Thoughts on Fender and Gibson to the new generation of players.

String Tree

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Dec 8, 2010
Posts
18,215
Location
Up North
Now that I think about it, as much as us Fenderheads complain about the company being stuck in the past, Gibson is really stuck in the past. It's hard... As people have noted on this forum forever, guitarists want something new, but not TOO new! That's a hard line to walk for a company, but at least Fender is trying.

Something like a Strat or a Jaguar is a perfect blend of retro looking and modern (still! That's how forward thinking those designs were!) to appeal to younger guitarists. Gibsons are not only the same old models as forever, but the same old colors, etc.
Guitar Players in General are stuck in the Past.
Why? The Past was a 'nice' place for All of us.
Even if times were terrible, the Past is a known Quantity as where the Future is not.
Cheers.
 

loopfinding

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Jun 19, 2011
Posts
5,026
Location
europe endless
Guitar Players in General are stuck in the Past.
Why? The Past was a 'nice' place for All of us.
Even if times were terrible, the Past is a known Quantity as where the Future is not.
Cheers.

Hilariously ironic how piano took a back seat for like 50 years and now with electronic music is essentially future-proofed.
 

Happy Enchilada

Friend of Leo's
Gold Supporter
Joined
Mar 25, 2021
Posts
3,259
Location
God's Country
I'm an old fart, and as such, should only favor the Big F and G brands (note I qualified that with "should"). However ...

Gibson seems to indeed be stuck in the past, re-issuing LPs that weigh 10+ pounds in your choice of black, white, or ketchup-and-mustard sunburst. All for a measly three grand. They also offer "studio" versions at about half the price, but they still cost twice what a good Korean or Indonesian copy does. And if I was a kid starting out and didn't have "collector money," this would be the way I'd go. Case in point:
1651237343620.png

For under $600, this Indonesian Agile has a nech-through-entire-body build, a GORGEOUS carved maple (not veneer) top, ebony fingerboard, GraphTech nut and saddles on the TOM bridge, two humbuckers with coil tapping, and gold hardware (if that's your thing). It's stunning. And this photo came from my personal Reverb Watchlist, which tells you something.

My own personal go-to LP style is an Indonesian Hamer Special: Lightweight Korina body, set neck, ebony fingerboard, 2 great P90s - and I bought it new for $450. After owning a sackful of "real" LPs over decades, this little jewel satisfies my need for that type of guitar and sounds great doing it. And I saved a couple grand over the equivalent Gibson model.
1651237753566.png

Fender started making guitars in Mexico several decades ago, and they're doing a swell job. The only legit Fender I own these days is a MIM Player Tele I picked up back when they were under $600, albeit equipped with SD Hot Tele pickups, GraphTech nut, and locking tuners since. It's a highly capable and great-sounding workhorse of a guitar that I wouldn't trade for anything. However, if I was going out to buy something Tele-shaped today, this would be my choice:
1651237978784.png

Schecter PT Secial. P90 neck, singlecoil bridge. Locking tuners. 4-way switch that allows for series or parallel. TUSQ nut. Bound neck and body. All for under $700 - less than the current crop of MIMs. And oh yeah, it's finished in transparent purple, which I dig.

That being said, most of my acoustic guitars are US Guilds (except for the one that gets played the most, a humble entry-level Chinese Teton dreadnaught I got for under $300). Why? They just sound great, feel great, and I grew up in love with a big blonde jumbo FJ30 whose departure I regretted for about 30 years until my new F55 and D40 and even more recent vintage J30 12 string filled the void.
1651238867403.png


This is very similar to the discussions about tube vs. solid state amps. I grew up worshipping vacuum tube "tone," but experience and the wisdom that comes with 50+ years of playing has converted me to solid state. With the right stompbox, you can't tell a lot of difference. But when it's time to load in or out, your back knows the difference.

Nowadays I prefer to build a Tele partscaster over paying megabucks for a custom shop instrument. You get exactly what you want, and the last one I built cost me under $600. But there are plenty of folks who dig the American Fenders still, and there's room in the sandbox for all of us.
 

tfarny

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Sep 4, 2008
Posts
6,017
Location
Hudson Valley, NY
Gibson makes a ton of light guitars, the SG and the 330 are two, for sure. As for colors and "modern" innovations, Gibson actually spent a lot of time and money over the past 20 years investing in new stuff to appeal to the younger gen. Robot tuners, the "Dark Fire" Les Pauls (or whatever stupid name...) all kinds of coil combinations on push/pull switches, lighter les pauls and so on. Nobody wanted them and it is part of what drove the company to bankruptcy.
So they are focusing now on what they CAN do - selling their classic, expensive guitars to people who, at some level, believe that "only a Gibson is good enough" - which was their slogan for forever (and maybe still is).

I think OP is right though that Fender is doing a much better job of getting young players.
 

Jackroadkill

Tele-Holic
Joined
Jun 8, 2019
Posts
749
Age
43
Location
Drenewydd, Cymru
There's nothing out there like standing in front of a cranked tube head with an SG or a Les Paul.

I'm in a similar situation, but with a Tele. If you look at my avatar you'll see the rig I use in my band, which is a feedback-drenched, grinding stoner metal band. I hear what you're saying, and agree, but for me the Tele gives me what I want. The longer scale length takes downtuning (to C standard) better and I like the cut of the single-coil pickup better than the fatness of a humbucker (although, in the interests of transparency the pickup here is a Bareknuckle Piledriver).
Maybe it's different because I'm off in the extreme metal world

I tend to agree that certain genres have their stock tools, but one thing I've learned about playing heavy music is that you can do it on practically any guitar assuming that your amp and pedals will provide the grunt you want.

