Instrument Buyer's Guides

CITES are a governing environmental body that look after endangered wild fauna and flora. In 2017 they restricted the sales of Rosewood across international borders to crack down on illegally made furniture, which also affected guitarists.

This law was lifted on November 26 2019. Here's everything you need to know about how it changed the industry and the current laws.


As of November 26 2019, CITES laws on rosewood have been lifted. Travelling with this wood no longer requires a permit. It means you can buy, sell and move freely with guitars made of rosewood - even if it comprises over 10kg or 22lbs as stated by the previous ruling. Restrictions on the rarer Brazilian rosewood are still in place.

How did CITES laws affect guitarists?

A law was put in place on January 2 2017 by CITES to restrict trade of rosewood across borders. A lot of guitars up to this point were made using rosewood and it had a major impact on the guitar industry.


It did not apply to guitars (or other instruments) that were traded within the borders of one country, but any time an instrument with rosewood was sold internationally (or in our case outside of the EU) it required CITES certification. It also stretched beyond Rosewood and into members of the same genus of tree as well as three types of Bubinga.


The list of restricted woods list included:


  • All rosewood
  • Granadillo
  • African Blackwood
  • Cocobolo
  • Kingwood
  • Bubinga
  • Any other member of the Dalbergia family of woods


Manufacturers changed how they made and sold guitars that normally contain rosewood to evade the rule - mainly focusing on affordable guitar ranges. Popular alternatives still being manufactured today use ebony, maple and pau ferro.

Here’s what CITES say about the regulation:

"The success of CITES in supporting legal, sustainable timber trade and addressing illegal trade saw a further 300+ timber species, i.e. all Dalbergia rosewood and palisander species found across the world, being brought under CITES trade controls at CITES CoP17.


"Legal international trade in timber is worth hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Thanks to CITES trade regulations, CITES Management Authorities establish the veracity of the legal origins of rosewood and palisander species before they enter international trade, and CITES Scientific Authorities advise on the sustainable nature of the harvest and exports. Customs officials at border crossings across the globe will verify CITES permits for all such international shipments."

What does CITES mean for Guitarists?

As mentioned earlier, the CITES restrictions on rosewood have been lifted. In most cases, this will no longer affect how you purchase or travel with a guitar containing rosewood. However, some rarer forms of the dalbergia wood family such as Brazilian rosewood are still affected by the law. Many guitars containing Brazilian rosewood are high-end models made by the likes of PRS. If you wish to purchase a particular guitar using this wood, contact us for more information.