The Gibson Brand May Be in Trouble-Here’s 3 Reasons Why

Gibson Brand

The Gibson Brand name has been around for 121 years, officially. But myopic views, lawsuits, and lifestyle appointments may be running the name into the ground. Today we look at 3 reasons why Gibson needs to change.


The Gibson Brand: An American Heritage

It seems like the Gibson brand is almost always in the news for one reason or another. Whether it is crazy lawsuits, rough QC, changing CEO and management, or the attempt to be a “lifestyle” brand… Gibson makes the headlines. All kinds of signs point to Gibson being in trouble, but how did we get here? How bad is it?

I have fond memories when it comes to the Gibson Brand of guitars. The Gibson Les Paul was probably the first guitar I ever really connected with as a player. I am right at the tail end of Gen X when it comes to age, and I remember seeing Slash play his Les Paul on MTV. It changed everything for me.

I couldn’t get enough of guitar in general, even before I ever laid hands on one. Guitar was this mystical entity that I became obsessed with at an early age. I was sure that I was going to play guitar in a band, and I was right! But, I knew what a “Fender Stratocaster” and a “Gibson Les Paul” was before I ever owned one.

Gibson Guitars is part of the cultural Zeitgeist now, an absolute icon of a brand. People who have never played guitar before know the Gibson name. These are legendary guitars that are featured on stage, in movies, and American culture.

That is one of the many appeals of the Gibson brand as a whole. It creates nostalgia, because my heroes played Gibson guitars. People like Slash, Peter Frampton, Santana, and Les Paul himself were all inspirations to me. You see your heroes playing a certain guitar, and you want to replicate that sound. At least, that’s how it is during the beginning of your guitar journey.

Speaking of the beginning of things, Gibson was so popular for so long because there were really only two camps of guitarists when electric guitars started taking over the airwaves. You had Fender fans, and then you had Gibson. Both guitar brands had something different to offer guitarists when it came to this new, electric guitar sound.

Orville Gibson started the Gibson brand in 1898 with a mandolin design, and there were ups and downs in the business once he started down that path. Gibson went on to produce acoustic guitars along with the mandolins and other stringed instruments. When electric guitars started to catch on, Gibson was at the forefront of innovation.

Gibson invented the arch-top guitar, inspired by carved violin tops. By the 30’s Gibson was also making acoustic guitars that rivaled Martin, and continued to innovate. Eventually Gibson made some of the first electric guitars, starting with hollow-body styles and moving to semi-hollow in the 1950’s.

We owe a lot to Gibson as a guitar brand, as it continued to innovate. How about the invention of the humbucker pickup by Seth Lover? The TOM bridge design? Gibson became a legend in the guitar world by the 1960’s as players flocked to electric guitars in general.

If you wanted humbuckers or P90 pickups sounds, then you went with a Gibson. If you wanted a single coil tone, you went with Fender. Things were much more simple back in the day! Some bands would mix the two brand’s sounds, like The Eagles. Back then, there were not as many choices when it came to production guitars like there are today.

But Gibson really started to take off with the birth of Rock music. Chuck Berry rocked an ES model during the 50’s. Black Sabbath used the Gibson SG to get their powerful heavy metal sound a decade later. Jimmy Page became an icon with his Les Paul on stage! Lynyrd Skynyrd used Gibson guitars to create some classic songs that will live forever.

Fender on the other hand, was much more… tame. It was known for Surf Rock, and Blues for the most part. Although Jimi Hendrix brought Fender into the Rock scene in the late 60’s. So for a while there, Fender and Gibson were neck and neck in competition when it came to the birth of Rock music. The Gibson brand was just a little more popular among rockers.

Guitarists back then didn’t mod their guitars much either. I mean, if you wanted the sound of a Les Paul, you bought a Les Paul for that sound. Guitar mods and aftermarket parts were just taking off in the 70’s. But for the most part if it wasn’t broke, you didn’t fix it!

