Jump to content
Gibson Brands Forums
Sign in to follow this  
EuroAussie

Gibson inconsistency

Recommended Posts

So with the AGF Gibson bashers universally pointing towards Gibson inconsistency (plus a few Henry haters) as their main issue with Gibson acoustics, the question I have is ..... are they right ?

 

Speaking openly and trying to be unbiased, does Gibson acoustics have a QC issue or not ?

 

Or is it more a string issue where the Masterbuild wear out so quickly that they make the Gibbys sound dead as a door nail ?

 

Or is it because they are mainly sold in the big box centres where sometimes humidity levels are incorrect and strings get changes once every six months ?

 

Anyway, question is ... is the inconsistency a genuine argument ?

 

And second question is, if there are inconsistency issues, what can be done to fix this ? Is a new head of QC required ? Is it that they are not production lane but hand made (although that still should not hide QC problems).

 

My experience has been that around 70% of Gibson acoustics I tried in last 2 years sounded good, 20% sounded great and about 10% were awful. Im talking mainly from a tonal point of view. I haven't really noticed hardly any finish issues.

 

I would say Martin probably has a similar ratio. Taylor, well they all sound robotic so it doesnt really matter.

 

So what's the verdict and solution folks ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a theory on this, based on a few visits to some guitar stores back home... I think Gibson's suffer from two things...

 

1) The masterbuilt strings are clearly not for everyone, I'm obviously not very acidic as I can get a fair while out of a set of these strings to be honest. Much more so than my mate who had his guitar strung with a set, a week or two later they were done and dusted yet mines that were installed a few days prior still had some zing and clarity 3-4 weeks later.

 

2) The brand has huge amounts of legend around it, people have seen their favourites equipped with these guitars so they may be among the most tried out guitars in the shop.

 

#1 by itself is fine, folk may ask for new strings, or factor it into any trial etc etc... but when coupled with # 2 it leads to non ideal conditions for trial. The guitar store I visit when I'm home is a perfect example, they even have their Gibson section closest to where the sales guy sits during the day to keep an eye on them. The reason? they're the ones the kids want to try out.. They're also the ones you'll see a few folk who do have the money to spend gravitating towards at some point in the first minute or two of them arriving in the store.

 

His view was that the Gibson's are the one's he needs to change strings on most because of the traffic they will see, the Taylor's not so much and the Martins in a split camp. The lower end Martins seeing quite a bit of traffic because a lot of people are drawn to the headstock and as such he has made the higher end Martins less accessible to protect his investments, so only genuinely interested parties ask for them. When asking why not do that with the Gibson's? the answer "Because its these that make people stay longer than 2 minutes"

 

He also had a nice take on the good vs terrible Gibson's, yes there are a few terrible ones escape onto the market, but they generally came in two flavours, those people play & sing along with, the singer-songwriter ones and those which are more suited to providing an acoustic layer in a band. So the singer-songwriter types would brand a 'band suited' instrument a terrible one and the band types labelling a 'more solo voiced' guitar as useless, thus the long discussed 'QC' issues the chin-strokers tend to throw at Gibson. To be honest I can't really fault his logic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So PM, youre saying the QC issue is more of a myth, and its more of a string issue ?

 

Personally, if I was selling Gibsons I would have them strung with Elixirs. Even though I generally dislike these strings they do retain their zing for a long,long time and to somebody whos not super familiar with strings they would accept the strings and also hear the guitar with strings that have a lot zing to them.

 

They might not project the true Gibson tone (as I think Elixirs add a filter to the tone) but they will put the Gibson in an overall good light, and if youre a seller its your job to sell the gutiar, and thus present it in a way that will be most appealing, which amongst other things, keep the strings fresh.

 

The other thing about Elixirs is that they actaully sound better as the age, as the brightness wears off but the zing stays. Have to say they are the only stings that work on my SWD and after about 6 weeks with them the guitar sounds really, really good.

 

I have a theory on this, based on a few visits to some guitar stores back home... I think Gibson's suffer from two things...

 

1) The masterbuilt strings are clearly not for everyone, I'm obviously not very acidic as I can get a fair while out of a set of these strings to be honest. Much more so than my mate who had his guitar strung with a set, a week or two later they were done and dusted yet mines that were installed a few days prior still had some zing and clarity 3-4 weeks later.

