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  1. #1

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    Often on this forum, I hear guys trash talk Gibson guitars and just as often I read comments claiming Gibsons cost too much.

    At the risk of offending some (many?) here is my take:

    American labor costs more than Chinese slave labor. The same guitar that can be built for $100 in China will cost about $1200 to build in America. Many of my Bernie Sanders supporting musician friends tell me (a proud Republican) how they support the American worker. Meanwhile they all drive Toyotas, Hondas and Subarus (except for the few who drive Volvos ). I drive a Chevy Truck (when I am not riding one of my Harley-Davidson Motorcycles). I walk the talk. I support my own (and it is hard to be humble when you are the best. I think the American made stuff is the best). There are no better motorcycles than a Harley and there are no better Guitars than a Gibson. If you cannot afford them, work harder (or smarter). The best things in life do not come easily.

    I have yet to play a production guitar that sounds better or plays better than a Gibson. For Jazz, Gibson, the inventor of the archtop guitar wrote the book. Excluding Django, all of the great jazz guitar icons played Gibsons. Those who trash talk Gibsons are without exception, NOT jazz guitar icons.

    Long live Gibson guitars and kudos to the many craftsmen who have made them and are currently making them.

    There is an old saying about opinions (the saying includes a reference to an orifice used in defecation). You have heard mine. Feel free to add yours (respectfully please, this is a moderated forum after all.
    .................................................. .......................................
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

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  3. #2

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    Actually, several jazz guitar icons trash Gibsons, even some who played them. And you will be hard-pressed to find any of the younger "jazz icons" playing Gibsons, except for the older models.

    And Chinese guitars are, by and large, made by artisans who are excellent violin-makers (winning many world-wide competitions and medals), not slaves or prisoners. Granted, they make less than their American counterparts, but the fact is, the cost of living is quite a bit lower there. Of all the Gibsons I have owned, exactly one was worth the money, and its Japanese "lawsuit" counterpart was a better instrument.

    But thanks for the viewpoint from the distant past. By the way, virtually any motorcycle made is better than a Harley, unless you really do enjoy riding a loud, stinking, oil-depositing dinosaur.

    The .01% really do love you. A proud Republican? Proud of what?
    Last edited by ronjazz; 05-08-2016 at 06:01 PM.

  4. #3

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    I'm guessing the jazz icons from decades ago all played Gibsons because that was the only game in town. These days, there are almost too many builders -- big and small -- making high quality instruments, so there are many choices. Even Jim Hall was playing a Made in Asia Sadowsky during his last years ..

  5. #4

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    Two factors that are probably affecting Gibson are 1) the recession, and 2) the post-recession economy. Prior to the recession guitar sales were very, very hot - Gibson was selling a much higher quantity of guitars than they are likely selling now (much like Harley-Davidson was selling a lot more motorcycles than they probably sell now).

    With the lower volume come higher prices to attain the same return at the end of the day. For us out here on the fringe in archtop land volume is really, really low and the product requires higher skilled labor than tossing a piece of mahogany on a CNC machine for an SG.

    Some of it comes down to plain ol' marketing & economics: Henry J views our market as more price elastic: we're willing to pay more for an ES-175 than someone is willing to pay for a Midtown. If you look at production costs: is the cost of building a $5,000 ES-175 really 5-times more than the cost of building a $1,000 Midtown? That's a tough pill to swallow.
    Last edited by MaxTwang; 05-08-2016 at 06:25 PM.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger View Post
    Many of my Bernie Sanders supporting musician friends tell me (a proud Republican) how they support the American worker. Meanwhile they all drive Toyotas, Hondas and Subarus (except for the few who drive Volvos ). I drive a Chevy Truck (when I am not riding one of my Harley-Davidson Motorcycles). I walk the talk.
    You sure about that? According to US News and World Report, the truck made with the highest percentage of American parts and labor isn't a Chevy. It's a Toyota Tundra- built in the US with 80% of its parts and labor sourced here. The Honda Civic is 70% US parts and labor compared to the Chevy Aveo at 2% (no, that's not a typo unless it's USN's). Toyota Avalon- 80%; Chevy Impala- 77% (and Buick Lacrosse- 57%). Where the brand name hails from has got little to do with it in a global economy. Toyota, Nissan, Hyundi, Kia, BMW, Mercedes, Mazda, Suburu all have manufacturing facilities in the US. Heck, Chevy and Toyota even share one plant...

