First of all, I understand that no one really cares what I think Gibson should do. However, this is my website and I can write whatever the hell I want. Having said that, there are a bunch of rumors flying back and forth about what will happen to this iconic brand. Recently it was leaked that they will not have a booth at the 2018 Winter NAMM show. Now, this is supposed to be an industry only event but most of what goes on at these shows is a bunch of dull eyed slugs wandering around looking for free shwag. But I digress.
Gibson has pulled some real boners in the last few years. Not attending an industry show, for whatever reason, is hardly a big deal. It certainly isn’t the final nail in the coffin for the once proud company. Most of the people bitching about this will also not be exhibiting at NAMM or even attending, so, what do they care. The biggest problem I see is that the guitars are being built to a price point. A brand like Gibson should always be crafted to the best possible standards and then priced accordingly. I would not pander to customers who feed on the cheapest garbage if it has the right logo. These people refuse to spend the kind of money that an American made product, like this, should cost. They are brand myopic if the price is low enough and will eventually turn everything they touch into a commodity... meaning that both cost and quality will drop like rocks. The era of “Only A Gibson Is Good Enough” has passed. Today the quality control is lackluster at best. It is easy to spot all the flaws in the new production Gibson models. Much more so than the other big-name brands. Gibson should not worry about reinventing the wheel when it comes to building guitars. Everyone who I know that plays a Gibson has some version of the Les Paul or the SG. If I had my way I would only make these two models in the “Standard” configurations with binding and trapezoid inlays and, well, that would pretty much be all I would make. Perhaps I would acquiesce to making limited batches of Explorers, Flying V’s and maybe the 335? As far as new stuff…wait for it… Who cares? (Head shakes and eyes roll...)
Owning a Gibson used to mean something and limiting the number of guitars produced would go a long way towards making the brand important again… notice I didn’t say relevant. I don’t think that Gibson must be relevant as far as innovative designs. The people I envision buying a Gibson guitar would want everything to be traditional and high quality. They have no desire to entertain designs made after 1960. If I was at the helm in Nashville, I would not embrace innovation if it meant altering the classics. I know there are people who want to see the guitars enter the 21st Century… or at least the latter half of the 20th. Not me! Hell, I wouldn’t even bother to change the headstock angle. If Gibson were my company to run into the ground I would take a giant leap backward and make them the old school way, like they should be made. I would still use modern tooling, but production would grind to a standstill if the quality levels were not kept to a very high standard. These guitars would not be for everyone. I would expect that prices would be 3 or 4 times what they are now. Gibson’s biggest competition is still probably older Gibsons. I have been saying this for years and I don’t see thins changing anytime soon. I’ll bet that in another 10 years I’ll be able to recycle this post word for word and it will be as true then as it is today, at least, as far as I’m concerned. What would you do if you were the CEO of Gibson Guitars?