Bedell Guitars may have seen the forest for the trees.
At least that’s one way of framing the Oregon-based guitar company’s recent acquisition of 3,000 sets of Brazilian rosewood, the dazzling wood favored by luthiers the world over.
Because if that prized species wasn’t hard enough to come by already—well, it may soon be getting even harder.
Found only in east Brazil, that hardy rosewood has, for centuries, been the lumber of choice for luthiers rapt by its tonal qualities, durability, and striking reddish-brown color.
But good ol’ Dalbergia nigra has been increasingly difficult to obtain since it was declared an endangered species in 1972. And when the tree came under even stricter protections by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)—the international treaty which regulates the trade of threatened plants and animals—it became known by instrument makers as the “holy grail of tonewoods.”
Since 1992, when CITES tightened its Brazilian rosewood protections, it has been, for the most part, illegal to carry the wood across international borders without federally approved permits. And the Obama Administration announced earlier this year that, beginning June 26, U.S. Fish & Wildlife will further tighten its oversight of CITES regulations.
Which made it all the more timely that Bedell went on its international Brazilian rosewood spending spree.
And not only did Bedell’s shipment cross borders, it hopped the Atlantic Ocean—all that primo guitar-building wood came via Spain.
As founder Tom Bedell explained to industry trade publication Musical Merchandise Review, the deal was made possible because the Spanish government authorizes the sale and export of Brazilian rosewood if the supply was legally brought into the country prior to the CITES treaty.
The Bedell stock came to Spain about 50 years ago, Tom Bedell said.
Bedell Guitars now claims to possess the “largest legal collection of Brazilian rosewood in the world.”
What’s more, explained Bedell, the deal makes him one of the few luthiers who can export his Brazilian rosewood instruments back to Europe—since, under European Union rules, only Brazilian rosewood that was in Europe prior to CITES can be shipped back to the continent.
Yes, Bedell may have seen the forest for the trees—and now it may reap quite a harvest on the acoustic guitar market.