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Devil's Advocate: The Gibson Question

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by seanmarshall9, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. scottser

    scottser Tele-Holic

    970
    Mar 6, 2009
    dublin
    You'd want to be right spiteful dick to want to see a company closing and workers losing their jobs, no matter what the business.
    I've never owned a Gibson so I can't comment on quality but the world would be a poorer place without them.
     
    savofenno, Telemarx, Matt G and 3 others like this.

  2. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

    I'm going out and buying a buggy whip.
     
    aerhed and drlucky like this.

  3. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    All of my dream guitars, acoustic and electric are Gibsons. They aren't going away any time soon.
     
    moosie, noah330, ac15 and 1 other person like this.

  4. Piggy Stu

    Piggy Stu Friend of Leo's

    Feb 26, 2017
    UK
    Price is a funny thing

    You might look at 100£ of wood and say 'that should not be sold for £1000'

    It isn't just the labour put on it. The shop rent, the unoccupied staff, the unsold stock.... guitar companies and stores aren't making massive profits that I see, so why is it too highly priced if there is no great profit

    Coffee is the overpriced thing. Profit all over the place and hidden from tax

    As I see it, if someone sells it at the price someone else buys it at, that is the way it is meant to work. When it doesn't sell, prices drop. When it all sells out too quickly, prices rise - yes I am thinking of the Baja range
     
    trouserpress likes this.

  5. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

    There are examples of things that sell better when their prices are raised. Funny old world.
     

  6. Piggy Stu

    Piggy Stu Friend of Leo's

    Feb 26, 2017
    UK
    Geffen Paradox
     

  7. Snook

    Snook Tele-Meister

    344
    Sep 17, 2015
    Ohio
    Les Paul's aren't successful?
     
    savofenno likes this.

  8. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

    A.k.a. reverse price elasticity. Economics 101:

    In special cases the law of demand is reversed, and demand actually increases alongside price. ... Typically, as price increases demand decreases, while a decrease in price
    will result in greater demand. When the opposite happens, when higher prices actually increase demand, it is referred to as reverse elasticity.

    The usual reason for this is people are using price as a signal of quality and exclusivity. So luxury items like super cars, handmade watches, couture designer clothing, top end guitars, etc.,
    demonstrate reverse price elasticity. What we all lump together as "boutique" goods.

    Sometimes marketers try to get the best of both worlds by trying to signal high quality with a crazy list price, which few people pay, but where the street price is actually much lower.

    My main issue with Gibson through the years is their fragility. So easy to crack the headstock. They did thicken the volute (in the 80s?) but they're still fragile. I guess mahogany
    is just a lot more fragile than maple for necks, in addition to the design dimensions not helping.

    My favorite thing about them at least in the past has been their fast feeling frets and necks. I love their stock jumbo frets much more than the tall, narrow stock frets on most Fenders.
    I used to greatly prefer 25.5" scale for the snap, room, and feel, but lately I'm fine with either scale length.

    And if you're into weird guitar shapes I think it is hard to beat Gibson Explorers, Vs, and Firebirds for their iconic, classic looks. Their advantage is that they have been around for so long, I guess,
    that they look crazy but at the same time are very familiar, and we can all picture superstars who used them.
     
    seanmarshall9 and drlucky like this.

  9. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    22
    Nov 27, 2014
    Morley, England
    to be fair the lp was discontinued but probably more due to Gibsons stupidity as they were replacing the lp with the SG outright and then people wanted the lp back and it did.
     
    savofenno and Poorman512 like this.

  10. noah330

    noah330 Friend of Leo's

    Feb 10, 2009
    Maryland
    I'll play devil's advocate and ask you what defines 'overpriced'? I don't find Gibson guitars to be overpriced, so I buy them.

    If you look at their line they have USA made guitars from about $300 - $3,0000+.

    They have some really cool models for 2018 (Firebird Elite caught my eye) and have some inexpensive offerings that look cool for the people who watch their budgets (the new BFG is $1000 for a two P-90 LP).

    Gibson guitars have always been fairly expensive when compared with other guitars, but they've also been more popular.

    As for their wartime policies, most US based companies didn't produce consumer goods during WWII. Look at the car companies. I have seen wartime Gibson acoustics with the wooden tuning pegs because metal was rationed.

    As for "strange quality control issues" I only became aware of those once guitar forums came about and people wanted to own 15 guitars with name brands on the (Gretsch, Fender, Guild, Jackson, etc...) for as little money as possible. Some brands were destroyed because of this and a few (Gibson and Rickenbacker come to mind) chose to keep their high quality products American made.

    I don't know how many Gibson guitars you've owned from the 30s - 60s, but there are far less duds out there than a company like Fender produced and for a period there they were making some very, very special guitars.

    The Norlin years had their share of problems, but I remember having a conversation with a guy I worked with in a very cool used guitar shop pre-internet. Some of those Norlin guitars have five piece tops, are heavy as anything and have the ugliest finishes you've ever seen but when you plug them in they sound killer.

