Table of Contents
- Gibson Guitars: Instrumental in Defining the Sound of Popular Music
- About the Brand
- Transformation to Gibson Brands
- Famous Artists who Played Gibson
- Popular Gibson Guitar Series / Types
- World Wide Appeal
- Gibson over the Years
- Trivia for Guitar Players
- Gibson vs Other Brands
- How Gibson Classics are Crafted
- Use of Exotic wood in High End Guitars
- Recommended Gibson Guitars
- Gibson Electric Guitars
- Gibson Acoustic Guitars
- Gibson Bass Guitars
- Learn & Master Guitar Review
- Choosing a Guitar
Gibson Guitars: Instrumental in Defining the Sound of Popular Music
If you look at the history of the electric guitars, you would see how Gibson and Les Paul have played a major role in not just inventing the electric guitar but also making it so popular.
Gibson instruments have been quite instrumental in defining the sound of popular music, especially rock ‘n’ roll.
About the Brand
Gibson was founded in 1894 and is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s one of the fastest-growing companies in the Music and Sound industry. Gibson (now known as Gibson Brands), though popularly known for their guitars, is actually a global leader in musical instruments, and consumer and professional audio.
Gibson has a portfolio of over a hundred well-recognized brand names starting with the number one guitar brand, Gibson. Other brands include: Epiphone, Dobro, Valley Arts, Kramer, Steinberger, Tobias, Slingerland, Maestro, Baldwin, Hamilton, Chickering and Wurlitzer. Audio brands include: KRK Systems, TASCAM, Cerwin-Vega, Stanton, Onkyo, Integra, TEAC and Esoteric.
Long back, Epiphone used to be Gibson’s main competitors, however Epiphone fell on some hard times and Gibson ended up buying them with a plan to just continue selling their successful line of guitars. Most of the Epiphone guitars of today are the more economical versions of some popular Gibson guitar models.
The Gibson J-45, Gibson Hummingbird, Gibson SJ-200, are just some of the several popular models from this brand.
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Transformation to Gibson Brands
To reflect Gibson’s expanding range of products and evolving lifestyle orientation, Gibson Guitar Corp. was recently renamed “Gibson Brands”.
The transformation from Gibson Guitars to Gibson Brands reflects the company’s comprehensive lineup of premium products that now covers the entire music and sound signal chain, from the musician’s instruments to the listener’s audio choices.
Famous Artists who Played Gibson
The number of artists who currently play, or who have played Gibson Guitars would take up a great deal of space, but some of the more notable ones would include Classical guitarist Eddie Lang, the Beatles’ own George Harrison and John Lennon, Folk singer Bob Dylan, The Everly Brothers, Woodie Guthrie, Emmylou Harris, Wes Montgomery, and even Sheryl Crow.
Other names include Angus Young (AC/DC), Chuck Berry, Peter Frampton, Ace Frehley (Kiss), Jimi Hendrix, Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath), B. B. King, Robby Krieger (The Doors), Bob Marley, Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones), Pete Townshend (The Who), Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne), Frank Zappa and more.
They all had their favorite models and styles, and all of them preferred Gibson above other models.
Popular Gibson Guitar Series / Types
- Gibson Les Paul Standard: First released in 1952, electric guitars by Gibson.
- Gibson Les Paul Deluxe: Originated from the gibson les paul standard, the main feature of the gibson les paul deluxe was its mini humbuckers.
- Gibson Les Paul Custom: Uses the tune-o-matic bridge that allowed individual string tonation and adjustments
- Gibson Les Paul Junior
- Gibson SG (Les Paul Standard): Developed as a modernization of the Les Paul, the SG is slimmer and has a double cutaway body. The smaller body of the SG causes the center of the balance of the guitar to be further up the neck in comparison to the Les Paul.
- Gibson Johnny Smith
- Gibson J-45 Guitar
- Gibson J-50 Guitar
- Gibson ES 100 125 Guitars
- Gibson Firebird Guitar
- Flying V: First released with a korina body, the line was discontinued due to low sales, only to be reintroduce with a mahogany body.
