Gibson is one of the most beloved and popular guitar brands ever – and also, today, one of the most troubled. It’s even hated by many of those who should adore it – the guitarists. The latest news about their financial woes makes us ask – is this the end for Gibson?
Could 2018 mark the end for Gibson guitars? According to a recent Nashville Post article, Gibson’s financial troubles are so serious that time is running out fast. In short, the company is on brink of bankruptcy, and no one – really, no one – knows what the future holds.
One thing you can count on, though – the company will survive. It’s too big, too popular, too iconic to fail. But the big question is how will it survive. Heads will roll, jobs will be lost, and one could hope, perhaps, that CEO Henry Juszkiewicz will go, too.
Gibson – more than guitars
What many people forget, is that Gibson don’t just sell guitars. its a veritable empire, that owns over 100 brands such as Epiphone, Dobro, Valley Arts, Kramer, Steinberger, Tobias, Slingerland, Maestro, Baldwin, Hamilton, Chickering, Wurlitzer, KRK Systems, TASCAM, Cakewalk, Cerwin-Vega!, Stanton, Onkyo, Integra, TEAC, TASCAM Professional Software, and Esoteric.
On a recent press-release, Henry Juskiewics said:
“While the musical instrument and pro audio segments have been profitable and growing, they are still below the level of success we saw several years ago.”
So all is not lost, if not necessarily going great. There’s no doubt some financial wizards will be able to do their black magic to keep the company from drowning. But while one of the company’s strengths is that it’s so big, it’s also one of their weaknesses – after all, guitars are the heart and soul of Gibson. It’s what they should always have been about – and many guitarists are not so sure the brand gets it anymore.
What kinda Gibson do we want?
Common complaints about Gibson is that their guitars are way overpriced, that quality control is not great, and that they’ve made more than enough bad moves in recent times – from robot tuners to new, undesirable designs such as Firebird X, the more recent S-Series etc.
But one thing is unquestionable. Gibson still holds a spell on most of us, guitarists. Their classic designs are a thing of beauty, and you can’t beat a good Les Paul, ES-335, Firebird, SG, etc. Those are guitars that our idols have played and still play. They won’t go anywhere. And whoever controls the destiny of Gibson will have to ultimately come to the same conclusion – it’s gotta be about the guitars, stupid.
Perhaps the financial woes will make Gibson realise that what people want are not their brand logo on bluetooth wireless speakers – but on great guitars! Guitars that play great and which people can actually afford. And yes, it’s true that many guitarists today are moving to smaller brands such as Eastwood, Reverend, Pure Salem and others – because they know they won’t be ripped off.
That’s the reason Epiphone still does well – you simply can’t argue with their quality vs. money ratio. As for Gibson – most people would agree they’re overpriced today.
Maybe Gibson will have to finally start to listen to their customers. If they get the quality/ value right, they can’t go wrong.
Now… is it such a difficult task, Mr. Henry?
Time will tell… and maybe sooner than we know!
8 thoughts on “Is This The End? Gibson in Financial Troubles”
I JUST BOUGHT A MITCHELL GUITAR….
2 HUMBUKERS, LOCKING TUNERS, SPLIT PICKUPS
THRU BODY STRINGING, LIGHT WEIGHT, STAYS IN TUNE AND FOR $300…..BUT THATS NOT ALL, PLAYS BETTER THAN MY GIBSON LES PAUL WITH P-90S ($900.00)AND SOUNDS SO MUCH BETTER.
GOOD BYE GIBSON, YOU HAVEN’T BEEN TRUE TO YOUR CRAFT, FOR YEARS….
Here is an opportunity for some rich, talented, guitar-loving musicians (you know who you are) to wrest control of Gibson away from the bankers and lawyers and pursue ,once again, the practice of making great guitars, as opposed to that of trying to buy everything in sight, which generally puts companies into the hands of the bankers and lawyers. Jus’ sayin’.
I recently bought a 2016 Les Paul Traditional HP (inventory clearance – for about half of the original price) and I have to say, it’s a fine instrument (even with the robot tuners, which are novel, but not necessary). I have an 80’s LP Jr (which I love, but does not have great fretwork and the quality is marginal – I have worked on it and made it into a good instrument). The new LP is near my PRS Studio in quality (and this is the best guitar I own – not because of it’s value, but the way it plays). I own a couple more American guitars and a bunch of Korean, Chinese and Indonesian guitars. All of those are very high quality as well, although not to the level of the American builds – likely just due to the amount of time a luthier can spend on the instrument. I have a $300 Steinberger GT Pro (made at the Epiphone factory 10 years ago) that has some of the best fretwork I’ve ever see. Point is, there are good luthiers and guitar companies all over the planet. Gibson needs to lear to compete with these companies (and they have with Epiphone) but they need to resist high volume at any cost – crappy American made guitars are not better than well made Chinese instruments. Restructuring is likely what they need – lower volume on the high end and even in the lower price ranges – quality over volume. There’s no reason to put out a crappy instrument any longer. If they listen to their customers and take Fender’s queues in getting kids interested, they’ll stick around.
Too bad, it seems as Gibson Memphis is making the new-late 2017-58 es-335 better than ever. It would be shame to lose the memphis shop or quality in these guitars because of financial problems. Yes, these (memphis 58 es-335) guitars cost too much but they are some of the best ever produced by Gibson.
First, the guitar market is getting smaller. Young generation is more interested in technical stuff to run productions at home, guitars start to be more “the thing my father noodles on”.
Second, the quality of Korean and Chinese made instruments raised a lot over the years. In the $300-500 range are lots of real nice guitars. All those “under a grand” budget Gibson guitars are really something which needs some work out of the box. In this price range the Epiphone quality is much better. Very strange company politics, the budget brand is much better for the same price as the main brand. At the top end the Custom Shop models, offering the quality of 60’s and 70’s stock Gibsons, if you’re lucky, are way to pricey for a hard working musician. There is Heritage, for example, offering better than Gibson quality for half of the Custom Shop price, and so many others do the same. Only way for Gibson is to strip down. Good quality Epiphones for the budget line and US made Gibsons only highclass series but affordable. Others show this is possible, maybe it’s the point for Gibson to accept the times to make money just with the name are gone forever.
The man who rescued Gibson some 30+ years ago needs to go. Henry J. is naked and no one at Gibson has had the courage to pint out that the Emperor’s suit of clothes don’t exist. When I can buy an Asian manufactured clone of any of the iconic Gibson electric guitar models for about 20% of the street sale price of the original model and it’s fit, finish, playability and tone are comparable, that’s a wake up call for Nashville. I’ve bought such Asian made instruments as long as 5-6 years ago (who knows how much longer than that they’ve been available?) and I stopped being a “brand fanboy” in general even longer than that. If it feels, plays and sounds good, it is good. Henry J. has shown that he lacks the vision to deal with the kind of market that can sell essentially the same instrument at 20 cents in the dollar compared to his. The name on the headstock and the geography of manufacture dies not justify the kind of upcharge that Gibson is requiring as the price for admission.
I can’t speak for others, but allegations of poor treatment of employees, together with the company’s combative, “Help I’m being repressed” response to being caught on imported wood violations, have not made we want to give them my money.
I bought an epiphone sg for 45 bucks the ground wire was broken off it ppays awesome…i aso just bought a washburn mavrick qt for 50 bucks love it!!! One of my goals is to get an unknown Henson model no one sings wester like mr Henson