    A lot of a Harley's parts come from China and other countries- estimates I could find range fom 20-60%. Just assembled in Wisconsin. Harley doesn't exactly advertise their outsourcing for obvious reasons- their marketing and image are founded on Americanism.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  7. #6

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    Mostly valid points, no argument from me (Harley Davidsons excluded but that's not the point here). Maybe you can also explain the enormous price increase for Gibson archtops in the last few years. I may be missing something here. It can't be just labor costs as other US companies have more moderate prices. I'm not saying that Heritage guitars are as good as Gibsons (again, this is not the point) but the labor costs are about the same.

    But of course Gibson can ask whatever price they want for their guitars. We live in a capitalist world and Gibson does not have to justify their prices. I am also not so arrogant to say that it is anybodys fault but mine if I can't afford the guitar (or anything else) that I want. But yeah, I'm pining for the prices 5 years ago and I am trying to understand what happened. Still jonesing for the Crimson L5.

    But I wonder if Gibsons pricing strategy will backfire in the long run as it may lead to fewer and fewer pro artists, at least the younger generation, playing Gibsons. We'll see about that. What I do know is that those who show up with a Gibson L5 at a jam session are getting strange looks from those who know the prices. I hate that. Jealousy is a bitch.

  8. #7

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    George van eps didn't play gibson

  9. #8

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    I don't have a major problem with the fact that Gibson prices are inordinately high. I have a problem with the fact that their Quality Control is piss poor to nonexistent.


    I love my Heritage H575 Custom and would buy another Heritage in a heartbeat. Similarly, I lust after a Collings archtop. However, I would not even consider buying an overpriced yet poorly crafted Gibson.

  10. #9

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    I will admit that my opinions on Gibson Q/A is not based on recent experience. I do, however, believe that they are outrageously overpriced and that the Price/Performance Ratio ("bang for the buck") is very poor.

    Sorry, but I would prefer a $2500 H575 to a $5000 ES175.

  11. #10

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    A long, long time ago (before the desktop computer) I was Production Manager in a factory.

    I organized all of the work, purchased about half of the raw materials and accounted all of
    the direct costs for about 75 workers. Not huge, but not insignificant.
    It is Very Difficult to Make A Buck in manufacturing.

    Like Gibson, we faced steep Asian competition, ours primarily from Japan.

    If you have this kind of perspective you see things differently.

    Times change. When Fender pays off its debt sufficiently to float stock or
    when Gibson is no longer privately held we'll likely look at our current period
    as the "good old days" because there's a good chance they'll run aground when
    the finance & marketing guys get complete or just too much control.

    All of that overpriced kindling everyone is complaining about will appreciate nicely, too.

    I will be watching from Hell and still trying to tune up.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by rabbit View Post
    Times change. When Fender pays off its debt sufficiently to float stock or
    when Gibson is no longer privately held we'll likely look at our current period
    as the "good old days" because there's a good chance they'll run aground when
    the finance & marketing guys get complete or just too much control.
    Both Gibson & Fender have already been there - CBS owned Fender and Baldwin owned Gibson, the experience drove each company to the brink of extinction and made it possible for Ibanez, PRS and others to get a foothold.

  13. #12

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    I bought a new no-frills Gibson ES-335 in 2007 for $1,799 with the GC 10% off anything in the store coupon. This serious instrument inspired me to learn the jazz harmonic language. It is a fine guitar and I will pass it on to my son some day. Was it worth the money? Absolutely! I also have a custom Heritage Eagle I bought used for $2,500 which had THE tone I was searching for... spectacular! Would I buy an L5 CES for 5-6-7-8 thousand? Probably not. I do respect their reputation.

  14. #13

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    I was a Gibson girl for a very long time (1983-1999). They were my main guitars during that time period. Very seldom was I able to afford a new one (the one new Gibson I bought was basically a closeout model, that was collecting dust on the wall of the guitar shop I hung out at occasionally, that I bought for myself as a present, when I graduated from the University of Wisconsin back in 1987). IMO, new Gibsons have always been kind of overpriced. Throw in the fact that I often had to play several of them, before I found one that really wowed me, they could often be a love/hate kind of thing. When I found a good one I hung onto it. Still back then, and it seems moreso today, a fair amount of its price came from brand name. I still like Gibsons, and if I found the right one, and had the cash, I'd buy it, but a new Gibson archtop for what they're going for? Not happening. It would have to be used, and for the right price.