Guitarists played the guitars “as is” mostly, with very few design modifications. Sure, some people would swap pickups or refinish their guitars. But even famous guitars were often “off the rack” with very few modifications or changes. The idea of “custom” guitars was yet to really take off as a concept.

The 80’s: A Total Culture Shift

Then Eddie Van Halen came around, and the idea of what a guitar “should be” changed forever with just one track… Eruption. Eddie changed the landscape of guitar with the Van Halen 1 album, and the 80’s revolved around guitars built for shredding. This was the first time that the Gibson brand felt threatened, despite QC issues in the 70’s, the famous “Norlin Era”.

It can be hard to believe that one player had such an impact on guitar, but EVH changed the landscape working with Kramer, and newer companies took notice. Guitarists were chasing the tones and techniques of Eddie, like two-hand tapping and Floyd Rose dive-bombs. Guitar companies that were formerly under the radar “back yard shed” projects suddenly became popular.

Wayne Kramer, David Schecter, Dean Zelensky, and Grover Jackson started making custom guitars on a mass scale instead of just being aftermarket parts companies and small builders. Then these companies got huge, and sold in massive quantities in the 80’s. These guitars were sleek and fast, and looked like a Ferrari compared to classic guitars.

This was the birth of the “Super Strat” and more companies followed suit. This was the rise of Dean Guitars, and BC Rich. Shredders loved wild shapes and designs, and the “Custom” guitar idea was in full force. PRS started making guitars in 1984, and in just a few short years there was a paradigm shift in guitar preference.

Gibson was looked at as an “old school” guitar by shredders. Fender tried to keep up, and offered a few models that had slim necks and Floyd Rose trems that the players wanted. But when it came to Gibson, Slash was one of the only big players in the spotlight in the 80’s.

Gibson Brand trouble

Of course there were other players that still played Gibson in the 80’s. The classic rock bands didn’t change much. Randy Rhoades played a Gibson Les Paul with Ozzy, but Gibson had a 30% loss in 1982 alone. It only got worse as the decade continued for the Gibson brand name.

Brands like Kramer, BC Rich, Jackson, and Ibanez were ruling the stage by the end of the 80’s. The Gibson brand suffered a huge sales slump. Gibson was just a few months from closing down forever in the 80’s when it was bought by Henry E. Juszkiewicz, David H. Berryman, and Gary A. Zebrowski. The new owners pumped money into the Gibson brand to keep it afloat.

Production was changed, and the business model was altered by the new owners. Factories changed as well. The Gibson brand went from only 10 million in sales in the 80’s to over 70 million by 1993. Classic guitars were hanging on by a thread, when something changed in the music industry, almost overnight.

The 90’s & Early 2000’s: A Total Resurgence

Just like the arrival of Eddie Van Halen, music tastes evolve. While EVH inspired a ton of copycat bands, the music industry was starting to change from the “Hair Metal” sound of the 80’s. People were tired of spandex and power ballads, fatigue had set in during the late 80’s. Just like when EVH changed everything almost overnight, Seattle did the same thing.

The Grunge movement killed the 80’s scene in just one year; 1991. Since Fender and Gibson had not been popular for Hair Metal, those guitars could be found for a good deal second hand. Gibson and Fender both saw a huge revival during the 90’s from players like Kurt Cobain, Alice In Chains, and Pearl Jam. Classic guitars became popular again, and many new guitarists started playing Fender and Gibson.

By the end of the 90’s the Gibson brand was back on the map, along with Fender due to Grunge Rock. Other brands like PRS and Schecter became popular at the turn of the century with Nu-Metal, although Ibanez never really lost steam at all over the years. There was a huge boom in NEW guitar players during the late 90’s as well. By the mid 2000’s the guitar as an instrument and rock music was at an all-time peak.

The trends in guitar designs stopped changing so drastically by 2010 and guitar was here to stay. More people playing guitars, meant more companies making guitars that have diverse designs. Ibanez, PRS, and Schecter became more progressive in design while Fender and Gibson stuck to traditional designs.

