“Gibson vs Fender” Guitars is a hot topic on most Guitar forums, and most users do seem to have clear favorites when it comes to Strat vs Les Paul
Someone who is totally new to guitars might think what is this fuss all about? After all, both manufacture good guitars, and then you add nice effects and a good amp, and you will get the best sound out of your guitar. And that is true to some extent!
Table of Contents
Product Range, Tone & Construction
Gibson has it’s famous Les Paul, SG, Flying V, Explorer, Firebird, Electric Spanish (ES), and the Melody Maker.
Fender has Stratocaster and the Telecaster, classics of older models such as Jaguar and Jazzmaster, bass line consisting mainly of Precision and Jazz basses.
Both have a custom shop, as well as offers derivatives of most models.
Gibson has a mellower tone (humbucker tone), clearly exemplified in the Les Paul. They have a warmer, crunchier (especially when distorted) tone.
Fender’s has the famous bell-like tone (single coil pickup) that is commonly associated with the Stratocaster.
Wood / Build Quality
Gibson uses mainly mahogany, which is a denser wood, offering darker tone and thick, warm, crunchy sound.
Fender most commonly uses ash and alder, both of which give a medium, slightly bright tone.
Many also feel that the bridge is a bit high on the Gibsons, compared to the fender.
Many seem to have a preference for Fender when it comes to basses.
Fender offers originality as many argue that the EB and Thunderbird Gibson basses were carbon copies of their 6-string brothers (SG & Firebird).
When it comes to play-ability, many prefer Fender as they are easy to play on the fretboard.
What Style of Music You Prefer?
There are many who consider fender as a “beginners guitar”, primarily because of its easy playability, ease of bending, and the tone it offers. So Gibsons may look cooler but fenders are easier to play!
Though they many may like the fenders more, many also long for a Gibson because of its unique sound that fits nicely in certain situations.
For those coming from a dense rock n’ roll background, you’ll most likely like the sound from a Gibson over the Fender. Why? Because the grunt and quality of distortion can only come from the humbuckers.
Its also been observed that several rock guitarist’s more often move from fender to gibson than the vice versa (eg. Jimmy Page, The Edge, Jeff Beck), most likely searching for that Gibson rock n’ roll tone.
Both are Extremely Good
It is also a fact that almost every experienced, respectable guitar player will own both, a Gibson Les Paul and a Strat or a Tele, especially if they play more of Rock, Pop or Blues.
Things are a bit different when it comes to Jazz, Metal and Classical style.
However, even when it comes to Metal, I’ve seen guitarists using Gibson/Fender, albeit a modified version. Metal requires really high gain and you won’t be able to do that with a Gibson or Fender, unless you modify the pickups.
Personal Preferences Do Exists
Personal preferences, however, do exist and that is because of the tone quality that they produce. Some may prefer Gibson for its humbucker sound with mahogany sustain, whereas if you prefer a smooth single coil tone then you’d most probably pick up a fender.
Many also feel that the Stock Gibsons have a bigger sound, but the fenders when modified are hands down better. Besides, Gibsons can be expensive, and don’t have a great lefty range.
Your choice may also depend on what your favorite bands / heroes / idols play!