So this is far away from pedal talk. There has been so much chatter about Gibson Guitars lately and I wanted to talk about it myself. Those of you not following, Gibson Guitars has been receiving a ton of criticism on the interwebs ranging from their quality control, new releases and general practices – and really catching fire after Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher talking some major smack about the company. You can read that here.
Back in the 80s and 90s I was super into Gibsons. The first ‘real’ guitar I purchased in the early 90s was an Epiphone Les Paul with gold hardware (still have it today). I remember going to a local Gibson dealer and playing a bunch of Gibsons, but when I tried out the Epiphone, I so much more preferred. I loved that guitar. But years later, I wanted a “real” Gibson and ended up getting a Black Gibson Les Paul Studio as a gift from my wife. At this time (late 90s) Gibsons were really on fire, a friend of mine had the Gibson Custom Shop Elegant, which was one of the nicest guitars I ever played. Quality was excellent, prices were still in the ballpark, etc.Seems like the late 2000s is when things started shifting. This was the first time I heard about bad press with the company, ranging from FBI raids, first time I started to hear about the CEO. The last few years, there became an obvious disconnect with the community. Technology is great, but with the burst of boutique builders and luthiers that use hands – it can turn people off. Fretting ‘robots’ to perform ‘exact’ fret jobs. Adding auto-tuning machines as a stock featre, etc.. is not following the trends that guitarists are after. Basically swimming against the current.
I’m friends with various guitar builders and a few years ago is when I started hearing about cease and desist letters that Gibson was sending out for body styles similar to Gibson. Threatening these builder who have been producing lines for years to either stop, get sued or pony up to a licensing deal – just wreaks of money desperation. Again, this sends shock waves to builders, which reverberates to musician community.
I haven’t thought about purchasing a Gibson since the late 90s.. and I’m not alone. I remember the days when you’d see Les Pauls on stage as a very common thing. Not any more. I see an overwhelming amount of Fenders and when I see an SG or Les Paul, I go “wow.. a Les Paul.. haven’t seen one of those on stage for a while”. Of course when I talk about ‘on stage’, I’m referring to my local music scene including touring acts. I know Slash still rocks one, etc. But in general, the trend has really dropped off in the last 20 years.
I wanted to post this video by Agufish, where he provides some GREAT insight on the topic:
and the follow up video…
What are your thoughts on the subject? Let me know by commenting below! Also, what do you think that Gibson needs to do to turn things around?