Following a turbulent year in which it emerged from bankruptcy under new management, Gibson plans to come out fighting for its future at Winter NAMM and, predictably, it is doing so by mining its treasure house of iconic guitars.
‘We’re paying tribute to the Golden Era of Gibson by restoring authenticity for musicians with our new line-up of Classics,” says Cesar Gueikian, Gibson’s Chief Merchant Officer (Ed. No – we don’t know what one of those does, either). ‘True to our DNA, our new Les Paul Standard returns to the classic design that made it famous. And the same can be said of other models.’
Visitors to the company’s stand at NAMM can expect to see a Les Paul Standard ’50s spec and a Les Paul Standard ’60s spec as well as one with P90 pickups, a Les Paul Special in TV Yellow and Les Paul Junior Tobacco Burst; an SG Standard and two new 61 spec SG’s with “Maestro” and “sideways” Vibrolas.
‘We’re refocusing on our core range of guitars that will become the foundation for our future,’ Gueikian says. ‘And that will give us the ability to bring new ideas to market with limited runs’.
The new Contemporary line-up includes a Les Paul Tribute Double Cut Junior with a single P90 and a Les Paul Tribute Double Cut Special with dual P90’s, both offer fans ‘an accessible price point with the quality and craftsmanship of a Gibson guitar made by our luthiers in Nashville, TN’. ‘The Contemporary line also introduces a new concept with the Les Paul and SG Modern,’ says Gueikian. ‘We did a listening tour visiting with dealers, artists and guitar enthusiasts and took the best ideas into the new Modern offerings. They incorporate many contemporary updates that players have embraced such as lighter-weight bodies, innovative slim taper neck profiles for full-access to the high frets, ebony fingerboards, high output versatile pickups and a push-pull control system to pivot between the humbucker and the P90 sounds, both of which have defined so many genres of music since we invented them.’
‘This refocusing extends well beyond Gibson’s electric guitar designs onto our acoustic designs,’ adds Gueikian. ‘For starters, there is the new Gibson Generation line of acoustics – high-quality, USA-made guitars built by the same hands that make the J-200 and J-45’s by providing premium access aimed to younger, or newer, “generations” of players. This new Gibson Generation line’s first offerings, the G-45 Studio and G-45 Standard, priced at $999 and $1299 respectively, feature solid Sitka spruce tops and walnut back and sides and exquisite finishes. ‘We are very excited about the new Gibson Generation line offering the Gibson craftsmanship at an accessible premium price point.
‘We have recently put our Custom Shop re-issues in the hands of some of the most knowledgeable vintage experts and collectors, who inspected every detail and put them through the lens of the ‘ultimate guitar geek test’ and they were blown away by our craftsmanship, accuracy, ageing techniques and sound,’ says Gueikian. ‘And then you have our made to measure custom program, where our artists and fans can design their own guitar, which today represents a large and growing share of our Custom Shop production. That’s a testament to the quality, craftsmanship and innovation being driven out of the Custom Shop.
‘The future of Gibson will see a much more holistic, integrated approach to working with our artists.’
One hint about what’s to come is news that the guitar maker is going to be offering a Chuck Berry tribute model. Apparently, Gibson worked with Chuck Berry’s Son and Grandson to create Berry’s famed ES-350T which will be out this year. ‘We x-rayed the original down to the micro-level to recreate it,’ says Gueikian. Gibson will also release a limited-edition, Chris Cornell Tribute Model ES-335; only 250 will be available with a portion going to charities in his name.
And what of sister brand Epiphone? Gibson says it has a renewed commitment to additional guitar brands under its umbrella, including Epiphone, Kramer and Steinberger, the first of which President and CEO James “JC” Curleigh says will play a significant role in the company’s new vision. ‘If you look at Epiphone’s heritage, it dates back to 1873—and its full story is yet to be told. And who played Epiphone? Paul McCartney. Bob Dylan. John Lennon. There’s an incredible lineage there, and Epiphone guitars are some of the highest-quality accessible guitars in the world. They’re amazing instruments, especially for the price, which is why so many working musicians play Epiphone. The Epiphone story is one that we can’t wait to tell through a modern-day lens.’
Signature Artist Guitar Announcements planned for 2019
George Thorogood – Epiphone Ltd Ed Thorogood “White Fang” ES-125TDC
Jared James Nichols – Epiphone Limited Edition Jared James Nichols ‘Old Glory’ Les Paul Custom Outfit
Chris Cornell – Chris Cornell Tribute Gibson ES-335
Dave Rude – Epiphone Limited Edition Dave Rude Flying V Outfit
Dave Amato – Custom Shop Dave Amato Signature Axcess Les Paul
Brian Ray – Custom Shop Brian Ray 62 SG Jr.
Lee Roy Parnell – Custom Shop Lee Roy Parnell Signature 1959 Les Paul Standard
Slim Harpo – Slim Harpo ’62 ES-330
Michael Clifford – Michael Clifford Signature Melody Maker
Chuck Berry Estate – Custom Shop Chuck Berry Tribute ES-350T