This business model has not changed for the Gibson brand. It still offers traditional guitars based on popular models from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. Fender does the same thing, offering the legendary designs that made the company famous. These are “legacy” instruments that players still love.

Since then, the “Big 3” guitar brands have been Fender, Gibson, and PRS. Fender has made some changes to the main lineup to modernize the brand, and PRS is constantly making new designs and offering new models. Fender markets well to young players, and offers a large price tier. Meanwhile, PRS also has several lineups both in the USA and import lines, with different price tiers.

Gibson on the other hand, makes “legacy” models that resemble the 60’s and 50’s models in traditional colors. The Studio and Tribute models are stripped down versions that go for a lower price tag. These were the models that put the company on the map in the first place. But mostly, Gibson is known for being expensive.

Gibson owns Kramer and Epiphone, which covers a lot of different price tiers for import models. These imports are mostly budget models that are based on classic guitars. Epiphone has a few original models, but the majority of stock are “inspired by” Gibson models.

Epiphone is the only company allowed to make Gibson models like the Les Paul, and this is the way you get an “affordable” Les Paul. Although the Epiphone line still has a long-standing stigma of not being a “real” Les Paul.

Epiphone ranges from $200 to $900 usually, and these are made overseas. Gibson is made in the USA only, which brings the cost up dramatically. Currently, the lowest priced Gibson guitars are over $1000 for the bare-bones models.

Fender has the Mexican line that allows players to get a “real” Fender for under $1000. Squier also makes Fender designs for a low price, but the name on the headstock matters to a lot of players. Other than the few stripped down models, Gibson just doesn’t offer anything like that when it comes to prices. Which brings us to the first problem on this list.

But there are more than just the prices standing in the way of Gibson these days. There have been bankruptcies, frivolous law suits, company mismanagement, and the beginnings of a “lifestyle brand” that all stand in the way for Gibson. Let’s look at the main 3 issues that Gibson currently face, and break them down.


1.The Products, Quality, & Price Tiers

Gibson brand

The more recent problems with the Gibson brand started during the early 2000’s when we saw a price hike across all models. Gibson is a good investment though, since most models will hold resale value if you keep the guitar in original condition. In fact, the price might go up in a few years depending on the model.

But players usually do not look at a guitar as an “investment”. We buy guitars to make them “our own” in one way or another, and sometimes modifications go with that. The early 2000’s price hike made a lot of players feel scared to make any modifications on their guitars.

This became a huge problem when there was another price hike, and Gibson had started becoming a “lifestyle” brand by branching out into consumer electronics, accessories, and apparel. This lead to the now-infamous Robo-Tuners era that lasted a little over a year.

Fun Fact: These guitars did not sell very well, but the ones that did sell, ended up modified usually. I honestly knew guitar techs that removed those Robo-Tuners and replaced them with Grover. He made a fortune “fixing” this mistake that Gibson made.

There is also a need for reissues of popular models, that Gibson has ignored. The RD Model for example, is one of the most requested guitars that has yet to see an unaltered reissue. Many guitarists want “Norlin Era” 70’s models, but Gibson doesn’t make those either.

Gibson kind of does whatever it wants, and I think that is fine if you are a smaller company. But a legendary company that makes iconic designs should offer the products that the customers want to buy. Instead, Gibson puts out guitars and says “take it or leave it”.

A great example is the 80’s Explorer reissue that just came out. This is a guitar that Gibson fans have wanted for a long time. The stripped-down aesthetic was made popular by Metallica, before James moved over to ESP.

So if you want a certain model, or finish style, you have to just wait until Gibson decides that it is a lucrative move. Otherwise, I hope you like the products that are currently offered, because if you don’t? You are just out of luck, too bad for you.

The “Lifestyle Brand” image also knocked the Gibson Brand down a few notches, both in sales and popularity. The company offered apparel, electronics, phone cases, and all kinds of other home goods for a steep price. People have often mocked the prices of the “Gibson Leather Jacket” and other items that go for insane prices.

