Gibson Guitar Company Gives the Feds the Finger

 

The award for P.R. champion of the week goes to the Gibson guitar company, makers of the famous Les Paul guitar, and headquartered, I’m proud to say, here in my hometown of Nashville, Tennessee.

A couple of years ago, the Feds raided the Gibson factory here in Music City, SWAT-team style, and shut the whole company down, allegedly for possessing illegally imported wood. From what I gather, it had mostly to do with how the shipping containers were labeled. Anyway, it didn’t merit a commando operation.

It was a disproportionate action on dubious grounds.

Gibson later settled for $300,000. But not until after it had already lost far more than that by virtue of being forced to shut down operations.

This week Gibson has announced the “Government Series” of guitars, to celebrate the end of its tussle with the eager enforcers of the U.S. Customs Department.

It’s a series of guitars made, purportedly, with the very same wood that was seized by the United States government, which was later returned at the end of the fiasco.

Ladies and gentlemen, Here’s a photo of the Gibson Les Paul Government Series II. The body is painted in a custom color the company has named “Government Tan”–suitably drab–a nod to the joyless reality of living under the heavy thumb of stifling bureaucracy.

I promise you, I’m not making this up. Go to the website and see for yourself.

I don’t need another guitar, but I may have to buy one of these.

P.S. If a savvy marketing person down at Gibson HQ wants to cut me a “special deal” on one of these, I promise I will personally upload a video here on Ricochet, demonstrating the doubtlessly liberating tones of of this musical monument to freedom and due process.

(h/t Mark Hemingway)

There are 32 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Moderator
    @MikeRapkoch

    I don’t even know how to play the guitar, but I want one, suitable for framing, to put up in the living room.

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Member
    @BrentB67

    Play it Nathan!

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Member
    @WhiskeySam

    Excellent!  This almost makes me want to switch from Fender.

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Wish I liked Gibson more….like Whiskey Sam, I am a Fender man.

    That said…bravo to them!

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Member
    @JohnAPeabody

    Oh, the color should be very pale green. My Dad called it “Federal Green”, and pointed it out when we visited post offices, etc. I’ve lived in barracks rooms painted that color.

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Member
    @MarionEvans

    Nice, but shouldn’t a government guitar have only one string? One string connected directly to your wallet. You’re taxed for every strum.

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Member
    @BlueStateBlues

    The description at the link says that the guitar “is topped by a pickguard that’s hot-stamped in gold with the Government Series graphic—a bald eagle hoisting a Gibson guitar neck.”  I see no pickguard in any of the pictures.  It might have improved the looks.

    I almost want to buy one on principle, but the color is really awful.  I understand Gibson is steamed but why create an ugly guitar just to make a point?

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Valiuth
    Blue State Blues:   I understand Gibson is steamed but why create an ugly guitar just to make a point? · in 4 minutes

    Because this is America!

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Member
    @JimmyCarter
    Valiuth

    Blue State Blues:   I understand Gibson is steamed but why create an ugly guitar just to make a point? · in 4 minutes

    Because this is America! · 1 minute ago

    Amen. It’s called principle.

    If They guaranteed Me that it wouldn’t work, hell, I’d buy one.

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Contributor
    @NathanHarden

    I think they were going for the Soviet aesthetic.

    Blue State Blues: The description at the link says that the guitar “is topped by a pickguard that’s hot-stamped in gold with the Government Series graphic—a bald eagle hoisting a Gibson guitar neck.”  I see no pickguard in any of the pictures.  It might have improved the looks.

    I almost want to buy one on principle, but the color is really awful.  I understand Gibson is steamed but why create an ugly guitar just to make a point? · 5 minutes ago

    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Thatcher
    @RushBabe49

    I passed this on to my boss’s boss, who is a rock musician.  Thanks!

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Member
    @MattyVan

    Great story! Reminds me of another where the company was not awed by the government, or the media, or PC attitudes. A few years back, Newsweek interviewed the head of the Organization of Lichtenstein Bankers (or some such name) (Lichtenstein is, apparently, a virtual or de facto canton of Switzerland). The German govt. had just caught several Germans hiding their money in Lichtenstein to avoid taxes using laws designed to catch terrorists. They found zero terrorists, just tax “evaders.” Newsweek, expecting the bankers to be all contrite and apologetic, asked about them about providing safe havens for tax evaders. The good banker, far from contrite or apologetic, replied, “We don’t consider tax evasion a crime.” If I played the guitar, and had a meaningful stash of cash, I’d be playing, Gibson and Lichtenstein would be the beneficiaries.

    • #12
  13. Profile Photo Member
    @BlueStateBlues

    The look just doesn’t float my boat.  And I wish it did, because I’d like to support Gibson.

