Eye candy desde Brasil (Full Version)

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Andy Culpepper -> Eye candy desde Brasil (Sep. 25 2023 21:45:05)

I was offered a deal that I couldn't pass up on a collection of old growth pre-ban Brazilian Rosewood. It's all great but some is on an insane level. Obviously a few sets have small voids or cracks that need to be split, rejoined and reinforced, but this stuff rings amazingly. I'm offering it as an upgrade on custom orders but not selling any right now.

I made a gallery here on my website: http://www.andyculpepper.com/brazilian-rosewood

constructordeguitarras -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Sep. 26 2023 12:16:30)

Congratulations, Andy. Beautiful stuff. As I look at the pictures I imagine the scent of the wood as it's worked.

orsonw -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Sep. 26 2023 20:03:07)

Looks beautiful. Look forward to a future post when you've made a guitar with a set, though I suppose it will be a classical.

silddx -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Sep. 26 2023 21:55:11)

Gorgeous. Love the look of 27 and 22 especially.

Richard Jernigan -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Sep. 27 2023 0:57:02)


Some of those sets are of a quality I haven't seen in thirty years--except for a handful sets Abel Garcia had in 2006.



JasonM -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Sep. 27 2023 3:12:37)

Man that sure is gonna make a lot of headstock veneers! And bridge hole plugs too!

Andy Culpepper -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Sep. 27 2023 3:52:08)

Haha thanks guys. I will probably rip most of it into stickers to stack my Cypress.
Seriously though, it looks like one set is spoken for already for a negra. Coming some time next year.
It's great stuff -- I'm probably not charging enough.

Ricardo -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Sep. 27 2023 16:14:16)

I have been waiting for this type of thing to occur for years so I can ask some tough questions.

1. How do you know this is REAL Brazilian and not some other similar species of tree, which has been passed off as BRW in the past?
2. How is this even legal? There is official paper work on this that proves the legal right to use it?
3. How do you draw up paperwork so that after making a guitar with it, the person traveling can avoid confiscation at customs, if bad luck got you an inspector that was suspicious?

ernandez R -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Sep. 27 2023 21:25:58)

Good questions all, the laws have changed some last few years and there is the moral question.

But. May I ask you to start the question on another thread so we can use this one for Andy’s wood and builds etc: luthiery.



Andy Culpepper -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Sep. 28 2023 1:45:11)

Those are great questions Ricardo, I don't mind answering here...

So with regards to the authenticity. I have the original export permit from Brazil. I got the sets from a longtime friend who I trust and I believe in the chain of custody. Beyond that, any luthier's eyes, ears and nose can verify that this is dalbergia nigra. It has a very distinctive smell (it was originally harvested for perfume after all). Certain grain patterns, the glassy taptone, it all adds up to a high degree of certainty.

Now with regards to travelling with a BRW guitar, 99% of the time I'm sure no one will ever ask you anything. If you're risk averse though, it's a better idea to just not travel internationally with a BRW guitar, because as you mentioned there is always the chance someone gets suspicious. Maybe in half of the one percent scenarios having a copy of the permit would help, and maybe in the other half it wouldn't, I really don't know. But if you don't want the risk I would just leave it at home.

Shipping or travelling with the guitar inside the US should be perfectly fine. If I send one overseas it gets a little more complicated with obtaining permits, I've even had to do that in the past with Indian Rosewood before they changed the rules on it.

kitarist -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Sep. 28 2023 4:12:45)


If you're risk averse though, it's a better idea to just not travel internationally with a BRW guitar

I can add something to this.

For certainty, one can apply and obtain a 'Musical Instrument Certificate', which functions like a 'passport' for a guitar such as this (made from pre-convention BRW). In the USA, the process is now fully online, through a website.

You go to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at Traveling Across International Borders with Your Musical Instrument and read through, then go to 3-200-88 - Pre-Convention, Pre-Act, or Antique Musical Instruments Certificate to apply. In this case the proof that this is pre-convention BRW would be in demonstrating that the export/import certificate for the wood was dated before the date BRW became Appendix-I-listed (before 1992).

For now these guitar 'passports' are valid for a max of 3 years, but there is movement from CITES to lengthen the validity to 10 years.

Ricardo -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Sep. 28 2023 16:26:33)

Great info! (Both you guys) Even I think, due to the eye candy, this thread would be a good reference for the future when this topic comes up again (which it always does!).

