What if Gibson go under?

nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 891Member
I’m sure you’ve all heard about Gibons’s financial woes.

But what do you think this would mean for the guitar industry? Would this be good for Fender, even though their products are very different, or would companies likes Ibanez, ESP and Schecter benefit?
I’m sure the price of second hand Gibsons would go through the roof.


  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,115Member
    If they do "go under", then I can't believe the brand won't be re-born in some way after a while - I would assume company assets, including the brand name, would be sold off, and anyone who aquires rights to the name will want to use it. So we might get a new version of Gibson - questionable as to how strong the links would be to the previous company, but that would be interesting, and perhaps lead to good things.

    I've heard that Fender have their own finance issues, if less severe than Gibson's. I've said before that I've never owned a Gibson - now I think about it, I've never owned a Fender either... :D All my "Fenders" are partscasters I put together myself. But yes, I can't imagine that Gibson being out of the picture wouldn't benefit other guitar companies, and they might even start making models aimed specifically at filling the gap.

    For me, the Gibsons models I lust after, if there are any, are probably those of the 60s, and perhaps earlier. If I had the cash to spare (I don't!) I could find a place for a mid-60s 335, also a nice late 50s/early 60s archtop. I think what the company hasn't done recently for me, is offer something new, at a friendlier price, that I felt credibly offered the same mystique and magic as those earlier era instruments. And I've also felt that they were failing to innovate and come up with the odd lovely new design - too many daft variations on the Les Paul perhaps. But just one person's opinion anyhow... :)
  • denisdenis Posts: 5Member
    then hopefully their dreadful ceo would jump off a high building and the workers unite for buyout
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 891Member
    Good points megi. It’s a big valuable name that someone is bound to snap up for a song (literally)(kind of). There are enough people who just have to have a Gibson and nothing else would do that there is enough of a market , but I don’t know enough about economics to say if the problems are market driven or due to mismanagement. Perhaps someone is already cashing in on the uncertainty.
    It’s possible that the attempts at innovation have hurt the company as it seems more people whine about the robo tuners and other improvements than anything else. I find it really interesting that Rickenbacker havent changed a thing in decades.
    Me, I’d rather have a Tokai or Burny.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,088Member
    edited February 25
    In this locality they're losing the product placement sweet spots that Taylor are taking in the acoustic rooms.

    Gibson acoustics are relegated to the Chinese wall. So too are Martin for that matter. I saw the same in London when I was there recently.

    The figuring and marquetry of the Taylors is exquisite but I've never really been impressed by them as regards their character.

    Shame. I still think the world of the J45 and most new ones have mojo, but they just cannot get that price down bearing in mind its simplicity and that it's meant to be an austerity instrument. I haven't been in Mansons since they made this move and stopped selling vintage guitars of all brands.

    There's not much room in the top spot and bags of competition below it.

    I'm with Megi that someone will step in, but like the Brasher boots I bought recently - the manufacture will be outsourced on the quiet and what you'll get will be, in effect, a licenced fake.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,088Member
    "Me, I’d rather have a Tokai or Burny."

    If you tried a Vintage (JHS) Les Paul copy I bet you would not resist pulling the trigger.

    A beautiful instrument at a silly price.
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 891Member
    You’re right about Taylor. They make fantastic instruments and certainly get a lot of press about their new ideas. No one can touch em! A while ago I played just about every acoustic brand out there and elected Taylor my overall favourite. Exquisite instruments, and not badly priced for what they are.

    Yea? I should look out for one. I’m looking (kind of) for a subtle lemon burst, 59 style that isn’t a relic. The Kossoff Paul is The one for me!
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,088Member

    Yup. I can see that.
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,312Member
    I notice that Henry J, the CEO, is now blaming retail stores for Gibson's woes.

    The new chief financial officer leaving after less than a year in the job is not a positive sign and won't help any refinancing deal.

    But like Graham says, it's likely the brand will be reborn in some way if the "worst" happens, and suppliers and creditors to Gibson will take a big hit.

    There does seem to have been a long slow decline in the brand, and their inadequate quality control, and the constant churning out of new models every year that are no better and often worse than what went before have cast a pall on the brand.

    I made the mistake of buying a new Gibson electric a few years back, supposedly as a special treat, and when I had the opportunity of playing it for a length of time I found it was horribly substandard - I really should have paid more attention to the many negative stories online. Sold it at a hefty loss and I'm not inclined to ever buy a Gibson again, or even try one.

