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Gibson Guitar Corporation
Type Private
Founded October 11, 1902 [1]
Founder(s) Orville Gibson
Headquarters Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Area served Global
Key people Orville Gibson, Ted McCarty, Les Paul, Seth Lover
Industry Musical instruments
Subsidiaries Aeolian, Baldwin, Chickering, Electar, Epiphone, Garrison, Gibson Amphitheatre, Hamilton, Kramer, Maestro, MaGIC, Slingerland, Steinberger, Tobias, Valley Arts Guitar, Wurlitzer
Website Gibson.com

The Gibson Guitar Corporation, of Nashville, Tennessee, USA, is a manufacturer of acoustic and electric guitars. Gibson also owns and makes guitars under such brands as Epiphone, Kramer, Valley Arts, Tobias, Steinberger, and Kalamazoo. In addition to guitars, the company makes pianos through its Baldwin unit, Slingerland drums, as well as many accessory items. Company founder Orville Gibson made mandolins in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in the late 1890s. He invented archtop guitars by using the same type of carved, arched tops found on violins. By the 1930s, the company was also making flattop acoustic guitars, as well as the first commercially available hollow-body electric guitars, which were used and popularized by Charlie Christian. In the early 1950s, Gibson introduced its first solid-body electric guitar and its most popular guitar to date—the Les Paul. After being bought by the Norlin corporation in the late 1960s Gibson's quality and fortunes took a steep decline until early 1986, when the company was rescued by its present owners. Gibson Guitar is a privately held corporation (company stock is not publicly traded on a stock exchange), owned by chief executive officer Henry Juszkiewicz and president David H. (Dave) Berryman.

Contents

History

Orville Gibson (born 1856, Chateaugay, New York) started making mandolins in Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States. The mandolins were distinctive in that they featured a carved, arched solid wood top and back and bent wood sides. Prior to this, mandolins had a flat solid wood top and a bowl-like back (similar to a lute) made of multiple strips of wood. These bowl-back mandolins were very fragile and unstable. Disdainful of the shape, Orville Gibson characterized them as "potato bugs". Gibson's innovation made a distinctive, darker-sounding mandolin that was easier to manufacture in large numbers. Orville Gibson's mandolin design, with its single-pieced carved sides and a single-pieced neck, was patented in 1898; it would be the only innovation he patented. Orville Gibson died in 1918 from a tumor in his left scrotum.[2]

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1902–1950

In 1880 Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co, Ltd. was incorporated to market the instruments. Initially, the company produced only Orville Gibson's original designs. Aware of changing trends, the company hired designer Lloyd Loar in 1919 to create newer instruments. During the 1920s Gibson was responsible for many innovations in guitar and mandolin design. In 1922, the Gibson F5 mandolin model was introduced. That particular model later became known as the ultimate bluegrass mandolin. Gibson soon became the leading manufacturer of archtop guitars, particularly the L-5 model, also a Loar design. Loar left the company in 1924.[3]

In the 1930s, Gibson began exploring the concept of an electric guitar. In 1936 they introduced their first "Electric Spanish" model, the ES-150. Other companies were producing electric guitars but the Gibson is generally recognized as the first commercially successful electric guitar. Other instruments were also "electrified"; such as steel guitars, banjos and mandolins.

During World War II, instrument manufacturing basically stopped at Gibson due to shortages of wood and metal. Only a few instruments were made with whatever parts were at hand. Gibson did war production instead, making wood parts for various military needs. Such shortages continued for a few years after the war and the only notable change occurred in 1946 when the Gibson name on the instrument headstock changed from a cursive script to the block style used to this day. This is seen at the head of the information block at top.

The ES-175 was introduced in 1949. The model has seen some variations over the years but it is still in production.

1996 Gibson Les Paul Studio Limited Edition Gem Series Topaz

Gibson and Ted McCarty

In 1948, Gibson hired music industry veteran, Ted McCarty. He was promoted to company president in 1950. During his tenure (1950–1966), Gibson greatly expanded and diversified its line of instruments. The first notable addition was the "Les Paul" guitar. McCarty was well aware of the strong sales of the Fender Telecaster. In 1950, Gibson decided to make a solid-body guitar of its own according to its own design philosophy . This, despite the fact many other guitar manufacturers were contemptuous of the concept of a solid-body guitar. Designed by the guitarist Les Paul, the first solid body guitar, called the "Les Paul", was released in 1952. The "Les Paul" was offered in several models, including the Custom, the Standard, the Special and the Junior.[4]

In the mid-50s, the Thinline series was produced. Many guitarists did not like the bulk of a full size archtop and wanted a thinner guitar. The first to be produced was the Byrdland. The first Byrdlands were slim, custom built, L-5 models for guitarists Billy Byrd and Hank Garland. Later, a shorter neck was added. Other guitarists who tried Gibson samples liked the idea and the model went into production. Other models such as the ES-350T and the ES-225T were introduced as less costly alternatives.[5]

In 1958, Gibson introduced the ES-335T model. Similar in size to the hollow-body Thinlines, the ES-335 family had a solid center giving the string tone a longer sustain.

