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A bit of info from Gibson about the top-wood ... and then again ...


DiscoPimp

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This whole top-wood and picture switch issue got slightly on my nerves so i thought i'd ask Gibson Europe about it ...

 

here's the correspondance:

 

Hello Gibson ...

 

I’m writing to you since i have ordered one of your Dark Fire guitars in the beginning of january. It has recently come to my attention that you have changed the pictures of the DF so that the initially very detailed flamed maple top is now an undistiguishable lower grade type of wood.

 

My intial decision to buy the DF was at least 65% motivated on these pictures alone which literally made me ‘fall in love’ with this guitar. Besides the retro-futuristic look it was particularly the flamed maple top that caught my eye.

 

I also seen quite a lot of pictures of actual DF’s in your forum and not many of them have a top that resembles closely the quality of the wood on the original DF pics (which btw are still all over the web). There semm to be quite an alarming percentage of people who are dissapointed with the top-wood they received compared to the original.

 

I’ve also read on many many reseller websites that the DF has a

 

AA Grade Figured Maple Top ( http://www.thomann.de/gr/gibson_les_paul_standard_2008_db.htm ), although the grade seems to vary from site to site.

 

Since i haven’t received my DF yet this is a bit speculative at the moment but i have to admit that you switching the pictures ‘silently behind our backs’ makes me worry and also cast a quite nasty light on your company. Unless i have missed a note or post on your website or forum where you provide an explanation for this I would appreciate if you could clear this issue up once and for good:

 

What top-wood is used on the DF and what grade is it ?

Why did you change the pictures on the Gibson site ?

If the response to the second question implies a change in the kind/quality/grade of the wood, why weren’t we pre-paying customers notified of this ?

Will my DF look like the ‘original’ DF images or will it be a bland non-flamed barely figured type?

 

Thanks in advance for clearing this up, having spent quite some time reading through the web and your forums i’ll have to admit that my initial excitement about this order has turned into a heap of worries, so i am turning to you to try to understand these issues better before making any judgements about it.

 

got this answer back a couple of days later:

 

Thank you for your interest in Gibson guitars.

 

The Darkfire has a figured maple top, which means that some can have a bit more flamed top than others, as each tree may vary from the other.

These slight variations make each guitar a unique guitar however, with a unique top. It has never been our intention to create big diversities, but slight variations are very difficult to avoid, as I hope you may understand.

 

If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact me again.

 

not really satisfied by them dodging the question i decided to poke a bit more:

 

Hello and thank you for answering my first question. Could you also please answer the 3 remaining questions. I have highlighted them again below.

 

1 - What top-wood is used on the DF and what grade is it ?

2 - Why did you change the pictures on the Gibson site ?

3 - If the response to the second question implies a change in the kind/quality/grade of the wood, why weren’t we pre-paying customers notified of this ?

4 - Will my DF look like the ‘original’ DF images or will it be a bland non-flamed barely figured type?

 

answer the next day:

 

Thanks for the reply.

 

The three remaining questions relate all to the fact that the top is figured, but that each guitar, and thus also each and every top can and will be different.

There are no “fixed” specs for out tops on any of our guitar models, like was done previously, as each and every guitar, selected wood type is different and specs can be changed without notice.

 

We want to avoid that people think that one picture shows how the flamed top of all the darkfires are, because this would create an unrealistic image.

Therefore it is not possible to tell how flamed your darkfire will be and we therefore don’t notify customers in advance.

 

Most of the time, the first pictures taken are from the prototypes, which are normally different from the guitar model when actually going into production.

 

Hopefully this clarifies all your concerns.

 

not that any of my questions have been answered as i would have liked, but i thought i'd share anyway...

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Thanks for sharing. Its a shame really.

 

Those initial ads really emphasized the flame going along with the Dark Fire theme. Come on everybody, its called the Dark "FIRE", not the Dark "FIZZLE"... We were poked in the eye with those beautiful shots. We ordered thinking we were getting exactly what we saw. I don't recall seeing a small print on the web site at that time that warned me that each slab of wood is unique therefore I may not be getting what I was seeing. Nope. Nada.