    Don't get me onto the subject of an alleged quality manufacturer having a PCB for electronics on pretty pricey guitars. Not a PCB designed to give the user a better range of sounds or on the fly wiring changes, but just a cost cutting exercise to avoid paying wages to a guy with a soldering iron.

    The recent big hike in prices and the approaching austerity that will accompany retirement in a couple of years or so means I can't go to that Gibson sort of price range anyway, but even if I could afford it .... no thanks.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,088Member
    edited February 26

    There are others in the V100 range. The video is worth watching simply because it's a good lesson in doing a video on guitars. The guy nails it. Last time I saw one it was about 300 smackers and was better looking than most of the Gibsons.

    The question being, why buy a Gibson when there are brands like this around ?

    This is what they're up against.
  • ESBlondeESBlonde Posts: 893Member
    The Gibson and copies thing goes on and on.

    If you have to have the badge then only a Gibson will do, but I also think there is something to the sound of them that the other makers can't seem to get. Not every single example of course and there are exceptions that prove every rule. I have a 2006 Memphis made 335 and it had quality issues like orange peel finish and scratches in the fingerboard. But once sorted it became more than the sum of it's parts in terms of sound.
    Now I have an Aria PE1000 and it simply pi55es all over the gibson in terms of playability, tuning stability and getting the job done, but the sound isn't quite classic although it's very usable.
    I remember visiting a dealer some years ago to try a lemon drop when vintage were getting a lot of press attention. I played it for about 30 minutes and frankly it was just a budget guitar with no characture or playing comfort. It could be made to play better and stay in tune but the effort wasn't worth it to me for an also ran guitar.
    I also bought my oldest son an Epiphone 56 goldtop some years ago, it was good out of the box and a little fettle made it super playable. When he came to selling it I was even tempted to buy it just for that lovely sound and playability. So I'm not against budet guitars, I just think you have to evaluate each example of any guitar yourself and make your own mind up.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,088Member
    I was speaking a bit out of turn, I suppose. I don't play electric.

    My Sigma J45 is pretty close - enough for me to be satisfied not to get a real one and it is this deferment of gratification (along with rumours of a drop in quality) which I think is hitting Gibson.

    I wonder if there is a drop-off of newly retired pensioners getting lump sums, what with pension collapses and also Bank of Mum and Dad having to be used to get offspring on the property ladder.

    I imagine so many Gibson purchases are retirement treats to self after many years of graft.

  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,312Member
    True that an appraisal on a guitar has to be made on each example of an instrument. I have found that with Vintage it's highly advisable to get one from somewhere that does a good setup.

    Funnily enough the Vintage Lemon Drop I ended up with, in contrast to ESB's story above, turned out to be the most creatively inspiring electric guitar I ever had. Better than a lovely Japanese Tokai Les Paul Custom and a less than lovely Gibson P90 SG. Quite a long time ago I had a used Gibson SG and that was very good indeed and so much better than the more recent SG disaster. I did over the years have two different Vintage brand Telecasters but neither "took", so it's not a label affection or hatred for either.

    It is a problem for the likes of Gibson and Fender that generally the quality of the lower priced guitars is way higher than used to be the case. I'm sure Kevin is right too about the poor pension fund performances leading to less retirement presents of Gibsons. I know that applies to my pension fund pittance.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,088Member
    edited February 27
    How do you cross out ?
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,088Member
    Ah. I see !
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,312Member
    It's a useful device to highlight what you really mean a bit better! :smile:
  • Derek_RDerek_R Posts: 1,684Member
    Never owned a Gibson, though I borrowed a cherry red 335 one summer to do some rock'n'roll gigs and really didn't like it all - went back to my Tele and Strat. But there are a couple of Gibsons I fancy - like Kevin, I'm a J45 fan, and I also fancy an SG. Plus a nice arch-top... But the reality is I don't need any, I already have too many guitars, and (maybe a resonator aside) I'm not sure why I'd be in the guitar market in the future unless I break an existing one or one wears out.

    I have heard it's easier to bend strings on Gibsons, though!
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,088Member
    edited March 1
    Yes. Well there's the issue of personal restraint wife won't let me have one or being environmentally conscientious brassic and thinking of the kid's university education wanting to get the b****rs off my hands and independent.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,088Member
    edited March 5

    An interesting take in this article "Gibson's greatest competitor is Gibson" ie pre troubles Gibsons manufactured before legal wrangles and the distraction that was auto tuners.