    Just a little OT - I also ride motorcycles (I come from a riding family, and first started riding when I was 16). Please don't imply that as an American, I'm not patriotic, if I don't ride a Harley. I live in Harleyland (the Wauwatosa/Milwaukee plant is only about 6 miles away from where I live, and the corporate offices are about 10 miles away). Harleys are like weeds around here. Like many American riders, I wouldn't mind a Harley if it was a bit sportier (not all "real American motorcyclists" want to do the motoring down the superslab on a cruiser or a full dresser), and didn't cost a million bucks (figuratively speaking). We're not necessarily asking for fully faired race reps, but it would be nice if they made at least a sporty standard. The 48? No thanks, it has a peanut gas tank, dinky seat, semi-splayed out seating, wimpy performance, and a ridculous pricetag to boot. The XR1200, and Buells are kind of cool (and before I could afford to get another bike, I considered getting a Buell Cyclone), but are no longer made, and for many riders, were only a step in the right direction. Sorry, I'll stick to my Triumph Thruxton.
    Last edited by EllenGtrGrl; 05-08-2016 at 08:54 PM. Reason: Spelling Correction

  15. #14

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    EllenGtrGrl,
    Congratulations on the Thruxton, nice choice!

    I've got a '06 T-00 in storage waiting for reanimation.
    But, I guess the motorcycle talk is for another thread...

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger View Post
    Often on this forum, I hear guys trash talk Gibson guitars and just as often I read comments claiming Gibsons cost too much.

    At the risk of offending some (many?) here is my take:

    American labor costs more than Chinese slave labor. The same guitar that can be built for $100 in China will cost about $1200 to build in America. Many of my Bernie Sanders supporting musician friends tell me (a proud Republican) how they support the American worker. Meanwhile they all drive Toyotas, Hondas and Subarus (except for the few who drive Volvos ). I drive a Chevy Truck (when I am not riding one of my Harley-Davidson Motorcycles). I walk the talk. I support my own (and it is hard to be humble when you are the best. I think the American made stuff is the best). There are no better motorcycles than a Harley and there are no better Guitars than a Gibson. If you cannot afford them, work harder (or smarter). The best things in life do not come easily.

    I have yet to play a production guitar that sounds better or plays better than a Gibson. For Jazz, Gibson, the inventor of the archtop guitar wrote the book. Excluding Django, all of the great jazz guitar icons played Gibsons. Those who trash talk Gibsons are without exception, NOT jazz guitar icons.

    Long live Gibson guitars and kudos to the many craftsmen who have made them and are currently making them.



    There is an old saying about opinions (the saying includes a reference to an orifice used in defecation). You have heard mine. Feel free to add yours (respectfully please, this is a moderated forum after all.
    The problem with Gibson and many American companies is that it all comes down to profit margins and the bottom line. In many instances we are really paying for all other added costs, such as buildings, advertising, utilities and many, many other items not even known by the consumer. The intrinsic value is really not there. I'm too a patriot, but am not willing to take it in the ass for an American company. Gibson too has made instruments overseas in the name of reducing costs and increasing the bottom line. They also have many employees that are basically assembly line workers and could care less about rock, jazz or blues. They probably listen to Snoop Dog or Katy Perry all day at work. So it's not like they are hiring the Benedettos of the world to build their guitars, hence the QC issues. Many of the Chinese archtop companies have a handful of luthiers building these archtops by hand. All politics aside, these are great instruments at a great price! I only hope Gibson, would be a guitar company once again and not this out of control corporate conglomerate.

  17. #16

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    The two Gibsons I own are worth every dime. Both of those guitars have a level of artisanship that I don't see in several other guitars I play daily, that I also love and enjoy. One is "used" and the other "new" but both reward close examination. Each is a seminar in careful attention. Each is a wonderful instrument.

    I won't put down other brands, or other nations. I know there are labor and market issues that swirl around, but in the end, the market decides what guitars are "worth."