I’m in my 40’s so I don’t really have the best idea of what is “cool”. But making Gibson a lifestyle brand is pretty far away from being cool to me, as well as using gimmicks to sell guitars. A guitar should sell itself, from the looks down to the features and playability.

I really don’t need anything especially rare, expensive, or a brand approval. Which brings us to Signature models, and their exorbitant price tag. Let’s start there, and go through the current price tiers…

Signature Models/Collectables

Gibson brand issues

Signature models are not really something that guitarists think of when it comes to the Gibson brand. Sure, we know that Kirk Hammet has “Greenie” and Slash plays Les Paul guitars. Gibson DOES make signature models for these artists. however they are more of a collectable item.

The problem I have with this whole setup, is that Gibson doesn’t make “special” current models for artists. Gibson makes the guitars that these people USED to play. In the case of Slash, he does have updated models, but they are just a Les Paul. These guitars are not designed by the artists.

Gibson offers historic replicas of famous guitars. You can find the AFD Slash Les Paul for instance, or the Adam Jones 70’s Les Paul. These are replicas of their personal guitars that have been used for years. So they are hardly “new” in any way.

So what is the difference between a Kirk Hammet Flying V and a regular production Flying V? Well, the Kirk Model is a replica of his, so it is beat up a little, and it comes with a certificate of authenticity. But the price is based on “planned limited” production. These are hand-made and only 200 were produced.

But… the $13,000 difference in price seems a little steep, even for a collector’s item. The same can be said for the Slash Model, Dave Mustaine, and Adam Jones Les Paul. The price is right in line with the idea of a collectable “lifestyle brand”. Which includes:

  • T Shirts
  • Keychains
  • Pins and Patches
  • Lifton leather Collaborations
  • Books
  • Posters
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Phone Cases
  • Home Furniture
  • Home Art

This reminds me of Harley Davidson in a lot of ways, where you walk into the Harley store and the bikes are not even the focus. The collectables and over-priced clothes are what you see before a motorcycle. I have not been to the Gibson Brand Experience store, but I can only imagine.

But hey, most normal people cannot afford these guitars, and that is completely fine. I get it, they are relic models that are exact replicas of a famous instrument. These are not made to played on stage or anything, and most guitarists would never let them leave the house. But what about the Standard lineup made for us humble mortals?

Standard Models

These are broken up into two categories by the Gibson brand for all guitars and basses. You have the Original collection of the most famous Gibson Standard Models, and then you have the Modern lineup that have different finish options and pickup varieties.

The absolute lowest that you can go with Gibson is the Les Paul Tribute. These are stripped down Studio models that are totally bare bones. They start at a rather reasonable price, around $1300 after taxes. But almost every other model is over $2000.

The SG can also be affordable, but that is still well over $1000 for the most basic model in the Original Series. The popular Junior models with P90 pickups also run at a higher price than you would ever expect. The irony is that the Junior series was meant to be very affordable, and the Rick Beato Signature is $3000.

Gibson does have an “affordable” line with Epiphone Guitars. But there is a serious lack of affordable models when it comes to the Gibson brand. If you bring this up anywhere online, you’ll probably be told that you’re broke or jealous. The “Gibson are doctor and lawyer guitars” saying didn’t come from nowhere… it is sort of true.

These production models are not special, though. They are still made by a CNC machine, and finished by hand just like most guitars on the market. I think for the feature set that you get, you are definitely over-paying once you get to the $3000 mark, even with the PLEK machine. This is where the law of diminishing returns steps in.

Law of Diminishing Returns: a principle stating that profits or benefits gained from something will represent a proportionally smaller gain as more money or energy is invested in it.

These are still “historic” models when it comes to design, with historic features. I have always liked the way Gibson pickups sound, but there is no way I am taking one on the road with me again. When I toured with a Les Paul, I was scared to death that it would end up stolen…

Or broken from a light fall, since the Gibson headstock has never seen a volute reinforcement added as a redesign. Gibson is an iconic brand, and I think players would appreciate a little bit of modernization. You could still sell a few “original” models, but why not fix a weak point on your guitar design?