Les Paul's are heavy, SG's have horrible neck dive. Limited choice of pickups (humbers or 90s) ... you can get a tele or strat with almost any kind of pickup you can image... and if you can't it's usually as easy as pickguard swap.

99% of Gibsons are hardtails... it's a pretty limited choice when you look at it. .. look at the guitar world outside of Gibson, innovation and choice. .... and good basses. ;)

I think that's one of the main issues with Gibson guitars; the vast majority of them have the same layout; a 24 3/4" scale, two humbuckers, two tone and two volume controls, T-O-M bridge.... I think Gibson has been a victim of its own success here - when they try anything different the models don't sell, but I also think that they then go too far in trying to move away from this; guitarists as a group tend to be reasonably conservative and like what they know. Robotic tuners, multiple split outputs and all the other gubbins to have been applied willy-nilly to what are essentially vintage-style guitars hasn't done them any favours.

Another thing which maybe impacts the choice of "younger" musicians is the fact that you can beat the living daylights out of Fender's guitars, be that road-wear, onstage destruction or whatever, without inflicting anything like serious damage on them. We all know the story of Joe Strummer's Tele that never saw a case; perhaps a Gibson's relative frailty in comparison figures in the choice of instrument?

Ironically, when I was a much younger man (I'm now 43) I always wanted to play Gibsons. I have four now, and always play my Teles.
 

msalama

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Jul 16, 2021
Posts
1,061
Location
EUnistan
great guitars in the 70s
Just an aside, but this what I've always said. Those Norlins can be weighty, but they're JUST the thing for retro hard rock'n'roll. Hell, you can keep your Bursts for all I care, just gimme a boatload of early to mid 70's Clownbursts instead please!
 

jvin248

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Apr 18, 2014
Posts
11,286
Location
Lions & Tigers oh Mi !
.

Gibson suffers from being "your father's guitar", the kids don't want to play them.
(a lot of Strat tones in this advertising music, lol).





Every generation chooses the guitars to make their music with that can be found inexpensively at the local pawn shops. Led Zeppelin found beater LPs for cheap (discontinued because they sold so poorly), Hendrix found beater Strats for cheap, Cobain found beater Jaguars for cheap, J Mascis found a beater Jazzmaster for cheap, Eddie VanHalen bought 'seconds' body and neck to marry with a broken pickup out of a smashed 335. Fans and markets opened up after this to revitalize those old models.

Youtube is more important than signature artists were back in the old days.

So if Gibson wants to be relevant they need to be at the price points the kids can afford. Or fade off into oblivion with the older generation as "your father's guitar".

They also need to fix that fragile headstock problem, that becomes a real cost to younger players who are naturally rougher on their gear.

.
 

David C

Tele-Holic
Joined
Mar 28, 2020
Posts
529
Age
66
Location
Coraopolis, PA
Guys, women are major buyers of guitars these days and Fender has them targeted for sales as well. Look at some of the newer designs and ads from Fender and you will see a definite Female leaning. I don't see any other company that has picked up on this trend, especially Gibson.

 

Greggorios

Poster Extraordinaire
Gold Supporter
Joined
Jun 18, 2016
Posts
6,294
Location
NY
Gibson and Fender have very different marketing strategies. While they compete at certain price points Fender targets a broader spectrum of target customers from both a styling and price point perspective. Gibson is more focused on a niche market.

Why doesn't Gibson do more_____ (fill in the blank)? They choose not to. It's not about how many you sell, it's not about how much gross profit you make, it's about how much you net/keep. A well run $1 million dollar business can net you more profit than a poorly run $10 million dollar business.
 

northernguitar

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Posts
5,535
Location
North of Toronto
FWIW, the only guitar I own that‘s held its value is my 2012 Gibson Les Paul Junior Special. I got it like new in ‘12 in a trade for a guitar worth CDN$450 at the time. It was selling new for $999. I see them selling now for $1500 on Reverb.
 

David C

Tele-Holic
Joined
Mar 28, 2020
Posts
529
Age
66
Location
Coraopolis, PA
Gibson and Fender have very different marketing strategies. While they compete at certain price points Fender targets a broader spectrum of target customers from both a styling and price point perspective. Gibson is more focused on a niche market.

Why doesn't Gibson do more_____ (fill in the blank)? They choose not to. It's not about how many you sell, it's not about how much gross profit you make, it's about how much you net/keep. A well run $1 million dollar business can net you more profit than a poorly run $10 million dollar business.
Yes, profit is king. But unless you maintain the market share that is required to stay relevant, you will die. Anyone remember Ovation? They ruled as amplified acoustic guitars in the 70s and 80s. How did Taylor take their place?
 

StrangerNY

Poster Extraordinaire
Gold Supporter
Joined
Sep 6, 2010
Posts
5,929
Location
Somewhere between here and there
Gibson is doing quite well, no matter what some YT clickbaiter claims.

Yeah, this topic was picked clean over on TGP a couple of weeks ago. In fact, this Youtube guy got the idea to make the video after reading the thread over there.

Play what you want. Don't limit yourself to what's supposedly 'popular,' you may miss out on your own sound.

- D
 




Top