    Also a guitar manufacturer given a mention in that link made me look up a Vagina.

  • LesterLester Posts: 1,618Member, Moderator
    A nice find, Megi, well done!

    The last part makes complete sense, that a bankruptcy buyout means the management, quality and everything else currently dissapointing about the brand can be scrapped and the Gibson name can get a clean start.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,088Member
    If not made in the US will they still be Gibson ?
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,115Member

    If not made in the US will they still be Gibson ?

    It may end up that they are still made in the US, although my guess is some of the manufacture, at least, would move elsewhere. But still Gibson is a good question - that will be down to how us guitarist feel about it I suppose. Personally, I think if the re-launched brand has the quality, and is able to supply me with a guitar which looks, plays, and sounds like my idea of what a Gibson should be, at a reasonable price, then I'd be happy - a big "if" of course. How much resemblance does the current operation have to the company that made the golden era Gibsons? - perhaps not much, other than the US manufacture. I don't think that bothers me that much really.

    But that's just me! :)
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,115Member
    Lester said:

    A nice find, Megi, well done!

    The last part makes complete sense, that a bankruptcy buyout means the management, quality and everything else currently dissapointing about the brand can be scrapped and the Gibson name can get a clean start.

    Cheers - sad of course that the current management has caused much of the problem, and there is a cost to bankruptcy buyouts like this - creditors and investors lose their money, employees may lose their jobs. Would not want to suggest it's all good.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,088Member
    edited March 13
    I feel the company needs to be reduced to a relatively few top end guitars only. Then they can charge big money.

    Otherwise scrap it.

    There seems little point to me in outsourcing anything and then using the same brand name on the headstock - when does it become licensed fakery ? (Like my Chinese produced Brashers that I didn't know about until I inquired as to why they were killing my feet on walks.)

    The point of buying a Gibson (one of them) is buying a little bit of America.

    I'm perfectly happy to buy Chinese brands that don't purport to be anything else.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,115Member
    Thought experiment - you get to try 2 Gibson J45's out - both look, feel and sound right, both lovely instruments. Later you are told one of them isn't US made. So just the knowledge of it being non US made stops it being a Gibson?

    Only clarifying, I should add - I can and do respect your view. I wonder if they might go for part US manufacture - final assembly and finishing in the US maybe? Or perhaps they'll do what you suggest and go for relaunching as a pure high end US made brand, but with better management and quality control etc. - somehow, I suspect the investment group will be after bigger sales figures, and a bigger return though.
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,312Member
    I suppose I have the luxury of not being too concerned about whether Gibson exists - never having tried a USA made acoustic guitar and being bowled over by it.
    Whether Gibson, Martin, Taylor ........

    The difficulties of competing in a highly competitive and cost cutting market has maybe gone some way to devaluing the USA brand, as they need to cut some corners and get rid of skilled workmanship to keep the price gap down as far as possible.

    They already have the non USA Epiphone brand - mainly Chinese builds I believe. So I'm not sure what they have to gain by having a Gibson non USA brand too.

    As regards bigger sales figures they already seem to be producing a whole load of new updated models every year particularly in the electric guitar range. Taking a leaf out of Apple's book with a new version of iPhone every 2 minutes! They seem to have been in danger of over saturation I feel.

    If they go for mainly top end they'll need to get the act together on quality, and a lot of players have lost trust in this regard. Much easier to lose that trust than get it back.
  • LesterLester Posts: 1,618Member, Moderator
    With brands like Tokai, Burny, Epiphone, Faith and PRS Korean-made guitars we are used to increasingly higher quality from far eastern manufacturers. The only thing missing is mojo, the invisible thing that bumps the price up and makes the owner feel that spending more was a better decision.
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 891Member
    In the future everything will be made in China. The future is now. I don’t have a problem where things are made as long as the quality is there. Jobs change and people move on to other areas of employment.
    Lester said:

    With brands like Tokai, Burny, Epiphone, Faith and PRS Korean-made guitars we are used to increasingly higher quality from far eastern manufacturers. The only thing missing is mojo, the invisible thing that bumps the price up and makes the owner feel that spending more was a better decision.

    Bring your own mojo. :)
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,088Member
    Megi - It's not what I think about the USA/China guitar, it's what the market thinks and you can guarantee it will put a premium on one made in the USA.
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