 

So please Gibson, please don't insult our intelligence. Please don't tell me you could not ensure 4000 x beautiful flaming tops. Flame or no flame I like my guitar but if I have a chance I will sell & upgrade to one with perfect flame when and if the stock situation improves.

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"Clarifies your concerns" is accurate. Your concerns were definitely not alleviated, however.

 

To paraphrase, "there's no quality control on wood types on these guitars and we can put whatever we damn well please on it at any time without notice."

And, "What we show you and tell you in an ad is not necessarily what we actually deliver."

 

For We Are Gibson. Bow Down Before Us.

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Thanks for sharing. Its a shame really. Those initial ads really emphasized the flame going along with the Dark Fire theme. Come on everybody' date=' its called Dark "FIRE". Not Dark FIZZLE..[/quote']

 

The point of that finish, in which a dark dye is applied and then sanded away to emphasize the figure of the wood is that there needs to be significant figure in the wood. This is a finish that PRS and Carvin have done beautifully on their guitars; but those guitars have beautifully figured woods used on each one. Used on ordinary maple you end up with black blotches here and there. And that's exactly what I've seen in the Dork Fire and in several of the Fire Tiger finishes that Gibson has released to stores.

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Thank you for your interest in Gibson guitars.

 

The Darkfire has a figured maple top, which means that some can have a bit more flamed top than others, as each tree may vary from the other.

These slight variations make each guitar a unique guitar however, with a unique top. It has never been our intention to create big diversities, but slight variations are very difficult to avoid, as I hope you may understand.

 

If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact me again.

 

:) hmm... bit... slight... it seems someone at Gibson needs glasses!

3193779527_980f960911.jpg?v=0

top.jpg

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As Gibson do not seem to have reassured us properly regarding the standard of finish we may receive I have sent Gibson Europe this email (see below). I will inform you of any reply I receive.

 

 

Hi,

 

Could I please refer you to a thread on the Dark Fire forum that asks about the apparent change in quality of the flamed maple top. The original questions have been answered in a fasion that does not commit Gibson but does not satify any of those concerned about this matter.

 

http://forums.gibson.com/Default.aspx?g=postmessage&m=180757

 

 

Could you please especially take note of the variation in finishes shown in the photos submitted by AndyRdam. I have shown this extract below:

 

Thank you for your interest in Gibson guitars.

 

The Darkfire has a figured maple top, which means that some can have a bit more flamed top than others, as each tree may vary from the other. These slight variations make each guitar a unique guitar however, with a unique top. It has never been our intention to create big diversities, but slight variations are very difficult to avoid, as I hope you may understand.

 

If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact me again.

 

 

 

hmm... bit... slight... it seems someone at Gibson needs glasses!

 

 

AndyRdam's two example photos here, sorry I'm not sure how to add images!

 

 

 

 

 

My request is for someone at Gibson to be more informative and specific about this issue. If they send out the Dark Fires resembling the latter photo they are going to find they have an influx of 'returns' under the 'trades description' act.

 

 

Hope you can reassure all those that have pre-ordered, including myself, that they will get a 'flamed' maple top that was expected. We understand they will all be individual pieces but we also expect them to be to a certain 'standard' of finish.

 

 

Many thanks

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I have to say (and i'm sorry to the owner).... i would not accept the second guitar...it is completely different to what i think i have ordered.

 

however i'm pretty sure there is a color problem with the photograph' date=' it can't be that it's orange ??? but the wood really does seem to be very different .. it's probably 'figured maple' alright, but the complete lack of 'stripes' is very dissapointing, i'm sure anyone at Gibson can relate to this, given how sexy the stripey ones look ...

 

or maybe this particular one is just the 0.1% error in a 4k production run that can happen once in a while ... as i said before, [b']look at the amount of people on this forum and compare it to the number of DF's already delivered[/b] (probably more than 2k worldwide at this point).

might i suggest at this point that everybody relax a bit

:D/

... i'm certainly takin it rather easy (despite the serious tone sometimes), i just have a bit of time on my hands waiting for my DF to arrive and this forum is probably the next best thing to actually havin it. As i said in my mail to Gibson, i don't want to judge before knowing the complete story, and in the end rest assured that i'll feel free to vote with my wallet. If my DF really comes in orange lookin like made out of plywood with sharp frets and a sticky MCK and whatnot, well then it really won't be a problem to tell my dealer that i'm just not buying it ... period .. and if i had already paid or laid down a deposit i'd have several legal grounds to ask for a refund, a flawless replacement

 

or, and this seems to work rather well judging from the experiences on this forum ... get an RMA (or wha'eva that's called) ...