In the late 50s, McCarty was aware the Gibson was perceived as a "conservative" company, generally making traditionally shaped instruments. He decided to change that. In 1958, Gibson produced two new designs; the eccentrically-shaped Explorer and Flying V. Surprisingly, these "modernistic" guitars did not sell initially. It was only in the late 60s and early 70s when the two guitars were reintroduced to the market that they sold very well. The Firebird, in the early 60s, was a reprise of the modernistic idea; though less extreme.

In the 1950s, Gibson also produced the Tune-o-matic bridge system and its version of the humbucking pickup.

In 1961 the body design of the "Les Paul" was changed, due to the demand for a double-cutaway body design.[6] Les Paul did not care for the new body style and let his endorsement lapse, and the new body design then became known as the SG (for "solid guitar"). The "Les Paul" returned to the Gibson catalogue in 1968 due to the influence of players such as Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Peter Green. Both the "Les Paul" and the SG later became very popular with hard rock and heavy metal guitarists; Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, the twin-lead line-up of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson of Thin Lizzy, Duane Allman, Slash of Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver, and Ace Frehley of Kiss are known for their preference for a Les Paul. Pete Townshend of The Who, Angus Young of AC/DC, Frank Zappa of Mothers of Invention, Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden, Robby Krieger of The Doors and Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, and Joe Solo are some of the better-known SG players.

The 70s to today

Between 1974 and 1984 production of Gibson guitars was shifted from Kalamazoo to Nashville, Tennessee. The Gibson Guitar Corp. was within three months of going out of business before it was bought by Henry E. Juszkiewicz, David H. Berryman, and Gary A. Zebrowski in January 1986.[7] The survival and success of Gibson today is largely attributed to this change in ownership. Currently, Juszkiewicz stands as CEO and Berryman as president of the company. More recently new production plants have been opened in Southern and rural areas, such as Memphis, Tennessee as well as Bozeman, Montana. The Memphis facility is used for semi-hollow and custom shop instruments, while the Bozeman facility is dedicated to acoustic instruments.

In 1994, Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz first heard about the SmartWood program while attending the Rainforest Alliance’s annual gala concert. He reasoned that, by establishing relationships with environmentally farsighted operations, Gibson could secure a sustainable timber supply, thereby ensuring its guitar building future.

Four years later (1998), Gibson had revealed the fruits of those relationships with the Les Paul SmartWood Exotics[8]. The new line consisted of six guitars featuring tops fashioned from unusual, "smartly" harvested tropical woods. Each guitar listed for $1299 new, and in the spirit of philanthropy, Gibson donated a portion of the profits from the SmartWood guitar sales to the Rainforest Alliance.

Today, one model of Gibson guitars (Robot Guitar) can tune itself in less than 10 seconds using robotic technology developed by Gibson and Tronical GmbH.[9][10] While the product was advertised in the American—United States—popular press as a "world's first" similar—some external—systems have been in use for decades for example to tune guitars made by Fender Musical Instruments Corporation and Washburn Guitars.

Since 2007 the Gibson Guitar Corporation has teamed up with Music Saves Lives and donated several guitars to be designed by various artists (Mike Onclay, Ryan Seaman, Cory Burke, Josh Kenyon, Colby Nichols, Andrew Holder, Sara Antoinette Martin), signed by bands (Bad Religion, Pennywise, Coheed and Cambria, Reel Big Fish, NoFx, Bouncing Souls, Thrice, Katy Perry, Meg and Dia, Jacks Mannequin) and then auctioned off to support the non-profit.

In mid 2009 after multiple layoffs that reduced gibsons workforce by nearly 20% [11], rumors swirled around the music industry that Peavey was in talks to buy Gibson[12]. The rumors have since been denied by Henry Juszkiewicz,[13] but Gibson continues to be affected by the 2009 economic downturn, as well as customer complaints[14], many questionable business practices, and failures of many new models including the Darkfire[15], Reverse V, and many others.

In January 2010, Gibson released the Keb' Mo' Bluesmaster acoustic-electric guitar in honor of the 3-time grammy winner.[16]

Subsidiary companies

A Gibson Invader. The Invader was manufactured during the 1980's and is now discontinued.

