Gibson’s Government Series Fit for a Tea Party

Photograph by Jeff Adkins/Bloomberg

Painted guitars hang to dry after being lacquered at the Gibson Guitar Corp. factory in Nashville, Tennessee.

Gibson Guitar, which provided a rallying cry for the Tea Party after a series of federal raids on its Nashville factory beginning in 2009, is putting out a new line of guitars tweaking its tormentors.

“Fight the Powers That Be,” says the company’s online introduction to the new Government Series II Les Paul, the solid-body standard which includes a fingerboard made of the same rosewood that U.S. Fish and Wildlife seized in the armed raids.

The agency suspected the rosewood had been illegally imported from protected forests in Madagascar, in violation of a century old environmental law.

The raids outraged nascent Tea Party groups, which adopted Gibson and its outspoken CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, as victims of federal government overreach and environmental lunacy.

The company ultimately paid $300,000 to settle the case while continuing to deny wrongdoing. Fish and Wildlife returned the seized wood. The guitar-maker boasts that the new rosewood necks are “made from wood returned to Gibson by the US government after the resolution.”

The new Government Series guitar line “suitably marks this infamous time in Gibson’s history,” the company’s website says.“Great Gibson electric guitars have long been a means of fighting the establishment.”

The new Les Paul, with a solid mahogany body and a carved maple top, “makes a superb statement with its unique appointments,” the website says. “A distinctive vintage-gloss Government Tan finish, complemented by black-chrome hardware and black plastics and trim, is topped by a pickguard that’s hot-stamped in gold with the Government Series graphic—a bald eagle hoisting a Gibson guitar neck.”

The Government Series Les Pauls start at $1,099. Gibson has issued the Government Series II SG and Explorer as well, both starting at $999.

They’re all armed with “Dirty Fingers+”’ humbuckers, pickups guaranteed to be heard. And the certificate of authenticity is signed by Juszkiewicz.

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