 

2) The brand has huge amounts of legend around it, people have seen their favourites equipped with these guitars so they may be among the most tried out guitars in the shop.

 

#1 by itself is fine, folk may ask for new strings, or factor it into any trial etc etc... but when coupled with # 2 it leads to non ideal conditions for trial. The guitar store I visit when I'm home is a perfect example, they even have their Gibson section closest to where the sales guy sits during the day to keep an eye on them. The reason? they're the ones the kids want to try out.. They're also the ones you'll see a few folk who do have the money to spend gravitating towards at some point in the first minute or two of them arriving in the store.

 

His view was that the Gibson's are the one's he needs to change strings on most because of the traffic they will see, the Taylor's not so much and the Martins in a split camp. The lower end Martins seeing quite a bit of traffic because a lot of people are drawn to the headstock and as such he has made the higher end Martins less accessible to protect his investments, so only genuinely interested parties ask for them. When asking why not do that with the Gibson's? the answer "Because its these that make people stay longer than 2 minutes"

 

He also had a nice take on the good vs terrible Gibson's, yes there are a few terrible ones escape onto the market, but they generally came in two flavours, those people play & sing along with, the singer-songwriter ones and those which are more suited to providing an acoustic layer in a band. So the singer-songwriter types would brand a 'band suited' instrument a terrible one and the band types labelling a 'more solo voiced' guitar as useless, thus the long discussed 'QC' issues the chin-strokers tend to throw at Gibson. To be honest I can't really fault his logic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that a number of different historical epochs get confused to form a lot of misinformation in this area.

 

Now let me say up front that I really have nothing to say directly about Gibson now or over the past 30 years -- my wife and I are vintage collectors, and we have lots of Gibsons (and Martins) from the 1900-1965 -- mostly from 1930-1946 or so. There are four historical epochs that are relevant and cause confusion I think.

 

1930-1942, the great depression and the golden era of American guitar making. During this period, it is clear that Gibson made some of the best quality and most popular guitars ever produced, but during this period, they were very inconsistent (particularly when compared to the remarkably consistent competitor from the period, Martin). Now this was not a quality inconsistency at all! It was a feature inconsistency -- they almost never built exactly the same design (in batches) twice. I think that people who don't know the history confuse this with a quality issue. but it never was.

 

1942-1945, WWII was also a great period for Gibson, but here there were some quality issues. During this period, the company employed a large number of young women -- the wartime labor force. When you work on instruments from this period (neck sets, etc.), you can easily the relatively inconsistent quality control. They are certainly great instruments, but they are generally harder to work on than the ever-consistent Martin.

 

1970-1980, the Asian guitar onslaught, was a bad period for all American guitar makers, and Gibson was no exception. Large volume and stiff competition took its toll, and Gibson's reputation suffered for cause. Of course, they were not unique -- by the early 1980s, all the great American guitar makers needed saving.

 

1980-2010, Gibson has had a well documented period marked by some chaos in employee and dealer relations. This has showed up as embarrassing published ranking for the company. I have no personal insight whether this actually led to QC problems, but it has certainly led to the perception that there might be QC issues.

 

All of this leads to a situation where confusion can be expected, and it certainly has occurred.

 

Best,

 

-Tom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that a number of different historical epochs get confused to form a lot of misinformation in this area.

 

Now let me say up front that I really have nothing to say directly about Gibson now or over the past 30 years -- my wife and I are vintage collectors, and we have lots of Gibsons (and Martins) from the 1900-1965 -- mostly from 1930-1946 or so. There are four historical epochs that are relevant and cause confusion I think.

 

1930-1942, the great depression and the golden era of American guitar making. During this period, it is clear that Gibson made some of the best quality and most popular guitars ever produced, but during this period, they were very inconsistent (particularly when compared to the remarkably consistent competitor from the period, Martin). Now this was not a quality inconsistency at all! It was a feature inconsistency -- they almost never built exactly the same design (in batches) twice. I think that people who don't know the history confuse this with a quality issue. but it never was.