The law of diminishing returns really kicks in around $2000 or so when it comes to guitars. Other companies like Schecter offer guitars with name brand pickups and hardware, as well as interesting shapes and finishes. Schecter keeps these under $2000, and it is hard to argue with great components and workmanship.

Gibson uses proprietary parts, and does almost everything “in-house” when it comes to building guitars. So I can understand the high prices for custom shop or Mod Shop guitars. But not your standard production lineup.

Management of The Gibson Brand

Gibson has been in trouble before and sold, and factories have moved as well. In 2018, Gibson filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from years and years of debt issues. This came from a lot of business ventures in consumer electronics overseas, but guitar production never stopped.

The company was 500 million dollars in debt from purchasing audio companies like Onkyo Corporation, Cerwin Vega, Stanton, Phillips, and quite a few other brands. The Gibson Brand umbrella expands to many guitar and audio companies still to this day.

The problem with the Gibson brand acquiring these companies, is many of them have become obsolete. Home stereo systems have all but dissolved these days.

Add to this the “scandal” over how the woods were being sourced and the violation of the Lacey Act. This came from alleged shady dealings to procure Ebony wood from protected areas. This resulted in a loss of over a million dollars in woods and fees.

Just this month, CEO JC Curleigh stepped down after 4 years of the “Play Authentic” campaign. This campaign left a bad taste in the mouths of many guitar players. Gibson basically said if you play a Les Paul shaped guitar, and it isn’t a Gibson, then it’s a FAKE and you are a bad person.

At least, that was how it came across to most guitarists. Some people took that personally, and the backlash was pretty severe. It became a meme in guitar community message boards. Paul Reed Smith even made a few wisecracks about the campaign, since he was sued by Gibson at one point.

JC Curleigh had tried to bring the Gibson Brand back from bankruptcy with this campaign, and he eventually apologized for coming off so combative. Curleigh shifted focus back to making “great guitars from the Gibson Brand heritage”. Which sounds a lot better than the original sentiment.

But Gibson was serious about playing authentic designs, since a lawsuit against Dean Guitars took place immediately after JC Curleigh took the reigns. But this was just the latest in a row of frivolous lawsuits that helped the company hit bankruptcy in the first place.


Lawsuits & Company Optics

Gibson brand
Gibson SG and Dean Gran Sport Guitars

Lawsuits have been a huge part of the Gibson brand over the last 20 years. That really isn’t something that you want to be known for in the industry. But Gibson has often taken other companies to court, and it often ends badly for the company.

The latest Gibson Brand lawsuit was against Dean Guitars for the shapes, names, and dovetail trademarks of Gibson guitars. The lawsuit was in favor of Gibson, which was awarded $4000 out of the 7 million that was proposed.

Gibson seems to spend a lot of time in court, lately it was with Jericho Guitars for trademark infringement due to having similar body styles. In 2005 Gibson sued PRS Guitars for making a single-cut model guitar and lost. The list of lawsuits can get pretty long.

  • Ibanez
  • Fernandes
  • PRS
  • Paper JAMZ Toys
  • Kiesel Guitars
  • Warwick/Framus Guitars
  • Dean Guitars

Yes, paper JAMZ toys got sued for making a toy guitar that looked like a Les Paul. The electronic toy maker was taken to court, and again, Gibson lost. The case was dismissed with prejudice (dismissed permanently) and nothing ever came of the suit.

With all of these lawsuits, Gibson was usually dismissed in court. But court fines add up quickly, especially when you consistently lose the case. This also makes the Gibson Brand look a little… petty to consumers, and the criticism has been noted in the press.

I think blatant copies of someone else’s work is a dirty move. But if you try to make a guitar, there are only so many shapes to work with, and many styles to design have already been made. There is a difference in “taking inspiration” and outright copying another instrument.

