CITES Information

More and more species of animals and plants are nowadays listed as Endangered Species. In October, all kinds of rosewood were placed on the Appendix II of CITES in one fell sweep.
What are the implications for guitar and bass players? What do you need to know, and what do you need to do?
What can Rikkers Guitars do for you as a musician?

Here we attempt to answer some questions.

(please be aware that these are very complicated matters and this is in no way legal advice…)


What is CITES anyway?

CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)
….is basically a long list of species on which the authorities are globally agreed on that deserve protection, and, if so, to what extent. In Annex I such things as elephant ivory, turtle shield and Brazilian Rosewood is listed and therefore heavily protected against illegal trade.


Why have all rosewoods landed on CITES??

One third of all traded species in both volume and monetary value today is composed of rosewood trees (f.i. Dalbergia Latifolia, East Indian Rosewood). China imported in the 2nd half of 2016 an average of 350 logs per hour. Yes, per hour. (Source: John Thomas,

The rosewood forests are looted in South East Asia Big Time and there is only one way to do anything about it: regulate trade.

It’s been the buzz of luthiers worldwide the latest weeks: all kinds of rosewood and bubinga are protected by CITES as of January 2, 2017. Rightly so. Brazilian Rosewood (Dalbergia Nigra) has been on Appendix I for years and years now, and is the most sought after and therefore probably one of the most valuable woods in the world. Indian rosewood is often very difficult to distinguish from Brazilian, even by experts, let alone by customs officials. So all rosewoods need to be protected as a species in its whole.

From January 2, 2017, anyone who wants to export logs, planks or instruments with rosewood parts on them, needs to be able to show that it comes from legal source.


What does this mean for the average (bass-) player?

We estimate over 60% of ALL guitars and basses in the world contain some species of rosewood, usually Indian Rosewood (Dalbergia Latifolia) for the fingerboard.

Since you’re reading this, chances are that you have a (bass) guitar at home, and chance is that it’s got a rosewood fingerboard on it. Take a look at the fingerboard: is it dark? Than it’s probably rosewood..

Have you had your axe for years and only want to play it? Keep on playing, you don’t have to do anything. Do you want to buy or sell an instrument in the EU? Then, again, you’re fine. Go ahead. Keep the receipt, though!

But ….do you need to bring your guitar outside the EU for a gig, a tour or a move? Do you want to sell your instrument to someone outside the EU?

Then pay attention to the following:


Musician or Instrument Certificate

Anyone who wants to bring a guitar outside the EU would be well advised to check the website of their government, for instance the Dutch: Music certificate request.

The application costs € 45, -. You must demonstrate in your application that you legally obtained your (bass-) guitar (you’ve got a receipt, don’t ya?). You must also provide information about the instrument, as the name of the manufacturer, year of manufacture, serial number, and possibly photos. It may take some time before the application is processed, so if you can you want to be quick about it. It will soon get very, very busy …


Rikkers (bass-)guitars with Rosewood

At Rikkers Guitars we have used mostly ebony and maple fingerboards, but in the hundreds of Rikkers instruments we’ve made we think there are a lot who are equipped with a rosewood fingerboard.

If you are the owner of a Rikkers instrument (including second hand) with a rosewood fingerboard and need proof of purchase if you lost their receipt you can contact us.
You can request a complimentary Instrument Report. Please mail us some photos and a description with some history and we’ll make sure you get the proof you need to make your request…