 

1942-1945, WWII was also a great period for Gibson, but here there were some quality issues. During this period, the company employed a large number of young women -- the wartime labor force. When you work on instruments from this period (neck sets, etc.), you can easily the relatively inconsistent quality control. They are certainly great instruments, but they are generally harder to work on than the ever-consistent Martin.

 

All of this leads to a situation where confusion can be expected, and it certainly has occurred.

 

 

Tom,

There is a bit of a hole in your "modern" Gibson chronology: specifically, the post-war period up until the real beginning of the Norlin era around 1969. I haven't had the luxury of owning a lot of Gibsons from this period, but the ones I have now, particularly from 1947 through the early 50's, are wonderful musical instruments.

 

They tend to suffer cosmetically from decades of over-zealous players, so that you rarely find one without significant cosmetic issues. But they appear to be well-built, and they have a lot of musical personality.

 

Interestingly, I've recently looked at (and bought one of them) several immediate post-war L-7's, and their construction details were superb. Coupled with the wonderful late 40's J-45 I've owned since the mid 60's, it leads me to believe that Gibsons from this period are among the best ever.

 

-Nick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I say where there's smoke, there's fire.

 

Among the "Big Three" I would opine that Gibson has, in the modern era, been more inconsistant than the other two. And I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing. Gibson instruments have overall been something different and somewhat an aquired taste. Some folks just can't get next to anything other than "traditional" acoustic guitar appointments, that being the Martin styles. Doves, hummingbirds, stars, round shoulders and mustache bridges somehow don't belong on acoustic guitars and as much as anything I think this generates an aura of superiority in many guitarists' attitudes concerning Gibson. Toss in a few stinkers here and there and you've got a perception/marketing problem. If you are a Gibson affectionato this is part of the charm - we're indeed different! - and there is no denying that the Gibson acoustic tone is unique and not for everyone. For those of us than choose Gibson, the every-once-in-awhile stinker is no big deal. To the haters it's all the evidence they need to poohoo the entire line.

 

It's been my guitar shopping experience that yes, Gibson does build a stinker now and then that sneaks through quality control. So what, I say. It's worth the effort to find that "right one" to handle a few lemons in the process. When a Gibson is right, it's right like nothing else out there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I say where there's smoke, there's fire.

 

Among the "Big Three" I would opine that Gibson has, in the modern era, been more inconsistant than the other two. And I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing. Gibson instruments have overall been something different and somewhat an aquired taste.

 

When a Gibson is right, it's right like nothing else out there.

 

 

Can't disagreee with this analysis. When you find a good one, it can be pretty special.

 

I would also say that you shouldn't underestimate the ability of strings to modify the character of a guitar. I've never bought a guitar off the shelf in a store (except my old J-45, which I bought used off the wall of a music store in Jackson, MS in 1966: loose braces, buzzes, worn frets, and all), and don't often go into stores to play the guitars, in part because I expect them to have under-performing strings most of the time, which can give a false impression. Realistically, once you get past variances in build quality--which you can readily inspect--your chances of finding a great-sounding Gibson on the wall are probably lower than with some other brands. They seem to sulk if they have old strings, or the wrong strings.

 

I look at Gibsons sort of like the sometimes-cranky black-sheep uncle you might have had as a youngster: he could scare and intimidate you, but if you ever got past the rough exterior, you often found a heart of gold and a soul of pure magic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't help thinking that character and inconsistency go hand in hand. I.e it is the human touch that is given to an instrument's construction, such as with a Gibson guitar, that makes each instrument unique!

 

On the reverse side (and bring devils advocate!) I can see people's point of view that if they are buying an instrument from a huge corporation such as Gibson, then they don't think it should be a lottery and more or less, every instrument should be very similar.

 

Interesting topic and I enjoyed and learned much from the above posts.

 

Matt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Considering the source, I don't think it has any real weight to it.

 

It is a TAYLOR site. I think Taylor makes some great guitars, but they are very different from Gibsons. If a guy is a fan of Taylors, I would'nt expect them to find the same qualities in a Gibson. Just as if one is a fan of Gibson's, Taylors are usually gonna fall short of that.

 

I find that Taylors have a lot of "zing" and treble that is pretty much there in most every Taylor. I also think they have good string to string separation and an evenness in the tone that can sound beautiful.