    Part of those market forces are people who play a guitar and say "WOW"... and it's the 10,000th time they've picked up that guitar.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  18. #17

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    not mutually exclusive..thruxton 'n gibby...hah

    The Cost of a Gibson-thruxton-front-jpg

    cheers

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by MaxTwang View Post
    Both Gibson & Fender have already been there - CBS owned Fender and Baldwin owned Gibson, the experience drove each company to the brink of extinction and made it possible for Ibanez, PRS and others to get a foothold.
    Oops! Wish I'd caught this before I posted. Just a correction - Norlin owned Gibson (I had a few Norlin era Gibbies). Baldwin owned Gretsch.

  20. #19

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    The day el cheapos will not only look, but feel and sound like a Gibson they will be in trouble...so far so good.
    Wanna hear what a cheap import will never sound like, listen to the latest DB clips on youtube, his 60s Barney Kessel is simply sublime
    Last edited by vinlander; 05-08-2016 at 10:27 PM. Reason: addons

  21. #20

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    I spent over 10 years playing everything BUT Gibson until I finally took the plunge. It was fun to play/own all those guitars (mostly vintage Japanese), and some were great, but I'm really happy I finally own exactly what I was after all that time (ES175/335). I was trying to save money, but spent way more in the process. No regrets. Still have a soft spot for vintage Ibanez, tho...
    Last edited by andrew42; 05-08-2016 at 10:39 PM.

  22. #21

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    Gibson can, does and will charge what the market will bear, being the land of liberty, this is still OK in the USA.

    The reason the prices offend is because they are, in fact, outrageous. Normally, the market takes care of this, not allowing the price to relative value get so skewed. For example, let's all agree, for the sake of argument, the Le Grande is better that the Loar 350. But in no objective way is it 20x better. Yet, the guitar is 20 times the price (I choose the most extreme example I could think of).

    This would normally be an impossible situation. Any company with prices so heavily out of sync with the rest of the market should go out of business rather quickly. So why doesn't this happen with guitars?

    The collector. All the aging baby boomers want to relive their youth and get a Les Paul like Jimmy. Or in our case, a 175 like Joe.

    According to the inflation calculator, $175 in 1949 dollars is worth $1717.50 today. Which is right in line with a comparable production guitar. The Asian guitars are even cheaper.

    So, I too won't pay such prices for a new Gibson. Yes, I'm even upset at the state of affairs. But don't blame the company; blame us. If we as a group didn't pay it, the prices would drop like rock.

  23. #22

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    Gibson's are certainly expensive ... as to whether they are overpriced that's a subjective judgement and a function of your own point of view and maybe your budget ...

    The quality of their custom shop has been excellent since the early 90s in my experience ... they do expect the new owner and the retailer to take care of many of the set up issues which causes many complaints

    They build a lot of guitars so the chances of finding enough QC problems to make an impact on the internet is very high even if their QC was 99.99% perfect

    Their archtops have always been priced just out of reach, or just above reasonable for my budget, in the 35 years or so that I have been dreaming of owning them ... but I've managed to snag a few, including a couple of L5s and a Le Grand ... but they are priced at a competitive point in the market above Heritage and other small custom makers, but still below luthiers like Benedetto, Buscarino, Collings and well below luthiers like Manzer and Monteleone

    also I'm not convinced anyone is really paying the prices on their website for their archtops

    VinnyV1K may have got a killer deal on his Super 400 at really great price, but the number of new archtops listed as "used" for pricing reasons on the web and the price quotes I have received locally make me think the high priced Gibson archtops are usually going for 45% or better off of list so Vinny's story may not be that rare. I could have had a new Tal Farlow for less than $4000 US just this last Friday, but it sold soon after I played it.

    A few years ago I was told that Gibson and a couple of the other big name makers all reworked their dealer cost formulas ... up till then dealer cost was usually 50% of list minus a variable discount ... but everyone knew that and was using it to squeeze the dealers

    With that in mind ... when a guitar lists for $15,000 dealers can give "huge" discounts and still make more money than they would by selling an LP standard or an American standard Fender at full retail

    There are certainly cheaper guitars that rival Gibson for quality and tone .... but I'm with vinlander because to me they still don't sound and perhaps more importantly feel as good as Gibson to me

    It may all be in my head ... but it's my head and my money ... and a big part of me wants the Gibson name ...

    and if you don't like Gibsons for whatever reason I'm cool with that

    Then again ... what I really want is the money to have the Gibson and the Benedetto and the Heritage and the Ibanez and the Monteleone ....