Andy Culpepper -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Sep. 28 2023 17:32:44)

That is great info, thanks!

kitarist -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Sep. 28 2023 19:45:31)


this thread would be a good reference

OK, then I will add a bit more to explain why it is legal to sell some BRW even now, as well as what/where the rules are in general and why, with references. This assumes essentially zero knowledge of the subject matter. Sorry for the length.

CITES = Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species [of Wild Fauna and Flora] (full text here: https://cites.org/eng/disc/text.php )

Created in 1973, the principal aim is to address the fact that unrestricted international trade (export-import) is the main driver for over-harvesting/killing of various (wild) plants and animals to such an extent that it threatens them with extinction.

CITES was put together as an international agreement to address that by preventing/restricting import and export of these species, which presumably would remove the impetus for their over-harvesting/killing.

(This is implemented, in practice, at the national level for each signatory country; one can find the CITES authority for one's country by looking it up on the CITES website: https://cites.org/eng/parties/country-profiles/national-authorities ).

Domestic trade in these species is not restricted by CITES, presumably because it was not a big factor in what was driving the over-harvesting/killing problem. In fact, "Trade" is a defined word in CITES 'Article I: Definitions" to mean specifically "export, re-export, import and introduction from the sea".

BRW (Dalbergia Nigra) is listed in Appendix I - which is the list with the most restrictions for [international] trade. CITES Article III provides the general rules for App. I species ( https://cites.org/eng/disc/text.php#III ), which are that any international trade would have to be done with export and import permits; however, they can only be obtained (or are not needed) in some very limited circumstances as outlined in Article VII ( https://cites.org/eng/disc/text.php#VII ):

No import/export permits are needed, for example, in the case:

VII.1: when species are in transit while remaining in customs control;
VII.2: when species were acquired (harvested) before being included on the CITES list (as long as a certificate to that effect is issued by the relevant national authority);
VII.3: when species are personal or household effects;

and so on, a few other exemptions, like for specimens bred in captivity; for a non-commercial loan/exchange between scientists.

As a consequence, the only way BRW and guitars made out of it can still be moved between countries for the commercial purpose of trade is if it can be proved that the BRW was felled before it landed in App. I of CITES. When did this happen, exactly?

CITES's 8th meeting (called "CoP8" = CITES "Conference of the Parties, 8th meeting") was held Mar 2-13, 1992, in Kyoto, Japan. One of the proposals ( https://cites.org/eng/cop/08/prop/index.php ) adopted at that meeting was from Brazil, for including BRW in Appendix I (CoP8 Proposal 91 PDF). That 4-page proposal also provides biological and trade data, national protection status, and info on similar species, with references.

That Brazilian proposal (among others) was adopted by CoP8, valid from Jun 11, 1992 (Amendments to Appendices I and II adopted at CoP8 (pdf)).

Therefore, any BRW proved to have been harvested before Jun 11, 1992, would be 'pre-convention BRW' for which Article VII.2 exemption would apply - as long as a certificate to that effect is issued by the relevant national authority.

In practice, Andy above has the original export document which apparently is dated before Jun 11, 1992, thus proving that the BRW must have been harvested before that date. This would be the main evidence likely sufficient to apply under Article VII.2 to the (in this case) US CITES authority for an official certificate to that effect. That certificate would then be the evidence needed for any buyer of guitars made from that BRW to apply and easily get a 'Musical Instrument Certificate' for each guitar. Alternatively, things can be left at the 'export permit' level, which will be needed (by guitar seller) later for any guitar to demonstrate pre-convention status for its sale abroad, and for getting a musical instrument certificate for later movement (by guitar buyer).

Finally, one thing to add regarding the Musical Instrument Certificate is that CITES clarified recently that using such an instrument for paid performances (travelling musician) does not affect the granting of that certificate - it is not a violation of CITES to move such an instrument between countries for the purposes of paid work. This makes sense because CITES's 'commercial purposes' restriction is specifically about the [international] trade of the endangered species [and products made from it] itself. Making money from playing a BRW guitar abroad is not an act of trading BRW.

Richard Jernigan -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Sep. 28 2023 19:52:05)

Not long after I retired at the end of 2009 I traveled to Vancouver and Victoria, Canada to buy some Brazilian rosewood furniture. The furniture was made in Denmark in the 1950s-60s. It was the Scandinavians who used up all the Brazilian rosewood, not the guitar makers.