    • #13
  14. Profile Photo Member
    @skipsul
    Jimmy Carter

    Valiuth

    Blue State Blues:   I understand Gibson is steamed but why create an ugly guitar just to make a point? · in 4 minutes

    Because this is America! · 1 minute ago

    Amen. It’s called principle.

    If They guaranteed Me that it wouldn’t work, hell, I’d buy one. · 58 minutes ago

    I don’t even play, and I want one just ’cause.

    • #14
  15. Profile Photo Member
    @skipsul
    Nathan Harden: I think they were going for the Soviet aesthetic.

    Blue State Blues: The description at the link says that the guitar “is topped by a pickguard that’s hot-stamped in gold with the Government Series graphic—a bald eagle hoisting a Gibson guitar neck.”  I see no pickguard in any of the pictures.  It might have improved the looks.

    I almost want to buy one on principle, but the color is really awful.  I understand Gibson is steamed but why create an ugly guitar just to make a point? · 5 minutes ago

    58 minutes ago

    If that were the case, they should have made it out of rebar reinforced concrete with a socialist-realistic bust of Barry at the end.

    • #15
  16. Profile Photo Member
    @MerinaSmith

    Darn–just bought a cutaway for Christmas or I’d buy one.  I actually like the color.  I love this in your face move!

    • #16
  17. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @ChrisCampion

    If there was ever a guitar built to be smashed at the end of an interminable solo, it’s one of these.

    Right over an AG’s forehead.

    • #17
  18. Profile Photo Member
    @Boymoose

    How many guitars do you need?

    One more!

    Great post Nathan

    • #18
  19. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @Spin

    The owner of the company I work for has a saying, and I’ve heard it many times:

    “It’s like [expletive] Soviet Union around here!”  

    • #19
  20. Profile Photo Member
    @JimmyCarter
    skipsul

    Jimmy Carter

    Amen. It’s called principle.

    If They guaranteed Me that it wouldn’t work, hell, I’d buy one. · 58 minutes ago

    I don’t even play, and I want one just ’cause. · 25 minutes ago

    My point was that if the color of the guitar was to symbolize the government, then so should it’s ability to work and be productive.

    • #20
  21. Profile Photo Member
    @BlueStateBlues

    I still would want the pickguard with the eagle in gold holding the guitar neck.  That’s cool.  But I don’t see it on the guitar.  It would make it a little less plain-Jane.

    • #21
  22. Profile Photo Member
    @HartmannvonAue
    Whiskey Sam: Excellent!  This almost makes me want to switch from Fender. · 14 hours ago

    Sam, that’s exactly what I thought. Maybe an Epiphone next time instead of a Strat. 

    • #22
  23. Profile Photo Contributor
    @PaulARahe

    If it really deserves to be called  a Government Guitar, it won’t work most of the time.

    • #23
  24. Profile Photo Member
    @gnarlydad

    A delightful post Nathan. Thanks. Glad to see Gibson has not caved.

    My mom had a name for that color: piss-muncle-dung. Muncle rhyms with uncle, hence the spelling.

    • #24
  25. Profile Photo Member
    @BlueStateBlues

    If it’s an Obama guitar it will only play one note.  Only comes in the left-handed version.

    • #25
  26. Profile Photo Member
    @MerinaSmith
    Blue State Blues: If it’s an Obama guitar it will only play one note.  Only comes in the left-handed version. · 0 minutes ago

    That gives us hope, since most people are right-handed.

    • #26
  27. Profile Photo Member
    @Ekosj

    Damn! They never do anything sweet like this for the bass players. I want a Gov’t Series Thunderbird. But no. Guess we’re just supposed to stand next to the drummer with our Fenders and go ‘thunk’a thunk’a thunk’.

    • #27
  28. Profile Photo Member
    @WhiskeySam
    Ekosj: Damn! They never do anything sweet like this for the bass players. I want a Gov’t Series Thunderbird. But no. Guess we’re just supposed to stand next to the drummer with our Fenders and go ‘thunk’a thunk’a thunk’. · 0 minutes ago

    Preach it, brother!

    • #28
  29. Profile Photo Member
    @BlueStateBlues

    They also have these.

    SGGGGNBC1-Finish-Shot.jpg

    Also Explorers and Flying Vs, although currently I’m having trouble with pictures on their website.

    • #29
  30. Profile Photo Member
    @BlueStateBlues

    Here are pictures of the Explorer and the V from Ebay.

    m9FfvzbwkGF7U4cRbXRNKQQ.jpgmiV46dK17TKltGP-ieC0NCA.jpg

    • #30

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