Mahogany guitar shipping problem.

Ken Kaneki

New Member
Jan 5, 2024
Hi guys I bought my lovely PRS SE 245 guitar in China (from an official dealer) three years ago. I moved to Japan then and brought the guitar with me as a part of my check-in luggage. Now I need to send it abroad. So I went to “Japan Post” but it turned out shipping my guitar abroad over the post service might be impossible. The thing is the guitar is made of mahogany, and, according to CITES multilateral treaty, there’s a kind of mahogany prohibited from shipping. There are three kinds of mahogany (mentioned by “Japan Post”): swietenia humilis, swietenia macrophylla, and swietenia mahagoni. The first one can’t be shipped. So if I want to send the guitar abroad over “Japan post”, I need to prove it’s not that kind of mahogany, and I obviously have no idea how to do that. Please, can anybody shed some light on it? Thank you.
Well, I would say PRS would never bother with a CITES-listed wood on an SE. That kind of wood might crop up on a Private Stock. So right away I would say you are perfectly safe.

Secondly, the swietenia humilis trees are much smaller than the other species of Mahogany - so that makes the wood even less practical for guitars. The swietenia mahagoni wood is hard to source too, so unlikely on an SE.

Thirdly, many woods called "mahogany" are none of those species. But I would bet that the mahogany on your SE is swietenia macrophylla.

Oh, forgot to add: PRS will not issue any kind of certification regarding the wood used, so if that is what Japan Post needs, you're SOL. But people ship guitars containing mahogany from Japan all the time, so not sure why they are so wound up over it.
Actually, digging a bit deeper, it's possible your guitar is African Mahogany, which isn't a true mahogany:

African Mahogany (Khaya spp.)
African Mahogany is comprised of a handful of species in the Khaya genus, such as K. anthotheca, K. grandifoliola, K. ivorensis, and K. senegalensis.

Check out this website to help identify (link stoeln from a previous PRS forum tread on mahogany that I found):

Will the guitar eventually return to Japan?
Are they trying to fill out a CITES MIC permit application for you?
There is zero chance your guitar is made out of the real stuff; it has become super rare. There are multiple types of mahogany-like woods being used as mahogany- sapele and meranti come to mind- but they aren't related species, just similar enough looking.