World Wide Appeal
Today the Les Paul and SG models have become classics and are proof of the world wide appeal of Gibson; and they are also one of the biggest producers of Guitars. But then they have been in the business for several decades now.
Gibson’s close relationship with famous musicians is evident in their signature models, Les Pauls, and acoustics made to the personal specifications of other famous guitarists.
There are many new brands, who keep on introducing new designs, and some of them are really good, but very few of them can match the offerings from Gibson.
We have spoken to a variety of artists about the instruments that they love, whether that’s a battered workhorse, a vintage beauty, or an off the peg new model, and Gibson does figure there.
Just pick your favorite one, run it past the amplifier, crank the gain on and you will hear deep and full sound.
The pickups provide big tone at any range, and some of them even have ability to pull up frequencies so that the tone sounds as if you have run it past compressors.
Gibson over the Years
The tradition of quality associated with Gibson guitars dates as far back as the late 1800s when Orville Gibson started the company with his skill and interest in the guitar.
Probably one of the keys to the success of the company then and now is its tangent for innovation. This innovation continued through economic hardship, which saw the introduction of the L-5, ES-150, electric guitar.
While the company originated as a manufacturer of mandolins and guitars, it was the design of the ES-150, the company’s first electric guitar that hailed them to the top of the list of guitar manufacturers.
The innovation in the company originated with guitarists such as Lloyd Loar and Les Paul, whose ideas were used to create some of the company’s most innovative designs.
Trivia for Guitar Players
- Gibson were the first to come up with the adjustable truss rod, inside the neck of the guitar, to give it strength. Even today, just about every guitar has an adjustable truss-rod that runs through the neck of the guitar.
- Les Paul was one of the foremost guitarists of the time. His genuine first name was Lester.
- Pertaining to Gibson’s ES range of semi-acoustic guitars, the ES initials stands for “Electric Spanish”. The term Spanish is used to separate the guitar from the Hawaiian guitars that were lap style guitars.
- Gibson Guitars introduced the cut away style in the body shape. This continues to be used in electric guitars and many acoustic guitars.
- The floating pick guard is also an innovation of Gibson.
Gibson vs Other Brands
Though Gibson is one of the biggest and one of the oldest names when it comes to guitars, it is also a fact that there are many fans of other brands such as Fender and Epiphone.
Some feel that Gibson is way over priced for the quality they provide now, and Fender provides better quality for the price. However, there are others who feel that Fender is nowhere close to a Gibson and the most expensive Epiphone isn’t as good as the cheapest Gibson.
Again, which is better is also dependent on personal choice, as the guitars can sound different.
Fender is also a big name and epiphone is fast growing brand. Many experienced musicians who have played for years, and owned and played several different brands of guitars feel that today’s Epiphones sound great and there are a lot of Gibson players who are now playing epiphones.
How Gibson Classics are Crafted
Ever wondered how Gibson guitars get made? Here’s a video that will provide you a glimpse of Gibson’s amazing facility at Nashville.
The Gibson USA factory in Nashville produces more than a couple of thousand Les Pauls, SGs, and other classic models every week. The masters at Gibson treat every guitar with extreme craft and care through each step of the guitar-building process, from wood selection to the final coat of lacquer.
Checkout this video of Gibson’s Nashville factory for an inside look at the incredible craftsmanship that goes into the making of every Gibson.
Here’s another video tour of the Gibson Memphis Guitar Factory. A city with deep musical roots, Memphis, Tennessee is a fitting place for Gibson to build their timeless hollow and semi-hollow guitars and basses. Since Gibson Memphis opened their factory doors in 2000, they’ve been crafting some of the most historically accurate reissues ever, as well as incredible new versions of classic hollowbody guitars and other instruments.
Since its initial release in the late 1950s, the Gibson ES-335 electric guitar has been beloved by blues, jazz and rock guitarists for its looks, sound, and feel. Checkout this video to see the skill and care that Gibson Memphis master luthiers put into building iconic models such as the ES-335 — and more.
