speak, in person, with dozens of foreign Minister's of the Interior from their respective countries ... It did improve & help a somewhat lifted Ban on ivory & 'Italian' Bow's, & only the other day I was informed of a relaxation of essentially going after musician's travelling abroad with tiny bits of ivory in their bow's as it has been determined that musicians are Not killing Elephant's to steal their Tusk's to use for ivory in string instrument bow's, but the poacher's/illegal trafficker's who have been doing this for at least 150 years ~ Lest anyone breathe easy, Beware when travelling to London's Heathrow, just in case, & do definitely get a CITES certificate well in advance of international foreign travel ...

To be truly safe, it seems smart to avoid having rosewood pegs for now & I know this hurts, but better to use less attractive pegs abroad than have an incident which can traumatise an innocent musician intent on performing as well as possible in a major foreign musical capital city ~ especially if it is a major recital or soloist w/major orchestra debut ... Hopefully, this Nightmare will recede into the Darker pages of utterly misinformed yet well intentioned folks who were once on the hunt for innocent musicians who would never go to Africa to harm less kill a very Large Elephant Friend ... How hurtful to
even think of such a wicked Act ~ They are our Large Friend's ...

Thank you to All for such interesting and witty replies ~ I had a wonderful Pro musician friend who always said, "Musicians are the smartest people on Earth; Never forget this ~ "Mr. K. was Right!!!

Musically yours from afar ~

August 17, 2017, 5:17 AM · I wish I could live up to Elizabeth's confidence in me! (I will be coming out with a humorous blog soon that will either enhance my reputation as a humorist - or send me to the nut house!)

Anyway, I'm not sure of the organization but as I pointed out previously it appears that even mammoth ivory is now forbidden. Mammoth! Those creatures went extinct thousands of years ago. They're not coming back no matter what we do (- unless some mad scientist, inspired by Jurassic Park...)

Now they're setting their sites on ebony, too! There needs to be more push back and less knuckling under.

August 17, 2017, 11:38 AM · "They're not coming back no matter what we do (- unless some mad scientist, inspired by Jurassic Park...)"

Actually they are trying! They just haven't got a hold of enough intact DNA yet!

August 18, 2017, 4:31 AM · And just when I thought it was safe to go back out to play in my back yard!
August 19, 2017, 4:25 AM · Be careful switching pegs to ebony. That will the next wood banned. To be truly safe fit soulless plastic pegs, or take up the saxophone...

Cheers Carlo

August 19, 2017, 5:01 AM · So far they haven't targeted boxwood - but that could be next as well.
August 19, 2017, 12:52 PM · Boxwood is not endangered in any way! But of course you have to get real boxwood. An alarming amount of what's sold as 'boxwood' is just some other mystery wood.
August 21, 2017, 1:22 AM · I absolutely adore Massaranduba, bullet wood from Brazil. Beautiful and durable.
August 21, 2017, 1:26 AM · Lol hi I'm in France I'll look around :)
August 21, 2017, 1:34 AM · Bach. I found pernambuco, maple and snake wood fitting sowey
August 22, 2017, 2:57 AM · @Michael McGrath African Blackwood being added to CITES has affected quite a few pipers, a lot of us already had issues due to older pipes usually having Ivory mounts, but now even modern pipes are possibly going to be a problem.

I know a lot of pipers have a travelling set now for when they go to things like the Worlds in Glasgow..

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