For example, the lawsuit against Ibanez was valid when it comes to Gibson guitars. Back then, in the 80’s, Ibanez was not the company they are now by any means. They DID make Gibson copies, down to the fine details of the guitars, so the lawsuit in that case was fair. Ibanez turned the brand around of course, once the company met Steve Vai.

Ibanez and other Far East companies were starting to cut into Gibson sales. The reason these other lawsuits made the Gibson Brand look so bad, is it wasn’t losing any sales to these other brands. Gibson was losing sales because of the economy, the choice of players, and the price point of most Gibson guitars.

But these lawsuits make the brand look petty, and money-focused. Which is how a company is ran if you want to make money! Of course you want to make money as a company, that is a given. But there is a difference between “drive” and “greed”.

I think that making innovative designs alongside historical models is how you get new customers and keep older ones. Take a page out of the Fender playbook, a brand that makes historical models, modern models, and affordable models for players.

Optics & Appeal to New Players

All of these things lead to the Gibson customer basis being wealthy, older guitarists. I have often mentioned how I rarely see newer guitarists playing Gibson guitars. This has a lot to do with the frivolous lawsuits, and lifestyle brand image, but it mostly comes down to PRICE.

Younger players are experimenting more than ever with sounds and techniques, pushing the boundaries of guitar. There are so many brands offering premium features for an affordable price. Newer players are going to flock to those brands.

Ibanez for example has a huge artists roster or virtuoso players that young players idolize. Fender has also started catering to the younger generation, with a clever marketing campaign and affordable products.

Brands like ESP/LTD and Schecter also have a large roster of artists that the younger generation appreciate. These companies offer high-spec models for under $1600 in most cases. This puts these guitars in the budget of younger players, who are forming bands and playing shows.

But it also comes to optics for the Gibson brand instruments. Gibson is living off a reputation, and currently does not have ANY new players in the artist roster. There are no modern models that have features that players are looking for these days. Epiphone is more popular with the youth, actually.

This one is HUGE because appealing to the youth of the time is one of the most important factors of a guitar company’s longevity. You cannot continue to rely on nostalgia and heritage, expecting new players to buy your guitars.

Gibson lives on nostalgia, and I feel like the current generation of guitarists couldn’t care less about the Gibson brand of guitars. There has been a resurgence of classic rock, and 80’s rock with the youth of today. But eventually, there will be a time where Gibson will need to change the idea of relying on nostalgia for sales.

This is imperative for all modern guitar companies. You have to have a finger on the pulse of the present, as well as the future.


QC Issues

gibson brand issues

Yes, the photo above is the famously disastrous “Firebird X” being destroyed. These guitars had built-in effects, but the QC was such a nightmare, most of these guitars were sent back and eventually destroyed. It was known as “the worst guitar in history”.

The Firebird X was one of the most panned guitars ever reviewed, and towards the end you couldn’t give these guitars away. I saw the final prices fall to 80% off in some cases, until they finally stopped being ordered by retailers all together.

Gibson guitars have often been the butt of jokes about tuning stability, since the headstock design does lend itself to keeping your strings misaligned. But this is a design flaw that will not be changed any time soon, since it is the original spec.

There are even devices that you can buy for your Gibson that align the strings properly. This is not a QC issue as much as it is a flaw in the design of the 3×3 headstock.

The “Norlin Era” of the Gibson brand was fraught with bad guitars, and for a long time you could find these guitars for cheap prices on the internet. The QC issues featured everything from binding coming off, to bad frets and woodworking.

The current Gibson lineup is notoriously hit and miss. Most guitarists will tell you to “try before you buy” with a Gibson guitar. One can be good, while the exact same model could be a QC nightmare. The most common problems we see with modern Gibson guitars are:

  • Wood quality
  • Bad fretwork
  • Hardware issues
  • Lacquer cracks
  • Bad binding

Not every guitar suffers from these issues, but I recently tried to buy a Les Paul Tribute model. I sent back 3 different guitars before I finally settled on just getting a refund. I honestly wanted a Les Paul for the studio, but unfortunately every guitar had a set of problems. High frets, bad fretboards, and twisted necks made me send the guitars back.

