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  1. #26

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    Archtops from Gibson have almost doubled in price the last few years ... some of it is the dollar being stronger, but the rest has no explanation.

    I can only imagine that Gibson has cut down severely on the numbers they produce and thus charge the few die hards an ultra premium price!

    Personally I have no squables looking elsewhere.

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  3. #27

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    Hi,

    Thank you for your post travisty.
    I play an archtop (Japanese brand, made in China) plugged into an amp (US brand, made in USA). I drive a car (French brand, made in France). I'm typing this message on a computer (US brand, made in China) . I do not live in USA and I'm not American. Gibsons don't make me dream. I hate motorcycles. I rarely vote.

    Who am I?

  4. #28

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    Why all the anguish over Gibson?

    If they are overpriced junk, they will fail in the marketplace, and all the Asian guitar lovers can go on happily without worrying about it any further.

    Now back to enjoying my ES-175.

  5. #29

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    Gibsons just sound different

    No other guitar seems to replicate the Gibson sounds exactly. They are not the only guitar sounds in the world, but they are heard on lots of records, and many like them. The first sound is that midrange snap---on a 175,165, 125, 150, Tal, and a 350, and the second is the electrified carved top sound--the L5 thing...with the Johnny Smith being a more acoustic-y version of it, and a Super 400 kind of in the middle, IMO.

    Want more upper range?--play a Guild or an Ibanez. Want more acoustic layering?--play a Benedetto type acoustic archie.

    I've owned a bunch of Gibsons. A Les Paul Custom--OK guitar but am not a real fan of Les Pauls, and that particular sound for overdriven rock kind of stuff, is not one I listen to much, and I don't try to play in that style. Bought it and sold it, and don't miss it. For that type of overdrive-y stuff, amps and pedals will have at least as much to do with the sound, so obsessing about guitars is beside the point.

    Had a 347--Norlin era--bought it pretty cheap ($850) and it needed a refret ($300)...once this was done, great guitar. Sold it in a moment of weakness---should have kept it...darker and richer than a 335...almost good for anything. Have a 339 now---smaller but dark and full--w/ this guitar I need to boost treble to get it sounding jazzy, but it does a LOT of things really well. Another keeper.

    Have an Aria Pro II lawsuit 175---pretty darn close to the real thing to my ear...poly finish and sound is slightly more compressed (tonally and dynamically) than a real 175, I think, but still about 85% of the way there, to my ear. For $650, it was and is a great guitar. A pu replacement (VintageVibe humbucker-sized P90) made this guitar come alive. The binding has cracked, and I may get around to replacing it...this kind of stuff doesn't bother me: Close your eyes and play it---I don't care what it looks like. Need to A/B this against a real 175, but I bet it would hold its own against a lot of them.

    My L4-CES is a keeper...rich and full-sounding...different guitar than a 175...like a smaller brother to an L5...very versatile.

    Almost bought an Ibanez 2000(?!)--kind of like the thing Scofield played---brought along the 347 to A/B it, and the price was almost twice as much as my 347 and it didn't do anything the 347 didn't do, and didn't do it as well.

    Had a Guild x500 that I also picked up cheap ($1000) in 1990...ultimately sold it....it didn't sound that special to me...but I was too young and stupid to get rid of it for not being an L5 type of sound....made money on it, but wish I had it back now.

    I think with different guitars...you treat them like different children....what is right for one guitar is not right for another in terms of playing, amplification.

    A lot of the Japanese or other Asian guitars are well built and sound pretty good, but they sound a little more generic, to my ear. It's like the difference between single malt scotches and blends...the latter are good, and what I drink most of the time, but sometimes you want some distinct characteristic.

    Whether this sound/"taste" difference is worth it, depends on the individual...I never buy new, and Gibsons tend to hold their value pretty well, once you get past the original "new car" markdown.
    Last edited by goldenwave77; 05-09-2016 at 08:02 AM.

  6. #30

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    I have a couple of Gibsons and they are great looking, great sounding, great playing instruments that I love to play on and do so a lot. I only bought two of them new where I got great deals, the others I bought used also for reasonable prices.

    The current prices for new Gibsons (after the huge increase last year or was it 2014?) are not reasonable IMHO. Heritage makes all-american made guitars of at least equal quality for sometimes less than half the money. Granted a big company like Gibson needs to invest more in professionalism, advertisement, endorsement etc, I still think that going prices not more than, say, 20% higher than an equivalent Heritage would be ok. That would make a L-5 cost about 5K +\-, which is what it was until recently. At 10+K for a L5 or an 8K Les Paul - no thanks.