  24. #23

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    I see The Chicago Music Exchange has been selling a whole lot of new 1959 VOS 175's for less than $3K.
    TMZ has been trying to sell their LeGrand to me for $9K. I drew a line in the sand and told them to list it as used like they did on the new S400 I got and I will pay the exact same price for it, $7649.00. We will see what happens. I see the new formed tops selling everywhere now for $4K.

    Marc thanks for starting this post. I love Gibson bickering. The company I hate to love or is it love to hate ? :-).
    All I can say is guitar is my game and Gibson is the name.

  25. #24

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    As much as it pains me to interject in a post where people are getting religious about politicians they did not know 5yrs ago would be on a ticket 5yrs hence...

    Why does appreciating or not appreciating Gibson for its qualities as a guitar at a certain price have to be patriotic? What if someone outside America liked Gibsons? Would that make them a traitor to their own country if there were a manufacturer in their country (like Japan)? Or would it mean they recognize a great guitar? If Americans want non-Americans to respect their workers and products for the quality of American creativity, craftsmanship, work ethic, etc, they should consider offering the same respect to high quality products and services from other countries. America represents just over 4% of the global population. Surely some portion of the other 96% of the world's population creates or does something which is worthy of our respect.

    As to trade and American jobs, American companies have "exported" jobs partly because they are economically incented to do so. Remove the incentives to do so and they won't. However, Americans need to understand that the incentives being bandied about by some of the candidates are mostly penalties against business, forcing companies to make uneconomic decisions. Rhetoric is fine and dandy but the problems and costs involved in doing business in a global economy are global problems and costs. Thinking of them solely as American problems and costs won't get you the result you want. Make America an attractive place to make things for Americans and people will make them here. Like Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and others do. But the reasons why it might not be attractive to do business in America have more to do with the non-wage costs than with the wage costs. And fixing that is an American problem, not a border/illegals/trade problem.

    Apologies for the rant.

    Signed,
    An American who has spent decades working in foreign countries, trying to earn the respect of both Americans and non-Americans for the work that I do, and respecting and supporting those, American or not,
    who do good work.

  26. #25

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    Why is a laminated ES-175 so much more expensive than a solid wood Heritage H575 made in the same Gibson factory in Kalamazoo by many of the same craftsmen?

    Marketing.

    Just take a step back to see how well it works.
    Last edited by Flat; 05-09-2016 at 01:27 AM.

  27. #26

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    Where I live, a 335 Studio is $500 > a Yamaha SA2200, for instance. Suppose I want a properly finished guitar and not one that looks so ugly it's almost insulting, as if it was dipped in a pool of goo, Gibson's equivalent offering will set me back $1,200, about 60% more than the Yamaha, for strictly equivalent specs. Maybe Japanese workers are getting slave wage - maybe you know something I don't, so please bring the evidence. Prove to me that Gibson is still the A+ company it once was, including in its respect for its customers, potential and existing (see the letters posted here a while ago from a Gibson manager to a customer around the 60ies; I suspect those days are long gone). Until then buying a Gibson is simply not a rational choice at this time.

  28. #27

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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.

  29. #28

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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?
    « Ce qui m'intéresse surtout dans le jazz, c'est que c'est un bon mot pour le Scrabble. » Philippe Geluck

  30. #29

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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.

  31. #30

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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.

  32. #31

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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€

  33. #32

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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.
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  34. #33

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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.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Groyniad View Post
    [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.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    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.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Groyniad View Post
    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

  38. #37

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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.

  39. #38

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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?
    Attached Images Attached Images The Cost of a Gibson-cafe-3-jpg 

  40. #39

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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.

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by drbhrb View Post
    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.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by rickshapiro View Post
    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

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    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 View Post
    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.
    Jazz, Funk, Soul & Boogaloo: My group | Listen to Hip Jazz a Go Go! | Jazz, Soul, Blues: Eva La Voix

  44. #43

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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.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Jay View Post
    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.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    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.

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    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

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluedawg View Post
    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.

  49. #48

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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.

  50. #49

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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.

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by Groyniad View Post

    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!