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HQ 083831

June 9, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 083831 KK


TARIFF NO: 8518.10.00

Mr. A.J. Gillette
Korg U.S.A. Inc.
89 Frost Street
Westbury, N.Y. 11590

RE: Electric guitar sound pickup microphone device.

Dear Mr. Gillette:

Your request of February 9, 1989, for a binding ruling under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), regarding the tariff classification of guitar pickups was referred to this office for a direct reply to you.


The subject articles are electric guitar "pickups" which consist of magnet cores with wire coiled around them. The movement of the strings on an electric guitar are brought to bear on the magnetic field of the magnet, thereby producing electric impulses by induction. The current thus created is presented to an amplifier as a voltage across the input resistance of said amplifier.


Whether the pickup devices are properly classifiable as "[m]icrophones" in heading 8518; as "[p]arts . . . and accessories . . . of musical instruments" in heading 9209; or as "[e]lectrical machines and apparatus" in heading 8543.


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 states, in part, that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section and chapter notes. The Explanatory Notes, the official interpretation of the HTSUSA at the international level, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the tariff classification of merchandise.

Classification of the subject merchandise in heading 9209 is precluded by operation of the Explanatory Notes to headings 9207 and 9209. Explanatory Note (D) to heading 9207 states that "electrical or electronic apparatus . . . are excluded and fall in their respective headings (Chapter 85) whenever they are not built into the unit itself." Explanatory Note (D)(3) to heading 9209, which pertains to parts and accessories for the instruments of heading 9207, cross references "Explanatory Note to heading 90.27 regarding electronic parts and accessories." In effect, to the extent that electronic parts and accessories for musical instruments are provided for in chapter 85, they are classifiable in that chapter.

Explanatory Note (A) to heading 8518 states in pertinent part:


Microphones convert sound vibrations into corresponding variations or oscillations of electric current, thus enabling them to be transmitted . . . they include:

(3) Moving Coil or ribbon microphones, in which sound vibrations are brought to bear on a coil . . . in a magnetic field, thus producing electric impulses by induction.

As a matter of function, the sound vibrations created by the movement of the strings of a guitar disturb the magnetic field of the magnet in the instant devices, thus producing electric impulses by induction. Accordingly, in view of the description in heading 8518 and the accompanying explanatory notes set forth above, the subject guitar pickups are specifically provided for in that heading. This being the case, heading 8543 is not applicable.


The subject guitar pickups are properly classifiable in subheading 8518.10.00, HTSUSA, which provides for "[m]icrophones and stands therefor . . . [m]icrophones and stands therefor," dutiable at 4.9 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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