    Right now Gibson Custom and Historic is making some of the finest electric guitars on the planet. If you're on a Kia budget they're not for you - and a lot of people who lack the money to buy them like to slag them, just like in the car world, but I find it hard to believe many people could find fault with any of those models unless it was preference.

    The acoustic division is doing some great things as well. I have played some of the lower end models (that weird laminated thin J-15?) and they sound great, as do the higher end models.

    I think in the last six or seven years I've received about a dozen new Gibson guitars. I haven't had any issues with any of them aside from my B-Bender Les Paul having a dry fretboard.

    If you don't like them don't buy them but usually it comes across like someone who has read a lot of forums vs someone whose owned a lot of guitars.

    Yes, once in a while companies make a dud. Gibson makes a lot less than the people on the internet would like to think.
     

  11. Frontman

    Frontman Tele-Holic

    709
    Jul 10, 2014
    Tokyo
    It’s funny, because in 2006 both Fender and Gibson were talking about ever stronger sales, and the increasing popularity of playing the guitar. Then the “Great Recession” hit, in-step with stupidly high gas prices, and sales of everything except Oxycodone fell through the floor.

    When it comes to America’s economy, it has always been dependent on cheap energy. After 2008 the economy really didn’t improve for most people because nothing was done to confront high energy prices. In fact, the opposite occurred, measures taken to fight climate change kept fossil fuel prices high. Energy prices hit every American directly in the pocketbook, and greatly affect consumption of all other goods and services. Politics aside, American people require a lot of energy to power their vehicles, heat and cool their homes, and run their appliances. The more than doubling of gas prices in the late 2000’s pretty much doomed economic stability.

    And where America’s economy goes, so goes the rest of the world’s economies. Here in Japan we are dependent on a strong American economy to fuel our Japanese economy.

    The so-called “jobless recovery” of the last few years was caused by continued high energy costs. But lack of demand eventually drove down prices despite all efforts to keep them high, and, lo-and-behold, the economy is beginning to recover finally. If energy prices remain low and stable, Americans will have more money to spend on things like guitars, and Gibson may be able to get ahold of it’s debts.
     
    savofenno likes this.

  12. Hawk8789

    Hawk8789 TDPRI Member

    67
    Apr 11, 2013
    Las Vegas, Nv
    Les Paul sales were down for 1959 and 1960. See how many models sat in the shop with the hang tag protecting the dye? I suspect it had to do with the 335 coming in 1958 and being so popular, and probably mostly due to the fact that Fender had guitars and amps(I know Gibson had amps too, but c’mon, who here doesn’t think a Fender plugged into a Fender is the greatest thing!), and probably appealed more to the younger consumers who were spending more money on hobbies than their parents probably did.

    It was the British blues men and rockers that really made the Les Paul take off. I mean, when they did bring back the Les Paul, it didn’t even have humbuckers!

    Les Paul said the expensive black model was supposed to have the maple top, and the gold top was supposed to be all mohagany. Gibson has an interesting history and track record, that’s all I’m saying.

    I love Gibson. I think with Fender, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a great guitar at any price point, but if you go out and play a bunch of Gibsons, you’ll probably find one that’s really special. My R9 is the best guitar I’ve ever played, and I didn’t blink at the price. I wouldn’t pay that amount for a Fender though, and I have some nice ones.
     
    savofenno, ac15 and Paul G. like this.

  13. Picton

    Picton Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Age:
    43
    Feb 7, 2009
    Reading, Massachusetts
    ...said Studebaker, Sears, the livery-stable industry, and all the guys selling whale oil 140 years ago. To say nothing of the East India Companies, both British and Dutch.

    The list goes on. It could easily include Gibson. All it takes is mismanagement plus changing tastes.
     
    savofenno likes this.

  14. Hawk8789

    Hawk8789 TDPRI Member

    67
    Apr 11, 2013
    Las Vegas, Nv
    Gibson currently seems to be supplying a demand that doesn’t exist. They force retail stores to buy a certain quantity and then wait for the next order that doesn’t come.

    Even Fender made 1,954 of their ‘54 60th strat. You can still buy one brand new 3-4 years later. Many people bought more than one, and they still didn’t sell out a limited edition model. It blows my mind when my world revolves around the guitar and I realize how few of us there are. There is one 1954 strat for every 3.8 million people on Earth and they haven’t all sold.

    Supply outweighs demand
     
    savofenno, Piggy Stu and Smiff like this.

  15. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 14, 2013
    Indiana
    I love the dark middy thunk of their acoustics. No argument there. I'd love a J45 or a J200. Dream guitars.
     
    savofenno, noah330 and RodeoTex like this.

  16. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

    I thought the story was that players didn't really like them because of their weight etc. They weren't selling and not in demand. If Clapton hadn't used the Les Paul with his Marshall perhaps the LP would never have made a comeback. Plus, there's the whole Jimmy Page thing.
    I love to look at my Les Paul because it is beautiful and it produces some wonderful tones but it would be the first to go if I had to part with one of my guitars.
     
    savofenno, Boltneck and musicalmartin like this.

