Hufflepuff Forever! (jacedesbff) wrote in guitargeeks,
Hufflepuff Forever!

Hoping to get your thoughts

Hello all! I teach middle school Gifted Research and one of my 8th grade students has chosen to do his research project on Gibson guitars. While I don't play, my father was freaking gifted and played music his entire life, so I know that this is most likely one of the best places to find people who may have some thoughts to share on this topic. :-) (My dad was a Fender man, btw - I'm not sure what he thought about Gibson.) Thank you!

EQ: What makes Gibson guitars stand out in the guitar industry so much?

1. What does the guitar industry look like today?

2. Why do Gibson guitars sound like they do?

3. Who are some of the celebrities that made Gibson famous?

And as background, here is his introduction:
I chose Gibson guitars because I play electric guitar and I’ve played Gibsons before and I know that they sound really good. I thought it would be interesting to learn to learn why they stand out so much. It is something that I won’t get bored researching, so I went with it.

I already know a little about the brand because I play guitar. I know that they sound amazing, and many famous guitarists play them, like Slash from Guns n Roses, Angus Young from ACDC, and Tom Scholz from Boston. Gibsons come in many styles, such as the Les Paul, Sg, and the Xplorer. They come in more colors than I can remember. They are a pioneer in the industry. Their latest work includes a self tuning robot guitar. I will enjoy learning even more about the famous brand.
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I took a tour of the Gibson factory in Memphis recently and am a devoted Gibson player myself, so I feel qualified to jump in. That's my Gibson SG-3 in the icon.

It's ultimately Gibson's attention to detail, I think, that makes them so highly-regarded. Any guitar, at any stage of assembly, that does not pass inspection, is discarded and basically put in a wood chipper. That way, any Gibson that leaves the factory is in top shape.

After that, I think it comes down to personal preference. Different guitars sound differently due to the pickups and strings being used, but the fact that Gibson guitars have such excellent standards contribute to their status in the marketplace.

Of course, I think you'd probably hear the same from a devoted Fender player, so... yeah :)
Excellent! Thank you so much! I will pass this on to my student. :-) Like I said, musicians are the best people to ask. :-)
More than welcome! And I just realized I didn't answer questions 1 or 3 so let me correct that:

1) Not sure about the state of the industry at a whole, but the bottom line is that you have the big names like Gibson and Fender that do a lot of the business. Then you have boutique names like PRS (Paul Reed Smith) and Gretsch, which have reputations as specialty guitars. These are invariably more expensive, but are some of the best-appreciated names in the business. On the other end of the scale, you have down-market copy brands that basically duplicate the Gibsons and Fenders for a lot less money (for instance, Epiphone is a downmarket Gibson, and Squier is a downmarket Fender). Of course, I'm massively oversimplifying, but that's the basics.

3) Gosh - I cannot think of a celebrity who is more closely identified with Gibson guitars than B. B. King. Lucille was a cream-colored ES-355. Wikipedia actually has a great list of guitarists who use Gibsons.

Hope this helps!
Hope this helps! Very much! Hugest thank yous! :-)
I hate to dampen the Gibson love, (well, not really) but ...

Keep in mind that a significant amount of Gibson's cache is down more to marketing than actual current -and consistent- quality, features and benefits. I consider Gibson the Harley-Davidson of guitars, and you can interpret that any way you like. There are many players (and even worse, collectors) that simply choose them because their heroes do or did.

There is a significant market segment that wouldn't miss Gibson if they shuttered the factory doors tomorrow. With that preface:

1. A lot of brands for a lot of different players, really. The more shreddy types of players gravitate toward ESP, Jackson, Ibanez and Dean. Some of the more hard rock sorts seem to go for PRS, Fender and Gibson. There are a lot of different types of music that I'm overlooking here, of course.

2. There are a lot of Gibsons made from a lot of materials, which makes many of them sound different from one another. If you're referring to the typical mahogany Les Paul, it's because it's a huge, thick slab of mahogany. I find its tone muddy and completely unappealing, and I completely dislike the feel of its fretboard radius. Then there's the SG, which is a far thinner, brighter tone. I dislike its tone, also, but I'll own up to liking the feel of its neck and fretboard far better than the Les Paul.

3. It's difficult to say for me. Gibson was already famous before Tony Iommi, Slash or Angus Young. Maybe Jimmy Page?

As for me, give me a nice swamp ash Superstrat with a Floyd Rose and humbucker and I'm happy as a clam. Give me a Les Paul and I'll sell it and buy a pair of the aforementioned guitars - or a killer amp head.

There are so many factors to good tone that it's not even funny, though - the guitarist's hands, the body material, the pickups, the amp, the amp's settings, how the amp is mic'd, the speaker cabinet, the speakers ... the list goes on.

I'd encourage your young guitarist to try everything appropriate to his style of music. Let his ears be the judge, not his eyes.
Excellent! I really appreciate your point of view, as did my student. Thank you!
Anytime. If you want to see me really go nuts, ask something about amplifiers. Amps are really my specialty, though I consider myself a bit more on the fence about types of guitar amps: I alternate between using high-gain, high-power tube amps and low-wattage, medium-gain tube amps. Whereas only guitars with flat radii, locking tremolos and high-output pickups need apply.

Here's something else to mention to your student ... I firmly believe you will get better tone by plugging a $300 guitar into a $3,000 amp than you will plugging a $3,000 guitar into a $300 amp.
Here's something else to mention to your student ... I firmly believe you will get better tone by plugging a $300 guitar into a $3,000 amp than you will plugging a $3,000 guitar into a $300 amp. I'm not a musician, but I am a theatre professional and I would totally be willing to put some faith in that theory. I'll definitely be passing that along...
Check out Les Paul, the LP's namesake.

I'm kind of curious about the state of the guitar industry today. With so many people making a move away from guitar based music, are they still selling well with teenagers? Does the thing still have a blush of rebellion attached to it, or has it become staid with the next generation of musicians?

So I asked my student about your question today, and he and another student - huge into music - had some very interesting things to say. Bobby, the very into-music guy, is all about screamo/electronic music and that sound, and he said that he feels that guitar was more of a classical instrument until the '60s and '70s when counterculture music changed it and then hard-core electric guitar made it rebellious again. The two of them went back and forth and came to the consensus that at this point it's more or less "normal" for someone to at least have an idea of how to play guitar and that it's not particularly rebellious. They came to the idea that right now the "rebellious" aspect of music is screamo/goth/electronic.

I was a bit surprised, and I think my dad would have been somewhat horrified, but then he was part of the music culture in the '60s and '70s - the man was at Woodstock. He was part of the counterculture - it makes me wonder what he would have been like were he to be a teenager now instead of in 1968.

Definitely food for thought! Thank you for the intriguing questions. :-) I love getting the kids to go off on intelligent discussions - excellent!
Also... a fellow teacher! Way to be!
*hand bump*!! \o/
I'm with the marketing being the reason that this brand is so famous today. They are a legacy brand and you pay for the name.
99% of new technology is there to create a reliable recreation of 60-70 year old technology. It's a nice paradox of the industry.

Very intriguing way to put it. Thanks for your perspective!