Donald Trump kept a Gibson guitar next to secret documents – and guitarists are dying to know what it is

Donald Trump and the Mar-a-Lago Gibson guitar case
(Image credit: The Washington Post / Getty / Justice Department)

Guitarists across the web are speculating about the contents of a Gibson guitar case stored alongside top secret documents at former president Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago residence.

The photo was reportedly sent to an unnamed Trump staffer by the ex-president’s ‘bag man’ Walt Nauta in December 2021 and has now emerged as part of a 49-page indictment document issued by the Department of Justice.

The document lays out allegations relating to Trump’s storage and concealment of classified material, which could have implications for national security. Images showed the documents stored in a ballroom, a bathroom, next to a toilet and sprawling across the floor of a storage room at Mar-a-Lago.

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Internet guitar sleuths, however, only have eyes for one item: a Gibson-branded, brown leather-style softcase. As such, guitarists of all stripes (and political allegiances) have been taking to Twitter to speculate on what might be inside and how it came to be in Trump possessions. 

Pup’s Steve Sladkowski was one of the first to ask the question, writing, “I gotta know what’s in the Gibson guitar case in that one Trump document photo, man.”

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Songwriter Will Stratton gave it some thought, positing that it could be a gift from right-wing rockstar and Gibson user Ted Nugent. 

“It looks like it's the right size for an SG or a Les Paul,” says Stratton. “I can imagine him saying an SG is ‘too pointy’ – I've got to guess it's a goldtop Les Paul.”

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The Goldtop would certainly chime with Trump’s famed taste in interior design –which favors shiny, preferably gold, finishes on almost everything. 

Likewise, an SG or a Les Paul is a solid guess. The case is a Gibson Premium Softcase finished in brown leather-effect vinyl and it is indeed designed to hold a Les Paul or an SG – likely ruling out an acoustic guitar, or Nugent’s favored hollow-bodied Byrdland model.

Other Twitter users complimented the former-president’s taste in owning a Gibson, while others speculated that it might belong to Baron Trump or that – in keeping with his controversial reputation – Trump might be using the branding as cover for an inferior build.

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Other guitarists were just shocked that the former president, even owned an instrument and some went so far as to link the image to Gibson’s share price performance.

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Arguably, though, New Jersey folk musician Anthony D’Amato offered perhaps the definitive guitar geek summary: “Yes, illegally keeping classified documents out in the open and strewn all over the floor is bad,” comments D’Amato. but let’s not lose sight of Trump's most egregious offense: keeping a Gibson in a softshell case.”

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That said, we’d have to argue that the former president’s most egregious six-string offence is issuing these Trump-branded NFT cards of him playing a guitar with a non-sensical whammy bar.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.