  17. revellfa

    revellfa TDPRI Member

    Age:
    40
    9
    Jun 29, 2017
    Lavale, Md.
    Don't know what will happen but I've been a banjo player all my life. As for failure--Gibson hasn't produced banjos since at least 2009. It seems at this point that they have bowed out of banjo production.

    So, it can happen. Gibson banjos are iconic, so are other models.

    If they reentered the market tomorrow they would likely succeed although I think customers would be leery for a while.

    Gibson can fail or thrive, it's up to them. I think their decision to diversify into the electronics market will be a sink or swim watershed moment on their history
     
    savofenno likes this.

  18. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

    I don't know enough about their history of chaos. All I can is that they must have done some things right to produce in no particular order:
    J45, Hummingbirds, SJ200, ES-335, ES-175, ES-275, L5, Les Paul, SG, etc.
    It may be popular to bash Gibson but there are plenty of folks who bash Fender as well.
    IMO, Gibson and Fender have each had their product lines bloated with unnecessary and gimmicky products. Shame on them. However, I have never had a bad product from either of them. Maybe I am not discriminating enough to know they have all sucked.
     
    savofenno and seanmarshall9 like this.

  19. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

    The notion that oil prices are driven by environmental regulations and that this in turn drives the economy is not supported by the facts: here are oil prices adjusted for inflation.
    While there are correlations, economic cycles here and abroad drive oil prices more than the other way around, in my opinion. In addition, major shocks like Sept 11 and the '08
    crash also have an impact. Much of the steady increase from 2001-2008 was driven by high growth in China and strong demand.

    In the U.S. it is complex because right now a decent chunk of our economy includes oil production, which is just now picking up as the price of
    crude has ticked up. But most of the U.S. economy-- Hollywood, Silicon Valley, health care industry, services etc., etc. are not industrial in nature and therefore are not very
    sensitive to changes in oil prices. Even industries that run on oil like agriculture and airlines are affected but not completely dominated by it given all the other costs, especially labor.

    Disposable income of many consumers IS sensitive to the price they pay at the pump so obviously there is a feedback loop there. However, in general Americans spend a lower
    percentage of their net income on fuel and food than ever. Things like growing health care costs take a bigger bite out most peoples' wallets than gasoline.

    But the crash of '08 and the subsequent drop in consumer demand had everything to do with the bursting of the housing bubble and pretty much nothing to do with environmental
    regulations.

    Another huge factor in the U.S. economy is the long term trend of the hollowing out the middle class, which is driven by many different factors and isn't a simple story at all.

    Just my $0.02.

    upload_2018-1-12_15-54-44.png
     
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  20. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI
    .

    It took Fender selling amps (and guitars with them) to convince Gibson to 'hey, go find that Les Paul guy. We need him after all' just to catch up. Fender made his guitars cheap to sell his amps, and he already knew the Gibson non-electric headstock breaking problems so he made a neck that could be replaced easily. Gibson laughed at him bolting two planks together but they changed up and continued to copy Fender models, like the SG replacement for the LP was meant to match what Fender was doing.

    The Gibson brand and the guitars will remain. The question is when will the current company either spin them off on their own again, having used their brand/debt/profits to buy other companies to hop onto managing, or just sell the Gibson brand off (and to who) for some cash to spend elsewhere. Cash is yummy, they will try to sell if possible.

    I doubt Fender would buy. PRS would not buy, they are already out-quality-ing Gibson. One of the Chinese factories that makes/made Epiphone guitars is the most likely buyer, like whatever company is making the fake Gibsons -- but probably not.
    More likely a company like Samick or Cort that currently builds guitars for all the other brands. Samick already builds 80% of all the import guitars for all the brands. Gibson is a behemoth of sales, so large that Samick could risk sales to all the little players they currently service to focus on just Gibson and Epiphone (cutting off supply to what would be their competitors would be an advantage anyway). They could set up another plant in the US for Epiphone and start to change perception of Asia vs USA built guitars. They could make bodies in Asia and necks plus final assembly here for 'Made in USA'. They could build everything there and ship over to do final assembly and maybe pass for 'MIA', there are a lot of opportunities for shenanigans. What is the minimum for that sticker? They could do it. Or, they spend heavily on marketing to convince everyone that country of origin does not mean good or bad quality while also convincing everyone that local woods are as good as rain forest lumber for tone. By buying Gibson they could achieve all of that.

    I have an Artist Series Samick that is as good as my Gibson even though it had been abused by prior owner(s). So they can do it if they have the ego and desire to get out front in the market.

    All of a sudden it is not country-of-origin nor fancy rain forest lumber that sets prices, but the actual craftsmanship of a guitar and the brand. A scary place for all the other guitar brands that have spent years convincing buyers to spend for 'vintage designs', 'vintage wood', MIA, or 'rosewood/ebony/mahogany'.

    Actually, the CEOs of Fender and PRS might get motivated by that Armageddon risk to actually offer up some bids.

    Never a dull moment in business.

    .
     

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