The heirs of the original purchsers are selling off mid-century Modern. I'm as old as their parents, and nostalgic.

Before paying I asked the dealer how he proposed to export the furniture to the USA. I was thinking about the CITES rules, and the lack of certification for the merchandise.

The dealer replied that they waited until they accumulated a van load to be exported, loaded it up, and drove it to Bremerton, Washington, where they turned it over to U.S. shipping companies.

"What about U.S. Customs?" I asked. The dealer said that Customs had confiscated a van load of stuff, asserting it was Dalbergia Nigra. The dealer hired a professor from a Vancouver university and contested the confiscation. Things went back and forth for a while, until U.S. Customs finally admitted they were unable to prove it was Dalbergia Nigra. Microscopic cell photos of other species resembled Dalbergia too closely.

After that, U.S. Customs had ignored subsequent van loads.

The stuff I bought arrived in Texas unmolested.

The dealer usually had a substantial stock of used Scandinavian rosewood furniture, had sigificant sales in the USA, and could afford to fight U.S. Customs. A lone guitar maker or traveling musician would likely be in a different position.


Andy Culpepper -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Sep. 28 2023 23:37:27)

Since we are collecting information here, I found this very informative. Got permission from my anonymous friend (the BRW Santa Claus) to copy and paste:

"As background — Firstly, any Brazilian being shipped overseas needs 2 cites permits (export and import with the receiving country) regardless of when it was harvested. The pre 1992 thing just means that if you can prove it was harvested before then, they’ll likely issue you a permit based off that information—but you still need to apply for the permits regardless. That’s a mistake a lot of people make and think they can ship Brazilian with a paper saying “this was harvested before 1992”—the only reason that ever works is because nobody checks it. If it was actually scrutinized it could get confiscated temporarily depending on the degree to which the country has adopted cites.

Cites is a non binding international gathering of various people who put out guidelines and propose legislature that countries can adopt… the catch being those guidelines and “laws” mean absolutely nothing unless a country acts to adopt that into their local regulations. So there is a wide range of following depending on the country. The ones you apparently have to lookout for are most of the wealthier European nations; Germany, England, Spain, France Italy and sweeden/Denmark are going to be the most voracious at following the guidelines. America to some degree but not as much. To clarify, you technically do need a cites export permit from the FWS for Brazilian in our country.

So yes, you can ship a guitar that you make with that Brazilian and you would include in the cites application for FWS the original cites permit plus a chain of custody letter for what happened after the permit or something similar… that should be sufficient documentation, because the fact that it got a permit basically covers the chain of custody before that time. Don’t take this as iron clad law but that would be my reasoning as to what would constitute a successful application. You would also need to do an import permit for the country you’re shipping to but the substantiating evidence would be the same.

That’s how you would ship a Brazilian guitar internationally without any worry that it might get confiscated. Most luthiers I know, unfortunately, break the law and include some silly paper that only draws more attention to the Brazilian, or lie about it and say it’s Honduran or something. I personally wouldn’t risk it as it’s very possible to get the permits if you just give yourself 3-6 months lead up. The reason more guitars don’t get confiscated is simply because they’re generally not looking for cities 1 items at customs — more like bombs, drugs and humans — but many countries are pretty spun up and it could be a bad day if you get an agent who knows their stuff and furthermore gets ticked off that you’re lying etc.

As far as when it was actually harvested, it’s unlikely that those trees were cut anytime after the 70’s. They wouldn’t have gotten a permit if the trees had just been cut down. But I don’t have access to that documentation besides the permit itself, nor would we be able to. By the 70’s, most Brazilian was becoming scarce and the quality of most of those sets is more akin to what they were harvesting at the turn of the century. I’ve heard from some that even by the early 1900’s it was becoming very scarce because of its use in the furniture industry."

estebanana -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Oct. 6 2023 4:33:28)

If it were me I’d just sit on it and sell it to retire. In 25 more years BR will not be wood anymore, it will be a form of currency and worth much more than it is now. It likely more valuable if it’s Not used to build guitars, but left as a potential material which serves as a form of material that has value as a currency. This is how art works now, art isn’t art anymore ( at the highest levels of the art marketplace) Art is now a place marker for money, or an outright currency on its own. Eventually vintage guitars will follow and become worth more until they are not valued as cultural objects as we guitarists and guitar makers see them as. They will be recognized for their rarity as objects of pure value divorced from the cultural significance we place on them.