 

in my opinion it just goes with avant-garde technology, especially when complicated electronics are involved ... after all consider what you're getting compared to any other guitar (Gibson or not) and if when yours comes it looks like the one lying on the sofa up there ........................ +:-@

 

elantric summed it up nicely for me ... if that thing really plays and sounds like the finest instruments he's ever played .. well then i'm after all getting exactly what i thought i ordered ... i just want it to be very beautifull as well :) stripey or not, but preferably this bordeaux-ish red and not orange ..

 

but the reason i wrote the mail is also because i wonder if the 'second run' hasn't been made a bit on the cheap because of all the problems which after all have a cost for Gibson ... the 'picture-switch stunt' sort of suggests that they don't wanna get tied down by the 'flamed' stripes, and 'the orange one' sort of confirmed my worries. you just don't do that kind of stuff to people who just fell in love .. it's cruel +:-@

 

anyways, for sure the DF has one thing working for it, it makes people passionate about it, i have developed this rather strange attraction to this thing, and i think i'm not the only one ... :)

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actually i have 3 more theories about 'the orange one' ...

 

- it's a chinese copy

 

- someone at gibson just took a piece of wood from the wrong pile .. i mean after all, look how many different Les Pauls they make, wouldn't surprise me if there were mix-ups ...

 

- they ran out of nitrocellulose magenta

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in my opinion it just goes with avant-garde technology' date=' especially when complicated electronics are involved ... after all consider what you're getting compared to any other guitar (Gibson or not) and if when yours comes it looks like the one lying on the sofa up there ........................ default_eusa_wall.gif

 

Would that it*were* "avant-garde" technology. Truth is that there are other guitar makers that have had this stuff out for several years. Well, this stuff and beyond, actually. Except for the robotic tuner stuff, which I'm just not feelin'...

 

Line 6 has had its Variax technology out since, what, 2004? Their electric Variax guitar mimics other electric guitars plus a few acoustic types and even a sitar. All modeled within the electronics. Instead of robotic tuners, which take time to change tunings, can snap strings if the gauge is too light and can damage themselves if the gauge is too heavy, Variax has technology that changes the pitch of each note as much as an octave in each direction. Instantaneous, too; just turn the dial and play as if you're in the alternate tuning, and that's what comes out of the amp or gets fed into the board. The Acoustic version does the same thing. They've recently clearanced out most of these guitars because they're introducing the newest revision, both of the guitars themselves and of the electronics and their capabilities. And yes, you can plug these guys into your computer and tweak every parameter and you can also record onto the computer and use things like Pod Farm (or a Pod XT or X3) to model amps, cabinets and effects galore (all of which are also tweakable via computer). So I'm not sure how the Dark Fire can be considered either avant garde or leading edge at all.

 

But wait, there's more. Carvin has not just one guitar with one finish that's MIDI capable, but several shapes and body styles and virtually any finish you want. Want to sound like a choir or an orchestra or a Hammond B3 or a piano or a cricket crawling across the floor? MIDI can handle it, and Carvin has MIDI, Piezo and standard pickups all built in. Want a trumpet note to hold while you play over it? No problem. The Dark Fire? No way.

 

The short story is that other manufacturers have had Gibson shaded in the electronics end of things for years, and even if that weren't true, we're talking about something that they should have worked out by now -- which is simply producing a decent looking and playing guitar.

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i'm quite familiar with the Variax line ... and not impressed. the good thing about the DF is that it is NOT modelling the sounds ... (actually if it was modeling the sounds, i wouldn't have bought it)

 

the 'modeled' tones of the Variax my be interesting to some point but is a bit of a joke most of the times .... as for the sitar ... ur kiddin right, that sounds like utter crap, just as do the more esoteric sounds on the Bass like the upright bass or the synth bass ... yes that's fun when you try it out in the shop, but back in the studio it's borderline useless ... please put on a Ravi Shankar record and try to play along with the Variax sitar and you'll know what i mean ...