Use of Exotic wood in High End Guitars
Here’s something that you should probably be aware of, considering these are expensive guitars made from some of the finest woods. And because most governments are trying to protect protect/conserve products such as wood (used for guitar) & ivory (used for pianos), you need to be clear about the rules in case you are getting a guitar in/out of the country.
Some time back, there was an article in the Wall Street Journal which mentioned that the FBI had raided Gibson factories in Memphis and Nashville, TN and confiscated several pallets of wood. They suspected the use of either restricted wood or probably the proper paper work for importation was not correctly completed. Gibson denied the accusations, but there are some issues of the Lacey act which you should be aware of. Even an accidental error in documentation can result in confiscation and/or heavy fines.
If you are the lucky owner of a 1920s Martin guitar, it may well be made, in part, of Brazilian rosewood. Cross an international border with an instrument made of that now-restricted wood, and you better have correct and complete documentation proving the age of the instrument. Otherwise, you could lose it to a zealous customs agent—not to mention face fines and prosecution.
You may also want to read this article on how the wood supply around the world is having an impact on the production of Guitars.
Like most popular musicians, even he dreamt of having his own signature Explorer for quite some time (a true Gibson model, and not a variation on the Explorer formula from a different company) and he’s closer to achieving that dream.
Hook is making all use of Gibson’s resources and the look of his guitar seems to be inspired by the gutsy M4 Sherman tanks that the American allied forces used to help topple the Nazis in World War II, suggesting that Hook wanted a guitar with a take-no-prisoners attitude.
As of now, the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival seems to be a likely venue where Hook might unleash his signature guitar.
Here’s a Video Interview of Jason Hook
At least that’s how Dave Schneider, guitarist and singer for Hanukkah-themed rock band The LeeVees, described it when his guitar—a 1965 Gibson ES-335—got jammed in an elevator by baggage handlers at a Detroit airport.
Recommended Gibson Guitars
Gibson SG Special Solid Body Electric Guitar
Best combination of features and value in Gibson’s iconic SG line-up. You still get the dynamic, slim mahogany body and hair-trigger quick neck that have made the SG legendary, but without all the non-essentials.
Gibson Les Paul Studio Solid Body Electric Guitar
Features a fat and sweet maple-and-mahogany tone from its two genuine Gibson humbucking pickups and it looks great in an ebony finish with gold hardware.
Gibson Flying V Solid Body Electric Guitar Cherry
Featuring the V-shaped Mahogany body of the original ’58 model with the rounded Mahogany neck of the ’60s model, this 1968 Flying V electric guitar is truly a classic.
Gibson Explorer Solid Body Electric Guitar Black
Straight from the mind of Jason Hook, the M-4 Sherman Explorer features a larger, rounded cutaway for comfortable playing and includes a custom hard case.
Gibson Electric Guitars
Checkout the range of electric guitars including Les Paul Standard, LPJ, ES-330 and the Les Paul Traditional.
Gibson Acoustic Guitars
Checkout the range of acoustic guitars including J-45 Standard, DR-100, J-35, J-200 Standard.
Gibson Bass Guitars
Checkout the range of bass guitars here.
Learn & Master Guitar Review
The Learn & Master Guitar is one of the most comprehensive and popular guitar learning product out there.
Here’s a Gibson Les Paul Studio 50’s Tribute Video:
Choosing a Guitar
There is no doubt that this is one of the greatest brands; a great guitar for literally any collection. It’s classic looks, powerfully versatile sounds, and handsome top all add up to one top notch guitar.
Lot of you might be interested in playing metal so in that case you would need something that has a much better and hotter pickup. If you are a metal player, then you should not buy something which isn’t really fit for playing metal. However, even if you choose an average guitar, you can invest in good pickups that can make it sound like a very good guitar for metal playing.
There is no doubt that Gibson guitars are fantastic guitars and in the hands of a versatile guitar player, you can hear the very amazing tones.