    Sure, due to the inflated prices, Gibsons are great investments. I had a Les Paul Alex Lifeson that I sold for a bit more than I paid new after playing the crab out of it for two years (but it was in excellent condition) which still made somebody happy because the current price for that model is twice what I paid. But normally I buy guitars to play them, not as investment.

    Just my 0.02€

  7. #31

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    Marketing eventually led me to buy my first Gibson. Being Dutch made me look for a 2nd hand, less sought after model and I ran into the ES-333: a 335 for less than half the price. Every time I play it I'm still happy I went Gibson. That goes even more for my 2nd Gibson - an old ES-125. But also here I went cheap: they are still the cheapest of all vintage Gibsons and I bought one with issues that I fixed myself (I wrote an extensive thread about that).

    Gibson has something that I don't find in other guitars, but I don't think I would pay the price for a new one (but I'm not a pro player).


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    Last edited by Little Jay; 05-09-2016 at 07:55 AM.

  8. #32

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    I don't think I know (personally) a single pro player who plays a "new" Gibson.

    But plenty of used Gibsons amongst that lot.

    Gibsons are expensive. They also make great guitars. And they still do, despite what folks will tell you (although all the best Gibsons I've ever played have been old ones)

    If anything, Gibson's pricing is inconsistent and downright weird sometimes. Which makes people start thinking. I mean, just look at Les Pauls...you can go from 2k to over 6k rather quickly...and the differences? Mostly cosmetic.

  9. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Groyniad
    [snip]
    what the topic has to do with is the precise way that gibson make guitars

    god knows how they do it - but this L5 makes all the other guitars i've played sound and feel cheap and nasty - really. its just that good.

    though i do have to say - my other guitars is a gb 10 - and that is also at least as good and probably better than any of the super expensive american made boutique archtops i played for so long

    so this is about guitar making detail - technical luthier stuff - not countries.
    I had an ES175 back in the early 1990's, sold it, got a heritage, sold it... recently got back into archtops with some of the more budget oriented guitars... which I do love and enjoy playing. I had developed a strong case of Gibson skepticism. I mean, seriously who believes they have pixie dust they sprinkle into the guitars?

    But the 2 Gibson's I sort of fell into, the ES165 and the VOS 1959 ES175... no kidding ... I believe in Gibson Pixie Dust again. I can't pick up either of these guitars without this feeling of sensual delight. I also find when I play them that I feel I ought to play better, practice more, somehow they draw something from me.

    Just this morning... several here know as much as I have loved this VOS ES175 I've had a little trouble "dialing in" the tone I wanted. But this morning, as Pascal would say, "FIRE!" I finally got it and suddenly it's easy. The whole guitar on almost any setting now just kills it. I sat there playing the bare-bones melody of "Autumn Leaves" on the lower strings, a la, Jim Hall, and for a moment, I actually felt hip. It faded, but the whole sound, tone, vibe, was there.

    The hipness faded, but not the tone. I got that guitar dialed in now and it does exactly what I've wanted, and it's different from the ES165 which is increasingly becoming my choice for solo guitar work, the way someone might reach for a carved-top with a floater. The 165 has that elegant feel we don't normally associate with laminated 16" Gibsons, but there you are.

    So I do think there is something about how they make them. And I felt that with Heritage too. There is a quality about tradition, of humans perfecting something and then imparting it to others, who absorb more on a tacit level than they can ever articulate openly, but it does impart something.

    Now I just need to suck way less in my line playing... but I have an instrument that calls to me to practice and get better, and it rewards every single advance I make.
    Last edited by lawson-stone; 05-09-2016 at 10:15 AM.

  10. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    I don't think I know (personally) a single pro player who plays a "new" Gibson.

    But plenty of used Gibsons amongst that lot.

    Gibsons are expensive. They also make great guitars. And they still do, despite what folks will tell you (although all the best Gibsons I've ever played have been old ones)

    If anything, Gibson's pricing is inconsistent and downright weird sometimes. Which makes people start thinking. I mean, just look at Les Pauls...you can go from 2k to over 6k rather quickly...and the differences? Mostly cosmetic.
    This is the biggest red flag I think. I don't know any great working guitarists in my area that play new Gibsons. A few have old ones but even those are rare sights.