 

and the pitch algorythm from Variax doesn't sound any better than most Octaver pedals, hardly comparable to a properly tuned guitar ?!

 

but it depends what you're looking for i guess ...

 

the auto tuning, and especially the ability to store alternate tunings and recall them in less than a second is avant-grade in my opinion, don't know of any other guitar that does it ...

 

yes the DF is able to function like a MIDI guitar (aparently quite a good one) due to it's piezos and the RIP. (another reason i ordered it)

 

what's also avant-garde i think is to combine all these features in one 'off the shelf' guitar ...

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Hi DP,

 

Wonderful, well written letter you did.

 

It's a bit of a downer the answer was pretty much all (no flame top) "langue de bois" !

 

Thanks,

 

 

I am dreaming of a straightforward, on the case Gibson, along the lines of what they did publish after the first announced delay.

 

 

BTW: So strange that MDF & DF acronyms are so similar :-)

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I believe that if we want a clear answer from that, we should contact directly the manager of customer support (or someone at that level) and tell him that all of us are worried about the top and ask for some answers. Maybe Elantric has the mail of that guy, no ? (I remember something like that in previous threads, but I haven't found this)

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what i don't get is what makes the cut of wood 5A, 4A, etc... if this is a grading scale shouldn't they know whether or not dark fires are being made with AA or AAA tops? Or are they saying that it's a grab and go so some tops will be AAA and some will be AA because this doesn't make any sense since some guitars are specifically advertised as 5A or AAAA so they would HAVE to know what type goes where, no? The is the first "pretty" lp i've bought, the other is a smartwood so i haven't encountered any of this before and am just a little confused. thanks in adance for whatever answers you all may have

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I have been emailing Gibson Service Europe about this matter and they have given me permission to place their responses onto this forum, so here are the questions and answers. I not sure if gives the answers we were looking for but it is the best information I think we will obtain.

 

Hi,

 

Could I please refer you to a thread on the Dark Fire forum that asks about the apparent change in quality of the flamed maple top. The original questions have been answered in a fasion that does not commit Gibson but does not satify any of those concerned about this matter.

 

My request is for someone at Gibson to be more informative and specific about this issue. If they send out the Dark Fires resembling the latter photo they are going to find they have an influx of 'returns' under the 'trades description' act.

 

Hope you can reassure all those that have pre-ordered, including myself, that they will get a 'flamed' maple top that was expected. We understand they will all be individual pieces but we also expect them to be to a certain 'standard' of finish.

 

Many thanks

 

 

Thanks for the reply.

 

In fact there is nowhere mentioned what kind of flamed maple spec in grades is used on the darkfire, because as mentioned before; each flamed top is unique in the type and degree of figure in the maple top.

 

However, your concerns have been passed on to the appropriate division.

 

Gibson Europe Customer Service

00800-4GIBSON1

00800-44427661

www.gibson.com

service.europe@gibson.com

 

 

I fully understand your response and thank you for passing my comments to the appropriate division.

 

I would like to clarify one point. What is of great concern to forum members is that most pre-ordered their Dark Fires based, in part, on the well ' flamed' illustrated advertising photos at the time. A lot of members still have records of those photos on their computers. Now the Dark Fires are being supplied, some do not match up to the advertising examples used and it has also been noted that the latest advertising now uses less well 'flamed' examples.

 

 

Thanks for your understanding reply.

 

The flamed maple top has always been a point of discussion, as there have been raised questions also to what amount the top is flamed on other guitar models, which we used to qualify as AAA or AA for example.

 

We prefer not to do this anymore, as it also seemed very difficult to do. When is a guitar still AA flamed an when AAA??? as there are many types of flamed maple; some might even look like quilted maple. We therefore better use the name “figured maple” rather than AAA or AA maple.

 

This is also done as we would like to avoid discussions like similar to those that are going on right now. You might even would end up in a discussion concerning AA flamed tops one step further, that these AA tops do however differ from each other, as one AA flamed top might have more beautiful flame shapes than on another AA flamed top !!