 

Gibsons on the other hand, have a lot of harmonic complexity, especially in the midrange, and you get a lot of overtones and undertones. And, they can have an awesome bass and a "thump".

 

What I think should be immediately apparent is that both brands have a VERY different sound, and each seems to have a different goal in what is a good sound. But, trying to explain why a Gibson is not as "good" as a Taylor is a futile argument. Once you hold a Gibson to the Taylor standard and try to explain why that is, you have missed the boat and you have left the planet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Speaking from personal experience: I've bought two Gibsons used and two Martins new. One Martin (00018GE) was flawless, the other Martin (0018V) had a lifting pickguard when it arrived and the finish around the bridge cracked/checked after I'd had it a week , or so. The checking is a known issue and there's several threads about it on UMGF - it's not covered under Martin's warranty. Both of the Gibson I've bought used were flawless - aside from a small knick in the taper in one of the back braces. Either way, all 4 guitars sounded great, played great, and saw me through good times and bad times. That's what it's all about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I couldn't agree more, however for some people there must be a best, it's something to be fought over and coincidentally it's usually the one that they own. It only takes a couple before the gang mentality kicks in, in AGF terms there are a few elite posters, if they speak one way or the other on such matters it becomes gospel to the followers... that 'gospel' is churned out time and time again in the multitude of threads that cover these kind of topics.

 

Either way, all 4 guitars sounded great, played great, and saw me through good times and bad times. That's what it's all about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ironically I fall more in line with the AGF mentality on this topic. I've taken a bit of heat for expressing such opinions here in the past, but my experiences are what they are and thus so is my opinion. This doesn't apply just to current Gibsons — I've played a number of examples from some of the so called great eras that also sounded like they were strung up with rubber bands for lack of a better way to describe it. From my viewpoint (key phrase: my viewpoint), a good guitar should still sound somewhat articulate, even with old, worn strings. Some Gibsons pull this off, plenty don't, particularly on the bass strings.

 

However, as others have pointed out, Gibson is selling pretty much every guitar they make. All of those Gibsons that I've put down after just a few seconds must have appealed to someone else for the exact same reasons that they did not appeal to me. This is more in line with what Buc was pointing out. To me, it's like Gibson acoustics have multiple personalities and when we talk of "the Gibson tone" that means different things to different people.

 

I posted a thread over on the AGF recently asking for more details from those who really don't like Gibsons at all. One of my hunches is that in general Gibsons are more appealing to those who sing & play, either solo or in a band, as opposed to those who perform solo acoustic guitar pieces. As long as you're happy with the tone that your Gibson exhibits, then you're doing good in my book. I happen to love the way mine sound.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't help thinking that character and inconsistency go hand in hand. I.e it is the human touch that is given to an instrument's construction, such as with a Gibson guitar, that makes each instrument unique!

 

On the reverse side (and bring devils advocate!) I can see people's point of view that if they are buying an instrument from a huge corporation such as Gibson, then they don't think it should be a lottery and more or less, every instrument should be very similar.

 

Interesting topic and I enjoyed and learned much from the above posts.

 

Matt

I think this says it in a lot of ways.

 

I think when a guitar is designed to hear and react to the sound of the wood, there is bound to be a lot of variable. And, they are going to react more variably to different strings and bridge materiel and so forth. The more sensitive to variables you allow in the design, the more chance of something being "wrong" when the combo of wood/strings/pick and fingers come into play. But, I also see this as being a greater chance of something that produces a tone that is magic.

 

I can see a case, such as classical music (and largely talking out my *** here) where a guitar MUST meet certain criteria that is more structured, to meet a set of requirements to allow a player in a more structured and disciplined art. I can see where if a guitar had certain overtones or different levels of projection, or "quirks" that it would be considered not "professional" and suitable for use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't find Gibson acoustics any less consistent than other guitar manufacturers. The build quality is highly consistent which is not surprising when most of the cutting and shaping of wood is done by CNC machines. Just like Martins (or any other quality manufactured guitar) the sound of each Gibson is individual because wood itself is a highly inconsistent material. Over at the AGF echo chamber they keep going on about inconsistency but it's a myth. Most of the folks commenting there haven't played any Gibson acoustics for years anyway and are just repeating what they heard someone say.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gibson inconsistency . . . Is it a myth or a fact ?

