If one brand is synonymous with the evolution of Rock n Roll and all the other genres that have followed, it’s Gibson. Right from the legendary Les Paul made by the man himself, the Gibson Les Paul was the first popular solid body guitar in existence. I’m sure you’ve seen a Gibson in your time. Still curious? Gibson’s have been played by the likes of Jimmy Page, Slash, Joe Bannamasa, Joe Perry, Zakk Wylde, B.B. King, Metallica, Angus Young, Ace Frehley, Tonni Iommi – the list goes on and on. The Les Paul and Gibson have become directly linked to rockstar success and legend, but it seems like the modern era has not faired well with the company. In shocking news, they filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy on Tuesday. Although recent reports were coming in that Gibson was facing issues, no one had any idea it was this bad. Here’s all the details on the same!
A LEGACY TO LIVE BY
Gibson is easily one of the most sold guitars in existence. Considering the huge array of famous artists they have, it’s no surprise they’ve reached the Valhalla of guitar sales. Guitars such as the 59′ Les Paul still fetch anywhere from 20,000 to 150-200,000 dollars in auctions. The legends of the guitars are unparalleled, passing from one great guitar player to another and so on. They have been known classically for their Les Paul and SG designs. As time went on, they introduced new shapes and guitars to meet with modern day requirements such as the Explorer and the Firebird. We also saw the next series of innovation when they introduced guitars that would tune by themselves! These were called the Robot Guitar Tuners and all their flagship models started coming with the same technology. It’s astonishing that every year, they sell about 140-150,000 guitars across more than 80 countries, and more than 40% of these purchases are for Guitars above the range of 2000 dollars!
A ROCKY ROAD
In the last 5-7 years, the Guitar business has seen some immense innovation. Custom Guitar Brands such as Keisel, Strandberg, Aristides, Mayones etc. are producing high quality instruments that are handmade and are providing the customer with an insane amount of custom options. At the same time, competitors such as Fender and Paul Reed Smith have continuously diversified their range to meet with the changing demands of the industry. Recent guitars that Gibson have put out and now subsequently cancelled looked absolutely horrible. But what might be considered as the biggest issue that Gibson has been facing in recent years is that of quality control. For all American made instruments, there have been countless stories online of Guitars that cost more than 2000/3000 dollars arriving with dents, unfinished paints, screwed electronic wiring etc., something you would never expect from a Custom Shop in America. There have been increasing number of incidents where veteran luthiers have been shown the door, and it seems that the current CEO has been able to put a business spin on everything.
THE TOOTH IN THE NAIL
In a recent interview, the CEO of Gibson Guitars finally let people know that the company was and had been in serious amounts of debt due to the Gibson Lifestyle venture he put crazy amount of money into. Gibson Lifestyle? Seriously? Does anyone really want to buy a pair of Gibson jeans, or socks, or furniture? They eventually filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 yesterday, stating that they were anywhere from 100 to 500 million dollars in debt. 500 Million dollars? ARE YOU SERIOUS?
It will be very interesting to see what happens to this. Many people are claiming that the Guitar as an instrument is dead and has lost it’s lack and lustre. I disagree to that. Whilst Gibson is a household name and the holy grail of all guitar playing, it’s safe to say that they haven’t been able to adapt themselves well to the modern day guitar player. Kids today want exciting shapes, a vast array of options and colors and all of this in an affordable package. And in a situation where a customer is spending almost half of their life’s savings, they want to make sure that they’re getting an instrument that is world class, not something that hasn’t been taken care of properly and has come off the shelf all damaged and dented.