 

Wood is however different and unique in its characteristics and simply cannot be put into one category.

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boardusmcer, panrixx, etc.,

 

OK, friends, I'll try to answer this,

 

I have a great deal of experience with various woods used for various purposes, especially high grade/custom rifle/shotgun stocks; they are graded, generally A-AAAA, or X-XXXX, or standard, select, hand-picked, exhibition, ultra-exhibition, or whatever the descriptor decides. Over time, one acquires a certain sense of what these grades mean, but they are by no means hard and fast. Some people prefer straight-grained wood (usually stronger), some prefer ultra-figured (beautiful, possibly weak) (they will all resonate differently, also). Still, since every piece of wood is individual, the descriptions will be too; there is no hard and fast grading system. This whole mess is highly subjective, to say the least. Having said that, I'd have to state that the guitars shown in AndyRdams post above, in my opinion, represent AAAA and A examples, respectively.

 

Now (correct me if I'm wrong), I don't recall Gibson specifying a particular grade of wood for the Dark Fire. They did publish two different photographs of different guitars, but how can they possibly state that's what you'll get (unless you purchase those individual instruments)? One would reasonably expect to receive a guitar with figure somewhere between those two (they do describe a figured top) but, in the end, it's up to the individual purchaser/player to decide. So, caveat emptor; either inspect your individual guitar in person, or purchase from an online source which posts photographs of each individual instrument offered, along with its serial number (Sweetwater is the only one I'm aware of; there may be others). If other sources do this, please post for our forum members.

 

I hope this helps!

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photonutalan1 - some nice 'splaining. The fact is, in the case of Dark Fire, Gibson may have, at the very least, committed deceptive advertising, and at the worst they've possibly worked the old bait and switch (some here think the worst), which is against the law in the US and many enterprises - some department stores come to mind - have been heavily fined for such activites. I find it extremely distressing that Gibson would even show a hint of engaging in this kind of activity in the case of a specially designed "see through" finish for a guitar with allegedly figured wood, when the whole point is to show off the beauty of the "Flamed Maple" - as in "Dark" red and "Fire". Many here think if you end up with a top of plain or slightly figured grain, you've been ripped off - I tend to agree. Strangely, I don't recall having seen "figuring quailty" become an issue before (that's something since I've been buying/playing guitars since the 60s). I think the problem was created by the choice of photo on the website. Since many people shop the web who don't have access to a brick and mortar, these photo selections should be made more carefully to the point of displaying the obvious: the least figured and most figured product a customer can expect.

 

Let's face it, with all the delays and product problems, the DF has turned into PR nighmare. Further, to cut losses on the insuing debacle of warranted repair work, even as production continues, it's possible a business decision was made to try and save money by using much less expensive (much less figured wood) on the remaining production run. Just a thought. But totally believable after the BS responses from Gibson "customer service" posted here. It's obvious to me and others that when a guitar's appeal is hooked into the quality of the top wood seen through a transparant finish, the guitars should be individally selectable by its serial number which should be tied to an actual photo of that specific guitar, first come - first served, as they are on some of the better dealer websites. I pondered a Dark Fire until the knowledge of the problems started to mount on the forum. I switched to a LP Push Tone and was not disappointed. BTW, Gibson's LP Push Tone page specs it with "AAA Figured Maple", which to any woodworker or guitar afficiondo means flaming you can easily see. Fortunately, the figured maple top on the Push Tone I was shipped is excellently flamed. But after seeing what's going on with DF purchasers, I'm breathing a sigh of relief.

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Here is what I think.

 

Your average day at Gibson:

Many tops are carved. The best ones go into the pieces they want to call Class blah blah. All others go to the standard models.

 

Not your average day:

They produce a certain number Dark Fires. All the wood that gets carved is used on the dark fires. Unless its just bad then it would likely go to another model that gets a goldtop or other form of wood covering color.

 

So basically, they aren't so selective with the wood.

 

I don't blame them for selecting a fine specimen to be photographed to display the Dark Fire. What company in their right mind would pick the average looking one over the best one to advertise it? NONE.

 

This is wood here guys, like their replies have mentioned, not one will look identical. They didn't paint these patterns on you know.

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