Many other instrument manufacturers are owned by Gibson including Kramer, Steinberger, Tobias and Valley Arts Guitar.[17] It is now a brand used by Gibson-Baldwin Musical Education, which sells various student guitars under different brand names. In 2007, Gibson purchased Canadian guitar manufacturer Garrison Guitars;[18] as of 2009, the acoustic guitars from the Gibson Songmaker Series are manufactured in the old Garrison plant in St. John's, Newfoundland.[19]

Heritage Guitars

Another related company is Heritage Guitars—an independent guitar company founded by former Gibson employees after Gibson's relocation from Kalamazoo to Nashville. The company set up their factory in Gibson's former Kalamazoo premises, and manufactures handmade guitars that are very similar to the Gibson originals.

Unauthorized copies

On multiple occasions, Gibson has sought legal action against other guitar manufacturers who implement similar body styles in their designs. The first such action was against Ibanez, which had fabricated near-identical (in looks) copies of the Les Paul. This 1977 lawsuit was not over Ibanez's copy of the Les Paul's body shape, but instead for their use of Gibson's 'open book' headstock shape (even though Ibanez had redesigned their headstock to be a near-identical copy of a Guild headstock in 1976). More recently, Gibson sued PRS Guitars, forcing them to stop making their Singlecut model, which is much less similar to the Les Paul in appearance. The lawsuit against PRS was unsuccessful, however. In 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the lower court decision and ordered the dismissal of Gibson's suit against PRS. The decision also immediately vacated the injunction prohibiting the sale and production of PRS’s Singlecut Guitar. Paul Reed Smith Guitars announced that it would immediately resume production of its Singlecut guitars. Guild is another brand that made copies of Gibsons. Aside from the above-mentioned companies, there have been countless others producing unofficial Les Paul copies, including among others Tokai, Stellar and new-comer Myaxe, a company based in Changle, China. Manufacturers of the Les Paul clones refuse to call their guitars copies such as in the case of Myaxe [20], which says theirs were an innovation of the solid bodies. Myaxe do not say what these innovations were.

Forgeries can generally be identified quite easily upon close inspection. The most prominent identifier pertaining to Chinese Gibson Les Paul forgeries is in the truss rod cover being affixed to the headstock of the forged guitar with three screws whereas an authentic Gibson guitar employs two.

Bluegrass

Gibson Showcase, Opry Mills Mall. Nashville, TN

All of Gibson's American made bluegrass instruments (such as the banjo, mandolin and the Dobro) are manufactured at the "Gibson Showcase" at Opry Mills Mall in Nashville. The factory is open to the public and also houses a store selling the full line of Gibson products. The adjacent Gibson Showcase live music venue and restaurant was a colossal failure and sits empty and unused at Opry Mills Mall since 2007.

Gibson serial numbers

In 1977, Gibson standardized the serial number system that is still in use today. An eight digit (or 9 digit after July 2005) number on the back shows the date on which the instrument was produced, where it was produced and its order of production that day (e.g. first instrument stamped that day, second, third, fourth etc). The serial numbers are deciphered using the following system:

YDDDYRRR

YY is the production year

DDD is the day of the year the guitar was stamped

RRR is the production order/plant designation number

Production order/plant designation numbers numbers are as follows:

001-499 Kalamazoo, Michigan (1975-1984)

500-999 Nashville, Tennessee (1975-1990)

001-299 Bozeman, Montana (after 1989)

300-999 Nashville, Tennessee (after 1990)

For example, the serial number 90992487 means that the instrument was produced on the 99th day of 1992 (Wednesday 8 April) in Nashville, TN and that it was the 487th instrument stamped that day.

In July 2005 Gibson introduced a 9 digit serial number system. The system is largely the same as the 8 digit system used before, however the 6th digit now represents the batch number. The first 5 and last 3 digits remain the same.

An exception is the year 1994, Gibson's Centennial Year: Many 1994 serial numbers start with "94", followed by a 6-digit production number.

Instruments

Electric guitars

Gibson is especially well known for their electric guitars—solidbody models like the Les Paul, the SG, the Flying V, the Explorer and the Firebird; hollowbody models like the ES-175 and the ES-335; as well as high-end archtops such as the L-5 and the Citation.

Acoustic guitars

Gibson's acoustic guitars are widely celebrated around the world and used by many professional musicians; among them are the J-200, the J-45, the Hummingbird, the Dove, and the L-00.

Bass guitars

Despite being such a revered six-string guitar manufacturer, Gibson has had much success from their line of bass models such the Thunderbird (based on the Firebird), the EB-0 and EB-3 (based on the SG), the Ripper, and the Grabber, both first manufactured in the 1970s.