  11. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Groyniad
    this fab. topic has nothing to do with america really

    i've had half a dozen purely american made guitars - from campellone, andersen and comins - they were just as expensive or more expensive than gibsons (i used think an L5 would be 2 steps down from the guitars i was playing) - and they were great

    but none of them could hold a candle to the gibson i now play (brand new L5 CES)

    what the topic has to do with is the precise way that gibson make guitars

    god knows how they do it - but this L5 makes all the other guitars i've played sound and feel cheap and nasty - really. its just that good.

    though i do have to say - my other guitars is a gb 10 - and that is also at least as good and probably better than any of the super expensive american made boutique archtops i played for so long

    so this is about guitar making detail - technical luthier stuff - not countries.
    Groyniad,
    Last night I sat there with my iPad for 20 minutes trying to say exactly what you said. And I couldn't.
    You nailed it. There is a sound, a feel and an aura about the Gibson instrument that is different than anything else.
    Even the 10 or so Heritage guitars I've played/owned don't feel the same to me.

    And its funny that you brought up your GB10. My old GB10 and my JP20 are close to having some of that mystical mojo. And they feel substantial. But they don't have the same "commanding presence" that the Gibsons have.
    JD

  12. #36

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    Time out...I love Cary Grant, too but Mr. Archibald Leach was an Englishman. I guess he made mostly American movies but "Judy,Judy, Judy"...he is, at best, an honorary Yankee. (Actually, though, I think he achieved popularity with American audiences because his accent and manner is not "cut glass", upper class English despite being better looking than an average Joe, and usually much better dressed as well.)
    Last edited by goldenwave77; 05-09-2016 at 11:12 AM.

  13. #37

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    The truth of the matter is the best gear has names that end in a vowel:
    Motorcyles: Ducati
    Road Bicycles: Colnago
    Guitars: Benedetto
    Does my last name end with a vowel-yes. Gibson fans-enjoy your instruments. This is the Best guitar in the universe-for me. Did it cost me a lot-how can you worry about that when it is such a total joy in every way?
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  14. #38

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    I am grateful for my Gibsons (none are 'luxury' models) and I am grateful for my
    other, mostly cheaper stuff from Indonesia, Korea, China & Japan.

    For guitar lovers we live in great times for access to good stuff.
    We also have more than a few great living guitar players going.

    Let's enjoy ourselves while we can.

  15. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by drbhrb
    This is the biggest red flag I think. I don't know any great working guitarists in my area that play new Gibsons. A few have old ones but even those are rare sights.

    I dunno so much that it's a red flag...I think it's that Gibson knows their audience, and knows who's buying their new instruments. It's a business, not a working musician's charity.

  16. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by rickshapiro
    Yes, Gibson makes some really great stuff but they also make some crap, specially in the low-end. Walk into a GC and pick up a few $2K plus Les Pauls and tell me how great Gibson is. Their lack of QC really blows me away sometimes. That is not to say there are not gems to be found, but they do indeed need to be found.

    Rick
    One of the things that has always struck me is how many rants about Gibson QC include walking into a Guitar Center or other big box store like Sam Ash or ordering from Musician's Friend. Their European distributor doesn't seem to have a great reputation either.

    I'm never sure how much of that blame belongs with Gibson .. which is well known for leaving much of the set up to the retailer and first owner. A smaller company like PRS puts a lot of effort into setting up the guitars before they leave the factory, which takes time and money.

    Or how much to blame places like GC were they pull a guitar out of the box and hang it up without any serious QC inspection or they don't do the set up work to make it feel, play, and even sound its best.

    If places like GC that buy a significant portion of Gibson's product won't inspect the guitars when they come in how is Gibson going to be held accountable for its screw ups or even be made aware of them.

    The climate change alone between the factory and a retail store can impact set ups and expose QC issues. And storing a guitar in a warehouse, back room or on a show room floor for months can also impact set ups and expose QC issues.

    Rainbow in Tucson offers free set ups when you buy a guitar there and their techs do fantastic work .. so that makes a world of difference. My bet is also that a smaller store like Rainbow sends back the problem guitars that your average GC will put out on the floor or ship to the customer without looking the guitar over for issues.

    Maybe its dealing with stores like Rainbow that help maintain a positive image of Gibson for me

  17. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    I don't think I know (personally) a single pro player who plays a "new" Gibson.

    But plenty of used Gibsons amongst that lot.

    Quote Originally Posted by drbhrb
    This is the biggest red flag I think. I don't know any great working guitarists in my area that play new Gibsons. A few have old ones but even those are rare sights.
    That's because being a pro jazz player and having enough money to buy a new Gibson are two things that don't usually go hand in hand......
    Last edited by Little Jay; 05-09-2016 at 11:44 AM.

