Gibson's 'Government Series' guitars made from seized wood

Feb. 4, 2014 at 4:00 PM
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NASHVILLE, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Tennessee guitar maker Gibson Guitar Corp. said its new "Government Series" guitars contain wood seized from the company's factory by government agents.

Company officials said the Government Series II Les Paul guitar, available only in the "government tan" color, contains rosewood seized by government agents in a pair of raids on the Nashville factory, the (Nashville) Tennessean reported Tuesday.

The company said the guitar -- with a price starting at $1,099 -- "suitably marks this infamous time in Gibson's history."

Gibson officials did not say how many of the guitars would be produced, but the run will be limited because each instrument will contain seized wood.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents raided the factory in 2009 and again two years later, after allegations the seized wood had been imported from Madagascar in violation of the Lacey Act, which prohibits the importing of wood from endangered forests.

Gibson denied wrongdoing in the case, but agreed to pay a $350,000 settlement and implement a program to strengthen its compliance.

In exchange, the government agreed not to file criminal charges against the company.

"When the powers that be confiscated stocks of tonewoods from the Gibson factory in Nashville -- only to return them once there was a resolution and the investigation ended -- it was an event worth celebrating," the company said in a release.

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