Artists who use Gibson instruments

Recent criticism and controversy

In recent years, there have been outcries from former employees regarding CEO Juszkiewicz and his management methods,[21] as well as customer complaints regarding poor quality of brand new instruments, including Gibson's newest model, Dark Fire. [22] There is a significant "underground" consensus that the general tone of discontent within the company could be affecting the quality of the product.

November 17, 2009 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Raid

The Nashville-based guitar manufacturer is being investigated for violating the Lacey Act, a key piece of environmental law, for importing endangered species of rosewood from Madagascar lemur preserves. Federal authorities seized an unknown quantity of alleged endangered and illegal rare wood purchased by Gibson which was stored at the company's factory. [23] Until the investigation has been concluded, Henry E. Juszkiewicz, CEO and Chairman of Gibson Guitar Corporation, has taken a leave of absence as a board member of the Rainforest Alliance. The Rainforest Alliance has issued an official statement on the matter.

However, according to later updates, no arrests have been made. Authorities were unable to confirm whether any items from Gibson's plant were seized.

See also

References

  1. ^ Happy 100th, Gibson Company. Retrieved December 9, 2008.
  2. ^ Electric Guitars, An Illustrated Encyclopedia. London, Backbeat Books, 2000.
  3. ^ Wheeler, Tom. American Guitars. HarperCollins. 1992.pp 100-1 ISBN 0-06-273154-8
  4. ^ Hembry, Gil;Gibson Guitars: Ted McCarty's Golden Era 1948-1966; GH Books; Austin, TX; 2007. p 74-85.
  5. ^ Duchossoir, Andre. Gibson Electrics:The Classic Years. Hal Leonard Corp. 1998 pp 55-62
  6. ^ Hembry, Gil;Gibson Guitars: Ted McCarty's Golden Era 1948-1966; GH Books; Austin, TX; 2007. p 110.
  7. ^ Hembry, Gil;Gibson Guitars: Ted McCarty's Golden Era 1948-1966; GH Books; Austin, TX; 2007. p 306.
  8. ^ Les Paul SmartWood Exotics
  9. ^ Reader, Ruth (29 January 2008). "Gibson Guitar Releases New Self-Tuning Guitar". VOA News (Voice of America). http://voanews.com/english/archive/2008-01/2008-01-29-voa39.cfm. Retrieved 2 January 2009.  
  10. ^ Yuri Kageyama (The Associated Press) (December 3, 2007). "World's first robot guitar takes care of the tuning". Seattle Times. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2004051225_guitar04.html. Retrieved 2007-12-04.  
  11. ^ http://www.nashvillepost.com/news/2009/3/23/sources_gibson_adds_to_layoff_tally
  12. ^ http://www.solidcables.com/wordpress/?p=67
  13. ^ http://www.mi-pro.co.uk/news/30563/Henry-Juszkiewicz-responds
  14. ^ http://www.bbb.org/nashville/business-reviews/wholesale-musical-instrument-manufacturers/gibson-guitar-corporation-in-nashville-tn-12398
  15. ^ http://www.guitarvibe.com/2009/01/gibson-dark-fire-software-glitch.html
  16. ^ Fretbase, Gibson Releases Keb' Mo' Bluesmaster Acoustic-Electric Guitar
  17. ^ Gibson Family of products
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ [2]
  20. ^ www.myaxeonline.com
  21. ^ http://www.gearwire.com/gibson-lowestrankedemployer.html
  22. ^ http://www.guitarvibe.com/2009/01/gibson-dark-fire-software-glitch.html
  23. ^ http://www.nashvillepost.com/news/2009/11/17/gibson_guitars_raided_by_fbi

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

There's more than one place called Gibson:

United States of America

  • Gibson (Louisiana)
  • Gibson (Mississippi)
  • Gibson (Tennessee)
  • Gibson (Wisconsin)
  • Gibson County (Indiana)
  • Gibson County (Tennessee)

See also:

This article is a disambiguation page. If you arrived here by following a link from another page you can help by correcting it, so that it points to the appropriate disambiguated page.

Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

Proper noun

Singular
Gibson

Plural
-

Gibson

  1. An English and Scottish patronymic surname, from Gibb.
  2. A manufacturer of acoustic and electric guitars.

Noun

Singular
Gibson

Plural
Gibsons

Gibson (plural Gibsons)

  1. A cocktail; a dry martini with a small white onion.
  2. A hacker or crackers primary target during a malicious computer hack. The Gibson is usually the most important system in a network.

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