  18. #42

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    I don't think the problem is that Gibsons are overpriced (they aren't really), for me it's more that the old ones are basically the same price and I'd rather have one of those.

    As I've said elsewhere, I like the old ones a lot better - than the new ones I've tried. I don't know why exactly the old instruments are better - there are many reasons I'm sure, not just craftmanship or materials, but they are.

    But some people like new guitars for some reason.

    But I am also aware that this is about much more than simply buying a guitar. Gibson represents a dream for many people. In fact, their pricing seems reasonably standard for US made instruments that require actual hand crafting. We aren't talking Telecasters here....

    In terms of the quality of the product, I've not played any new Gibby's I've really taken to in the same way as that 1950's ES175 someone once lent me for a gig (!) - it also seems many high profile players are now exploring independent makers. You may get more for your money, although when the Mike Morenos of this world start playing a guitar from a certain maker, the price goes up... :-)

    I would argue surely it's better to support talented indie luthiers than the corporate custom-shop-Les-Paul-as-executive-toy flogging behemoth Gibson is today which will probably do fine without selling any jazz guitars at all, but then I suppose there's also an argument that the masterbuilt archtop tradition still represents the heart of the company.

    YMMV
    Last edited by christianm77; 05-09-2016 at 11:49 AM.

  19. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Jay
    That's because being a pro jazz player and having enough money to buy a new Gibson are two things that don't usually go hand in hand......
    TBF the same is true of a Benedetto, or a Collings.

  20. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    I dunno so much that it's a red flag...I think it's that Gibson knows their audience, and knows who's buying their new instruments. It's a business, not a working musician's charity.
    Red flag in that they are not the hallmark of jazz guitar anymore. Which I'm sure they do not care about much as I do not care what their bottom line comes out to.

  21. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    I don't think I know (personally) a single pro player who plays a "new" Gibson.
    I know several, especially with 335's and Les Pauls, though some of the people I'm thinking of bought theirs' new a long time ago and would likely not be able to buy new at today's prices. I'm mainly a hobbyist who does occasional paid gigs and sessions, so I don't really count, but I had a Les Paul (lower end variant) I bought new. I do agree, though, that there are a lot of very expensive Gibsons that are targeted toward collectors and/or people who are fulfilling a dream from their younger, poorer days more than they are to people who are playing out. One of things I keep reading here is "I bought this $$$$($) guitar, but I never take it out of the house" or "$$$$($) for sale; never gigged." I truly do not see the point of that.

    John

  22. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluedawg
    The climate change alone between the factory and a retail store can impact set ups and expose QC issues. And storing a guitar in a warehouse, back room or on a show room floor for months can also impact set ups and expose QC issues.

    Rainbow in Tucson offers free set ups when you buy a guitar there and their techs do fantastic work .. so that makes a world of difference. My bet is also that a smaller store like Rainbow sends back the problem guitars that your average GC will put out on the floor or ship to the customer without looking the guitar over for issues.

    Maybe its dealing with stores like Rainbow that help maintain a positive image of Gibson for me
    5 minutes with a nut file, tweak the truss rod and adjust the bridge and you've overcome most of the issues with a new Gibson. It's really a shame that there aren't more dealers like Rainbow who take the time to do this.

    The main issue for me is I've never seen a new Gibson that didn't have ridiculously high nut slots. If Danelectro or most other Chinese made guitars can get the nut slots close, then Gibson should be able to deliver a $15k Super 400 with nut slots cut so the guitar is playable; it's literally just a few minutes with a set of nut files and a feeler gauge to get it a bit high but in the ballpark.

    What's interesting to me is marketing: To sell a guitar in a store it should be as effortless to play as possible. Taylor uses Elixir strings so their guitars will sound really good for a long, long time while waiting to be sold; Robert Taylor realized it's worth the few extra $$ to keep the guitar sounding as good as possible to impress as many buyers as it takes for a dealer to sell the guitar. Godin knows a properly setup guitar sells easier than a poorly setup guitar so they spend 45 minutes on each guitar. Most guitar makers these days ship a guitar with an acceptable setup because those guitars will be in a store competing with guitars that are setup to be a pleasure to play. But Gibson? Nope, if the dealer doesn't take the time to make it playable the buyer is left to wonder if their $2k, $5k, $10k, $15k will buy them a guitar that will be acceptable after they purchase the guitar and have their tech set it up. That's just bad marketing on Gibson's part, and it has tarnished their reputation.

