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Devil's Advocate: The Gibson Question

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

  1. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

    Nov 27, 2014
    Morley, England
    To be fair that's more accurate, SGs are Gibson's best selling electric guitar of all time and they're much more basic than les Paul's in terms of production. Plus ill take an SG over a Les Paul any day of the week unless it's a very pretty semi-hollow

  2. viccortes285

    viccortes285 Tele-Holic

    Jan 14, 2017
    I feel that Gibsons feel better and makes me want to play more. I own 2 Gibsons Les Pauls and love them both. My Carvin comes close, yes just can sustain for days like my Gibsons do. I use Fender Deluxe Reverb amps a 65 and a 68.
    savofenno and seanmarshall9 like this.

  3. Electric Mud

    Electric Mud Tele-Holic

    Jan 26, 2017
    SW PA
    Maybe CBS will buy Gibson.
    Honest Charley and Anode100 like this.

  4. Picton

    Picton Friend of Leo's

    Feb 7, 2009
    Reading, Massachusetts
    savofenno and Anode100 like this.

  5. wooderson

    wooderson Tele-Meister

    Dec 22, 2007
    DFW, TX
    I'm suspicious this is part of Gibson's problem - the entry level guitars are missing certain things (a glossy finish, inlays, binding, etc.) that make them seem to some people as shoddy compared to the Standard-level lines. They hang next to each other on the walls and this makes the contrast more stark and feeds into the appearance that Gibson is making shoddy matte unbound guitars on one side or overcharging for a glossy finish and some binding on the other.

    Fender's price differential is lower and visually there's little difference between a mid-level MIM and the best MIA you can find in an average store. (The MIM might even look more expensive if there's a Road Worn Jazzmaster next to an American Pro Telecaster.)

    Perhaps Gibson should reserve the Gibson name for the glossy/bound/etc. models and make the Faded/Tribute-level stuff either Epiphone (with a Gibson headstock) or find a trade name for the space between Epiphone and Gibson. Maybe bring back Orville by Gibson but have it be an American brand or use the Epiphone Masterbuilt moniker for electrics?

  6. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Memphis TN
    A friend of mine works at the Memphis Gibson plant, he said they did sell the property but are looking for another site here.
    I don't think they are closing down production in Memphis, but who knows ...
    I do know that the hollow body Gibsons I've seen made in Memphis were really nice guitars, my tech has a 335 that's a couple years old and it looked, played and sounded great.
    Same with another buddy who had a Johnny A and a CS356.

  7. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    I read in the local paper that Gibson was moving to a smaller building downtown.

  8. stratoman1

    stratoman1 Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 12, 2016
    Virginia Beach, Va

    That's why my favorite local store stopped carrying Gibson. Gibson mandated a huge order, well over 100,000 bucks minimum and then there had to be at least so many of certain models. They didn't care if there was a demand for those models in the area or not either. So after some thinking the store declined after at least 20 years of being a Gibson dealer. That irritates me on the Gibson end, I don't blame the store a bit. I prefer buying new guitars and at those prices I want to play them first
    savofenno likes this.

  9. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Holic

    Jul 13, 2014
    Manchester, UK
    In anything causes Gibson to go belly up in the near future it's not going to be the odd model choices, marketing strategies and QC that forum enthusiasts obsess over. Henry's problem is he's invested heavily in building an empire, using equity raised against the guitar company, and much of what he's chosen to invest in is very low margin in a rapidly declining market, so Gibson as a whole are now in trouble because they have huge debt and lots of dead weight to carry. The guitars aren't really the problem here, even when they do have robo-tuners and zero fret nuts.

    Still, the guitars themselves...

    QC? Two points. Firstly, Gibson QC had never been brilliant.They certainly weren't great when I used to run QC for a Gibson dealer 15 years ago and I've seen plenty of dodgy stuff from Ted McCarty's era as well. If they haven't gone out of business over QC in the last 100 years, they probably won't now. Secondly, forums tend to act as an echo chamber for this stuff and if your main exposure to Gibson is what you read online you'd be forgiven for thinking every guitar is a disaster. But in reality it's not every guitar, lots of the issues are easily sortable (if the guitar hanging on the wall has a high action or won't stay in tune, 99 times out of 100 it's a five minute fix for the shop), and lots of people who buy them don't really mind the odd blemish. Sure, if they sorted out the QC issues they'd probably sell more but it would cost money to address and, objectively, if they can sell everything they make anyway where's the impetus for change? It's very annoying if you're a fan of the bands and you'd hope a company that took pride in their product wouldn't let it happen but it's not the problem where their current financial difficulties are concerned.

    The 'Henry's bonkers' stories and Glass Door stuff - and I've heard some incredible stuff first hand from ex-employees - again it's horrible and shouldn't happen, but objectively if Gibson can keep a workforce up and running then it isn't a contributing problem in terms of their current problems. Bare in mind 95% of Gibson customers don't know who Henry is let alone hours he treats his employees.

    As far as new models go, Gibson are now in a strange position where, for all their legal posturing over people making guitars that look like theirs, their biggest competitor by far is used guitars they made themselves. Once you realise that, it makes sense that they keep trying to introduce new features to classic models that don't really need them, and new designs (Firebird Zero) that are comfortingly Gibson, because they need to give salesmen a reason to say 'you should buy the new one because it has all these these cool new features that no previous version has'.