The next logical extension of this transformation into objects as currency will be for the highest grade/ rarest materials of instruments to be like money. Nobody will want to actually build with certain sets of BR, but hold them like gold bars. The potential to create a guitar with certain sets will be of value to people who are collectors who have no intention of having guitars built, but recognize the potential to have a guitar made from that set has a higher value than a guitar made with the same wood.

Wait for it, it will be appalling. 😂

estebanana -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Oct. 6 2023 5:00:53)

I moved this to a new topic


kitarist -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Oct. 6 2023 6:45:41)




Ricardo -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Oct. 6 2023 12:16:56)


Eventually the inevitable will happen, a Les Paul will fetch tens upon tens of millions of dollars at auction and the whole guitar market will turn inside out.

This has already sort of happened with celebrity instruments. The rich remain somewhat insulated so they can enjoy getting ripped off and rip off others. Meanwhile, there is real art.

estebanana -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Oct. 6 2023 12:59:28)




Eventually the inevitable will happen, a Les Paul will fetch tens upon tens of millions of dollars at auction and the whole guitar market will turn inside out.

This has already sort of happened with celebrity instruments. The rich remain somewhat insulated so they can enjoy getting ripped off and rip off others. Meanwhile, there is real art.

True, but I think it’s going to break into oligarch level collecting at much advanced level of complexity and value.

Mark2 -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Oct. 6 2023 16:20:04)

Well on the way IMO......


150.00 new but somehow worth close to 100k. I'd rather have a new one for 500.00

I don't buy into the supposed "Mojo" of these old gibsons and Fenders.

RobF -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Oct. 6 2023 21:20:31)



Well on the way IMO......


150.00 new but somehow worth close to 100k. I'd rather have a new one for 500.00

I don't buy into the supposed "Mojo" of these old gibsons and Fenders.

Maybe because it looks new old stock (probably because it’s a lefty and never sold) but still…seems like a crazy high price. I had one from around that vintage when I was young, but I couldn’t get it to sound like Eric Clapton’s Les Paul and plus it was really beat up (exactly the way people like ‘em these days) so I moved it on for the same $125 I paid for it. I kick myself now, of course.

*edited to remove a fairly lengthy blurb about a friend’s ‘63 Strat so not to step too heavily on the thread. Part of Mark’s following response was informed by that (to provide context as to why he mentions his Strats). Sorry about that Andy, although I’m now wondering if I should have done that as it kind of leaves Mark hanging, lol.

Mark2 -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Oct. 6 2023 22:47:26)

I had two lefty strats- a '75 which I still have and a '65. I toured with both of them in the 80's. The '75 is the better guitar and it's maybe worth 5k while the '65 is likely worth closer to 40k. I know the guy who has the '65, which I sold to someone else back in the day for $1,200.00

If I still owned it I don't think I'd sell it but I sure wouldn't part with 40k for it.

The guy who owns it now isn't even a guitarist. He's a keyboard player who buys and sells rare left handed guitars.

I also have a Mexican strat that I bought used for 200. It's in the same ballpark as the others as far as sound and playability. By the time you put them through an amp and put your fingers on them, they aren't that far apart.

i recently saw a '65 lefty gibson 175 go for 15k. Great value as an investment-it's almost impossible to find a lefty 175.

Andy Culpepper -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Oct. 7 2023 4:17:26)

That's a good point, Stephen...the luthier in me just wants to build awesome guitars but it's probably wise to reserve at least 10 sets or so. Maybe when the power grid goes down I can use it to trade for ammunition :D

I do want to make guitars out of most of it though because I don't like the hoarding mentality and I want to explore what it has to offer tone-wise. I'm working with one of the really nice fine, straight-grained sets now (#4)...there's nothing like it that I've seen on the market and I honestly don't feel worthy. It feels like it should be going on a $50,000 instrument for how it rings, not one of mine...but it is just wood at the end of the day. I can't wait to hear the finished result.

ernandez R -> RE: Eye candy desde Brasil (Oct. 18 2023 23:45:20)

Come on Andy, any teasers on your build with the #4 set? Guessing you’ve joined the back by now.


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