    But, as other's have said: There's nothing like a real Gibson, or a real Fender, a real Martin or a real Gretsch. To me these brands have mojo. They feel right, they sound right, they look right. They are a pleasure to play and to own. There is something about these brands that goes beyond utility - they were the innovators, they defined the sound.

  23. #47

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    i've done lots of gigs with guys with old and super expensive super 400s and L5s and they all sounded much less substantial - more delicate - than the newish super 400 i used to have.

    they don't come close to the rich creamy fullsomeness of the crimson L5

    check out keith murch's video series - there's a bunch of older L5s and a newer one. its obvious to me which one i like best.

    similar thing with old es 175s - i've had one from the early fifties - one from the mid 60s - and in comparison to one from the 90's they sound insubstantial.

    i had an es 150 from the late forties that was just gorgeous - played it for years. but it made me sound like i was playing music in the late forties. it had the late forties built into it somehow. and despite ADORING the music from the late forties i did not want to sound like i was playing in a jazz museum.

  24. #48

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    FWIW I have had two Gibsons in the past - a 60's J-45 slope shouldered acoustic and a 70's 175 Charlie Christian. I traded them both for other guitars long ago. I liked the J-45. People used to tell me that I sounded like a trumpet. I regret trading that one in, but I did end up getting something that I liked and will never give it up. Never bonded with the CC. Don't know why. Now days I am more about either something that I can make out of parts, or supporting an underdog. The exception being a couple of Martins. Just like the Martin models that I have. I get it that people feel a bond with their Gibsons that they haven't with other makes. If I was a pro I might go there. But even though I play a lot and have been playing for a vast majority of my lifetime I am fine without having one.
    Last edited by lammie200; 05-09-2016 at 01:28 PM.

  25. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by Groyniad

    i've had half a dozen purely american made guitars - from campellone, andersen and comins - they were just as expensive or more expensive than gibsons (i used think an L5 would be 2 steps down from the guitars i was playing) - and they were great

    but none of them could hold a candle to the gibson i now play (brand new L5 CES)

    what the topic has to do with is the precise way that gibson make guitars

    god knows how they do it - but this L5 makes all the other guitars i've played sound and feel cheap and nasty - really. its just that good.
    Groyniad,
    You are a great writer, a funny guy and really know how to stir it up. I'll bite.

    I can't speak to Campellone, but comparing an Andersen or Comins to an L5 is like comparing beef to fish. Just because you prefer the fish (Gibson), does not cheapen the quality of the beef. Given the amount of red meat thrown out in the previous post, I am going to gather that you would have preferred that the Gibson be compared to the beef. Sorry, its fish. Its always been fish and will always be fish.

    I own an L5 and a couple of archtops with superior acoustic qualities. I MUST have the fish AND the chicken. I could tell myself that the chicken is so good that I don't need the smelly fish. However, sooner or later I'm going to want a nice big plate of Pescato Frito.

    "This Comins feels cheep and nasty"....said no person, ever!

  26. #50

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    Well, I'm kind of old so I'll add some historical perspective.

    When I started playing in the 60s Gibson was considered a prestige brand. Owning a Gibson was something you aspired to. Gibson electrics and archtops were owned primarily by working pros. By the end of the 60s that had changed. Gibson started cranking out vast numbers of instruments that were purchased by kids in bands (or their parents!).

    Most of today's Gibsons are still geared toward the amateur player. Their lower priced guitars are affordable, though arguably not as good a value as some imports.

    The high-end Gibsons are not affordable to many, and there are other brands that are, objectively, as good or better at a lower cost. But Gibson is still a prestige brand and that desire to own one is still there for a lot of us.

    There will always be people who want a new Gibson and have the ability to pay extra for the privilege. These days they seem to be mostly amateur players who love nice guitars. As a luxury item, you can't expect a new high-end Gibson to conform to a realistic price/performance ratio. Their market is no longer pro musicians, it's affluent collectors and hobbyists. No one needs to drive a Porsche and no one needs an expensive Gibson. That doesn't mean you can't want one.

    There are many thousands of used Gibsons, and they can be fantastic guitars that are affordable and can hold their value. So, all this is my way of saying:
    A new Gibson may not be a good value, unless it is to you.
    A used Gibson, assuming you get a good one, can be a great value, even if you pay a little more for it.

    (I like the used ones! )