. . . . . Speaking openly and trying to be unbiased, does Gibson acoustics have a QC issue or not ? .....

 

While there is always variability from one instrument to the next, I go along with Buc - out of the "Big Three" Gibson has been more inconsistant/variable than the other two. What I find is that fanatics of the other two typically overlook the variability that is there in the other two. Having purchased guitars from all three manufacturers, for me it's a very rare occasion to purchase the first guitar played when shopping/searching, regardless of the manufacturer. And this goes to my next point - spending more time than one thinks necessary to find a worthy specimen turns some players sour. In my own searches, I sometimes have sampled many Gibson specimens before finding one I liked. This is exacerbated by some Gibson dealers - I've been to some shops with new stock that is over two years old - many times with the original factory strings still on, dead as door nails. And "who knows what" has happened to those guitars while sitting there for so long.

 

Having said all that, I don't believe this is a Montana QC issue. It's the variability that comes from trying to apply assembly-line techniques to hand building guitars. Gibson reps might do a better job of checking the condition of their clients stock.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1942-1945, WWII was also a great period for Gibson, but here there were some quality issues. During this period, the company employed a large number of young women -- the wartime labor force. When you work on instruments from this period (neck sets, etc.), you can easily the relatively inconsistent quality control. They are certainly great instruments, but they are generally harder to work on than the ever-consistent Martin.

 

While many women who were hired during the war years were put to work in the electronics department which was created to fill wartime needs, some 90% of those women who worked on guitars did one job - operating the high speed glue machines. After that the most common job would have been operating the machines in the string room. So unless the guitars simply fell apart from shabby gluing, it is a stretch to equate any build quality issues with a female work force. More ladies were employed in the build process like sanding, making bridges and other small parts and such after the war than during it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom,

There is a bit of a hole in your "modern" Gibson chronology: specifically, the post-war period up until the real beginning of the Norlin era around 1969. I haven't had the luxury of owning a lot of Gibsons from this period, but the ones I have now, particularly from 1947 through the early 50's, are wonderful musical instruments.

 

They tend to suffer cosmetically from decades of over-zealous players, so that you rarely find one without significant cosmetic issues. But they appear to be well-built, and they have a lot of musical personality.

 

Interestingly, I've recently looked at (and bought one of them) several immediate post-war L-7's, and their construction details were superb. Coupled with the wonderful late 40's J-45 I've owned since the mid 60's, it leads me to believe that Gibsons from this period are among the best ever.

 

-Nick

 

Hi Nick,

 

I don't disagree with what you say at all. I was not trying to give a complete chronology -- just to point out quirky periods in Gibson's history when odd things, if not totally understood in terms of timing and substance, might add confusion to the consistency question.

 

In fact I believe the production values for the instruments did indeed improve after WWII because of the changes it caused in Gibson's workforce -- war projects ended and soldiers came home. Nonetheless, I love the vision of the war years with all the young women workers, whatever the implications on quality. I love those instruments too. Now that was cool.

 

I just did not think the period after WWII stood out as confusing in the quality consistency domain. They were certainly much less random in their style details. in that period -- 1945-1969 -- Gibson just went through a slow evolution in features and construction methods. Many of the features are now thought of as being less than desirable -- the move to laminated sides in the mid 1950s, the use of adjustable (and later) plastic bridges in the late 1950s, the heavier construction techniques of the late 1960s, etc. -- but overall, I think these were well made instruments. This was sort of the same story as for other American builders in this time period.

 

Best,

-Tom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
While many women who were hired during the war years were put to work in the electronics department which was created to fill wartime needs, some 90% of those women who worked on guitars did one job - operating the high speed glue machines. After that the most common job would have been operating the machines in the string room. So unless the guitars simply fell apart from shabby gluing, it is a stretch to equate any build quality issues with a female work force. More ladies were employed in the build process like sanding, making bridges and other small parts and such after the war than during it.

 

 

I did not mean to imply the construction issues were gender specific. The issue was that because of the war, things were generally more crazy, and that effected quality. This is really obvious when you work on one of these old darlings -- lots of compound curves where things should be straight. This is in no way fatal -- just more trouble. Lots of carbon paper and fine handwork.