These guitars should have never left the factory and while I can tolerate one “bad” guitar, after three attempts you have lost me forever as a customer. This topic is something I see in guitar forums often, and most guitarists tend to try to find deals on used Gibson guitars.

Gibson is trying to turn this around, and tightening up the QC department. The Gibson Instagram page addresses this, and shows some “behind the scenes” footage of the factory. Hopefully 2023 guitars will be more consistent.


Wrapping Up…

The Rick Beato video above pretty much wraps up my thoughts on the Gibson brand. In the video, Rick hits all of the same points that I have made today. The problem with Gibson is the lack of focus on what made the brand famous…THE GUITARS.

So how do you fix this? The question we asked in the beginning, and it is a hard question to answer when it comes to Gibson. I recently reviewed the 80’s Explorer Models, and for the price of that guitar I could spec out a custom guitar that would be much better. I also said I would put my Schecter E1 against that Gibson all day and it was $1000, brand new.

Between the bankruptcies, QC issues, lawsuits, and especially the “lifestyle” brand prices. There are just entirely too many problems with Gibson these days. Now, it may seem like I am being tough on the Gibson brand, but I am more frustrated with the leadership.

So how does the Gibson Brand fix this mess?

How Can Gibson Fix This?

Gibson could easily have the standard/studio models sell for under $1800 and tackle a whole new market that competes with Schecter and ESP/LTD. There are so many great guitar companies, that trying to make sales off of your reputation alone is just impossible these days. You have to compete, with great prices.

Beyond the price, Gibson could also tighten up the QC. Make the less expensive models in a fashion like the PRS S2 Series. The S2 models are still made in the USA, with the same factory QC that the PRS Core models receive.

Make a “Gibson Special” factory like PRS did with the S2 guitars. Use the in-house parts that you already have and build models with plain tops or veneers. This would appeal to loads of younger customers, especially if the prices bled over into Epiphone territory.

You could get a full spec Epiphone for $1200, or a slightly stripped down Gibson for $1000. The whole structure would need to change, but it would make so much sense to take the same route as PRS on this issue.

But you also need to update some of the models, and offer features and specs that so many players are looking for these days. Keep the 60’s and 70’s models, but also offer some modern options with specs that we are all looking for like stainless steel frets, and different finish options.

Nostalgia only gets you so far, and when Epiphone is out-selling your parent brand, then you have a serious problem. Epiphone makes amazing guitars, with modern features that players are looking for in a guitar. You have to look towards the future, and the next generation of guitar players.

I honestly think that Gibson is one generation away from being obsolete. There are only so many “doctors and lawyers” out there to buy your guitars. Gibson needs new optics, new artists that are pushing the boundaries, and a better price point. Otherwise, Ibanez could easily take the spot in the Big 3.

If Gibson wants to survive, and remain one of the “big 3” of guitar brands, a change has to come.

Is Gibson Guitars In Trouble?

I honestly think that Gibson is one generation away from being obsolete. There are only so many “doctors and lawyers” out there to buy your guitars. Gibson needs new optics, new artists that are pushing the boundaries, and a better price point. Otherwise, Ibanez could easily take the spot in the Big 3.

Who Has The Gibson Brand Sued Over The Years?

The latest company that the Gibson brand sued was Dean Guitars, but most of these lawsuits were a total loss. Over the years, Gibson has sued:
Ibanez
Fernandes
PRS
Paper JAMZ Toys
Kiesel Guitars
Warwick/Framus Guitars
Dean Guitars

Does Gibson Have Quality Control Issues?

Lately, the Gibson brand has definitely had QC issues. As of May 2023 the company is under new management for the USA production guitars. Under new management, Gibson hopes to turn this around.

Are Gibson Guitars Worth It?

It honestly depends on your budget. The lower end Gibson guitars can be very nice, but the better models start at $2500 and over. If you are a Gibson fan, it may be worth it to you.

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