Orville Gibson (1856-1918) started making mandolins in 1894 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA. Five business men backed Gibson to form The Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Co. Ltd. In 1902, Orville Gibson was considered to be a bit eccentric and may have suffered from some sort of mental health condition.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Gibson became the leading manufacturer of arch-top guitars, particularly the Gibson L5 model. In 1936 Gibson introduced the first ‘Electric Spanish’ (i.e. ES) model, the ES-150, generally recognised as the first commercially successful production electric guitar. The 1950s saw a surge in creativity and classic design, partly driven by long-standing intense competition with its main rival at the time, Epiphone and partly by the threat from new-kid-on-the-block, Fender. Gibson has tended to focus on guitars and has been less successful with basses and amplifiers over the years compared to its main rival, Fender.

In 1952, Gibson launched a now-iconic solid-bodied guitar designed in collaboration with the popular guitarist and innovator Les Paul (1915-2009). The late 1950s saw a number of new guitar designs including the ES-335, which first appeared in 1958, and 2 ‘modernistic’ guitars to compete with popular Fender solid guitars, the Explorer and Flying V, both introduced in 1958. In 1961, the design of the Les Paul was changed fundamentally and became known as the Gibson SG (i.e. Solid Guitar). While the SG remained in production, the ‘proper’ Les Paul didn’t reappear until 1968.

Gibson’s parent company, Chicago Musical Instruments Ltd (CMI) was taken over by a South American company called ECL in 1969 and then by Norlin Musical Instruments in 1974. Production of Gibson guitars was shifted from Kalamazoo to Nashville, Tennessee in 1974. Following a period of poor quality control and severe financial difficulties, the Gibson Guitar Corporation was bought in early 1986 by 3 businessmen, Henry E. Juszkiewicz, David H. Berryman and Gary A. Zebrowski. Further production plants were also opened in Memphis, Tennessee (1984) as well as Bozeman, Montana (1989).

The Gibson Guitar Corporation, now a private company, is based in Nashville, Tennessee and continues to develop and produce high quality instruments into the 21st century. The company is now referred to as Gibson Brands, Inc.

Vintage Gibson guitars, in particular, are much sought after by collectors, musicians and enthusiasts alike, with many key models reaching high market values. The 1959 sunburst Gibson Les Paul Standard is held in particularly high esteem.

1977 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe Gold Top
1977 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe Gold Top

Gibson’s official website is… Gibson.com

Check out the Gibson page on Wikipedia… Wikipedia.org

Other famous Gibson instruments include… Byrdland (1955), ES-125 (1941), ES-175 (1945), ES-330 (1959), ES-345/355 (1959/1958), Firebird (1963), L5 (1922), Melody Maker (1959), Super 400 (1934)

Some famous Gibson guitar players include… Ace Frehley (Kiss), Angus Young (AC/DC), B.B. King, Carlos Santana, Charlie Christian, Chuck Berry, Frank Zappa, Gary Moore, George Thorogood, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Joe Bonamassa, John McLaughlin, Johnny Winter, Lenny Kravitz, Les Paul, Marc Bolan, Neil Young, Paul Kossoff (Free), Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac), Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music), Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osborne), Scott Gorham (Thin Lizzy), Slash (Guns ‘n’ Roses), Steve Howe (Yes), Stevie Ray Vaughn, Ted Nugent, The Edge (U2), Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath), Trini Lopez, Wes Montgomery, Zakk Wylde

Related Gibson brands include… Epiphone, Kramer, Steinberger, Wurlitzer.

© 2015 CRAVE Guitars – Love Vintage Guitars

← Return to ‘Brands’ page

Like it? Why not share it?