 

Best,

 

-Tom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just as some argue the 'individuality' as a plus, you will have detractors, that much stands to reason. I think the gripes are usually because its not a level playing field in the case of AGF in so far as discussing the 'G' brand. As much as I can take part a lot of what's said is instantly dismissed, I know enough about guitars to be able to pick out the one I like. Conversation on the internet is free, as are the opinions, perhaps when visiting AGF we should remember that... and value it accordingly. Just as detractors should remember there is no reason within an appreciators thread to pour cold water on the enthusiasm for others just because they don't like a particular guitar. I personally find some of the very high-end stuff pretty hideous actually, I'd be ashamed to walk on a stage with some of the guitars I've seen there but I'm adult enough not to share that with the buyer who's just forked out a fortune for it.

 

 

There's a great culture there for telling people what they should buy (Martins & Taylors) and what they shouldn't, given the amount of new traffic it's a bit misleading to the uninformed to claim to be neutral, the politics and opinions of a few being constantly repeated comes over as 'advice' or a 'word to the wise', lest we forget their guitar of the year was plagued with problems, a lot of these threads within AGF were mysteriously invisible after a while, the question is, does a few bucks sponsorship buy that invisibility? I leave that to peoples own conclusions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I place the beginning of the Norlin era in 1965 when Arnie Berlin (the "in" in Norlin) assumed control of CMI. While Gibson had been doing what in retrospect were some unwise things in terms of design since at least 1961, it is when the younger Berlin took over from his father that the build quality starts slipping. The departure of Gibson CEO Ted McCarty the following year really placed the nail in Gibson's coffin.

 

When talking about the consistency of guitars from Gibson's past catalogs, the problem is there are not enough of us who were around in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s who played enough Gibsons when they were brand spanking new to say how consistent they were. What we hear from these guitars these days is a result of probably not only variations in the materials and build but the results of the aging process which is going to vary like crazy.

 

In general I would think there would be more inconsistencies in the older guitars than those built after the introduction of CNC machines. Back in the good old days there were always going to be slight variations in top thickness, bracing radiusing and such. Gibson recognized this when they built SJ/J-200s - making the tone bars individually for each guitar and such to try and standardize the sound that came out of them. Then again Gibson made so few of these guitars each year they could take the time to do this kind of work.

 

CNCs, however, are precision machines which should go a long way to standardizing the build process.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I place the beginning of the Norlin era in 1965 when Arnie Berlin (the "in" in Norlin) assumed control of CMI.

I have to respectfully disagree. Although quality was indeed slipping, between '65 & '69 Gibson still had it's footprint more firmly rooted in the past. The true Norlin impact begins in 1970, with the move of Epiphone production to Japan. The overall company model changes drastically at that point. Epi ceases to be a high quality option, the equal to Gibson but sold for a few bucks less, with Harmoney & Kay as the bottom feeders. The Japanese are coming, and Norlin feels it must compete with the rise of the imports, so it begins a major effort to reinvent itself in the marketplace. The goal to remain a player in a radically changing market results in significant build quality & construction changes, such as double X bracing, the Mark series, pancake bodied LPs, etc. From 1970 on, Gibson battles to stay afloat in a sea of Ibanez, Alverez, Aria, & Yamaha guitars, and the ship does not get righted for a long time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to respectfully disagree. Although quality was indeed slipping, between '65 & '69 Gibson still had it's footprint more firmly rooted in the past. The true Norlin impact begins in 1970, with the move of Epiphone production to Japan. The overall company model changes drastically at that point. Epi ceases to be a high quality option, the equal to Gibson but sold for a few bucks less, with Harmoney & Kay as the bottom feeders. The Japanese are coming, and Norlin feels it must compete with the rise of the imports, so it begins a major effort to reinvent itself in the marketplace. The goal to remain a player in a radically changing market results in significant build quality & construction changes, such as double X bracing, the Mark series, pancake bodied LPs, etc. From 1970 on, Gibson battles to stay afloat in a sea of Ibanez, Alverez, Aria, & Yamaha guitars, and the ship does not get righted for a long time.