    The same goes for the policy of changing all the models yearly and discontinuing models only to do limited runs a few months later - it's all geared towards getting serial guitar buyers putting their hands in their pockets even when they have half a dozen of the same model at home, because the have to have the new edition. The problem with this off course is the more you rely on selling the same customer the newest version, the more used ones end up on the market when they thin the rest of the herd to pay for the one they just bought. Personally from the perspective of someone who's worked in the industry since the early 2000s, the used market is by far the biggest issue facing the industry at this point.

    Still, overall I'd say Gibson's fundamental problem is nothing to do with guitars - it's how to reshuffle the business so they turn around or get rid of all of the peripheral rubbish Henry's aquired without having to sell up altogether to pay the debt or file for bankrupcy. Unfortunately that's going to be a hell of a lot harder than rejigging a few guitar models.
    a_pidgeon, moosie, savofenno and 8 others like this.

  10. Piggy Stu

    Piggy Stu Friend of Leo's

    Feb 26, 2017
    Without wishing to sound sychophantic, this is one of the best things I ever read on this site. I have read weaker analysis in the Financial Times

    a_pidgeon, savofenno, jayyj and 2 others like this.

  11. Anode100

    Anode100 Friend of Leo's

    May 9, 2014
    Behind my beard.

    This forum is proof that 'Teh Internetz' does not make you dumber.

  12. Pickcity

    Pickcity Tele-Meister

    Oct 12, 2017
    Atlanta, Ga.
    +2. It was a great post.
    jayyj and seanmarshall9 like this.

  13. Matthias

    Matthias Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 30, 2003
    IMHO, they need to sort the range out as they've really lost their rep as a trusted heritage brand. It's all over the place with too many models all on their main site. They don't seem to have a sense of pride in the classic-spec products, with their willingness to discontinue them for a whole year in 2015. For me, they need to go back to the simpler sort of ranges they had before:

    - A Studio range - satin or faded finishes and no frills - group them together, simplify them and use this to test out new designs. Even get rid of the gloss studios. High quality, good looks
    - A traditional/standard range - classic spec, classic colours plus things like Midtown and Nighthawk which follow the rules and vision
    - A custom range - expensive, historic and exotic stuff
    - Special runs for the year, rather that relaunching the whole range every year
    Artist range

    I don't believe Gibson even need a particular 'standard' range separate to the trad range. If you look at the small changes Fender have made such as radius and headstock adjustment, there's much less you need to change. Stick the really expensive stuff on a different, premium site that feels like a car showroom...

    Possibly add a modern Melody Maker range if they want to explore the low-end student market. But they are better to push Epiphone for this rather than cut corners on something like a Firebird Zero.

    The current website is odd, old-fashioned and overcrowded. There are 2 mustangs, 9 Jaguars and 9 Jazzmasters on the Fender site (which includes left hand options). There are 16 Firebirds, 13 Flying Vs and 12 Explorers. The UX is weird. The Fender site lets you search by features such as colour, radius, price, etc. The Gibson site offers model year. They do things like clump all the models together and don't let you filter the models directly. So if you want an ES 335, you have to work through 6 pages of assorted hollowbodies. People lust after a trad-spec Gibson for years or decades before they scrape the cash to buy. Make sure the models are there and obvious when they get the cash. IMHO, of course!
    savofenno, rob2 and seanmarshall9 like this.

  14. radiocaster

    radiocaster Friend of Leo's

    Aug 18, 2015
    The Fender site is updated and most of the models are pretty easy to find.

    Gibson models on the site were made in smaller numbers and there are some models on the site which are not available anymore. Which doesn't mean there might not be one or two dusty new ones in a corner of an obscure shop somewhere, but they are not generally available. The Epiphone site is not much different.
    savofenno likes this.

  15. Chicago Slim

    Chicago Slim Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 19, 2005
    Bowling Green, KY
    After talking with store owner's and guitar department managers, I don't feel good about supporting the company. Nothing against their guitars, but I will only buy used.
    savofenno and Piggy Stu like this.

  16. seanmarshall9

    seanmarshall9 TDPRI Member

    May 13, 2015
    I'm glad many are defending Gibson. My "Devil's Advocate" stance was not to hop on the band wagon- I intended to defend them, to say that they have always been scrutinized for these same things, but we still have them as our favorite guitars. My point was to say that these seemingly strange moments are what makes us love Gibson, so we should just let Gibson be Gibson.

    Personally, my favorite guitar I've ever owned is a '92 J45.

    As for prices, some of them are ridiculous - like the twice painted relic LPs from '17, but maybe that's how they are competing w the used market.

    Here's to hoping Gibson stays afloat.
    savofenno likes this.

  17. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

    Why do people keep saying Fender guitars were cheap when introduced. They were not! Adjusted for inflation a Tele in '51 or '52 was priced somewhere between where the American Professional and American Vintage series guitars cost today.
    savofenno likes this.

  18. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    It's not a bug; it's a FEATURE!

    Haven't you heard? It still is!
    savofenno likes this.

  19. VikinginLA

    VikinginLA Tele-Meister

    Sep 15, 2013
    Los Angeles
    Thea early 90's are well known to be some of the most solid Les Pauls.,

  20. Ripradiant

    Ripradiant Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 31, 2014
    Alberta Canada
    I love my Tele's but I don't think you can beat a Gibson LP. The quality, beauty & playability of an LP (pure power steering) cant be beat!
    ac15 likes this.

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