 

The second half of the 60's seem to have been a slippery slope for Gibson, and the type of inconsistency that tpbiii refers to in his original response becomes more and more pronounced. This may be most obvious in Gibsons electric guitars, from the "Fenderization" of the neck profiles to time-saving and cost-saving shortcuts in the construction process--such as the modification of the neck tenon-- which are now read as inconsistencies in quality.

 

From a collector value perspective, these changes are dramatic. A good late '64 ES 335, for example, with a 1 11/16" nut width, "standard" neck profile (if there was one), early patent number pickups, and a stop tailpiece, might now be worth $12-15K. The same guitar from a year later, with a narrow, thin neck and trap tail, but maybe with the same body and pickups, is worth more like $5K on a good day.

 

There are no doubt very good Gibsons from this period, both acoustic and electric. However, it's probably fair to say that consistency, if not the quality of any individual guitar, was on the wane between 1965 and 1969, after which the bottom really seemed to fall out for a number of years, until Henry and Company began to try to pick up the pieces.

 

It's very, very difficult to recover from the type of brand decline that Gibson experienced during the Norlin era, and I for one am grateful to think that someone thought the Gibson brand was worth saving. Not for a moment claiming the company or its products are perfect, but "consistency" is a relative term, and from the little I see, the consistency is pretty good these days.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can see a case, such as classical music (and largely talking out my *** here) where a guitar MUST meet certain criteria that is more structured, to meet a set of requirements to allow a player in a more structured and disciplined art. I can see where if a guitar had certain overtones or different levels of projection, or "quirks" that it would be considered not "professional" and suitable for use.

 

hmmm, that is interesting and true if you are playing certain type of repertoire. For example, If I was specialising in the classical/Baroque period I would probably seek different guitars to the type I have ended up with - perhaps a guitar that matches the type you allude to in your post.

 

With Romantic, modern and contemporary classical the guitar both in sound and also the guitarist in how he/she makes the guitar sound is very different to previously. For example in a lot of contemporary classical music genres blur and more demands are made of the performer, so the guitar must be vibrant and expressive! [thumbup]

 

Of course one HUGE difference with the classical guitar world is that it is virtually un heard of that a concert guitarist perform on a brand guitar. Instead there are well known luthiers whose guitars are sort after. They hold (and in many cases increase) in value quite considerably, but over all it is a much more specialist world that isn't ran by $

 

Matt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to respectfully disagree. Although quality was indeed slipping, between '65 & '69 Gibson still had it's footprint more firmly rooted in the past.

 

 

I can see your point but I still peg 1965 as the year Gibson really started breaking with its own traditions of guitar building. That is the year which saw the automated spray conveyor installed and the new neck machines which resulted in an across the board shift to narrower nut widths and still slimmer and shallower necks as well as reducing the traditional Gibson 17-degree headstock pitch to 14 degrees. Gibson also abandoned the elaborate inspection system they had in place which resulted in guitars being sent out that previously would never have left the plant. By 1968 the top bracing got heavier and became even bulkier the following year in addition to the 25 1/2" scale the J-45s and others now sported. The point is by the end of the 1960s, many Gibson flattops were almost unrecognizeable when compared to those made just ten years earlier and the system Norlin used to build guitars was pretty much already in place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think ALL manufacturers miss things in QC. Ain't a perfect world. That said, and to the internet buying comments, if I'm going to spend $2,000 or more on a guitar, I'm playing it first or making DARN sure there is a definite return policy. That would be the case no matter what brand is on the headstock.

 

The quality problems I've run across tend to be more in the string/set-up realm. When I bought the AJ at GC it, AND the J45 I was also considering, was in DIRE need of both strings AND a set-up. There was also a fair amount of noticeable DNA that the staff hadn't seen fit to wipe down. I was able to comfortably ascertain how the guitar would be after new strings and set-up and I was correct. If it depended on the "in store" condition I would have walked on either. On the up side, I was able to use the shelf condition of the AJ and negotiate a VERY good price.

 

Not a fan of Masterbuilt strings, myself, so I would have changed them right off the bat anyway.

 

It blows my mind how some shops let their inventory fall into such a shoddy level. GC seems to be the worst offender in my experience, though not the sole offender.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...