What would you do different if you ran Gibson?


Senior member
After what felt like an eternity away, it really feels good to be back on the Warmoth forum!

I figure that since seeing the recent monstrocities to roll off of the assembly line in Nashville, not to mention in addition to so many people's recent distaste with various things, I thought that putting this hypothetical question on here would get some fun replies:

"Henry Juszkiewicz and Dave Barryman were fired from their positions at Gibson, tarred, feathered and burned at the stake Joan of Arc style. They have asked you to be the head of the company and un-f**k things. What are some of the changes that you do?"

Have fun guys!
I would pretend the past 36 years never happened and roll back the product line to 1973.

Nothing, absolutely nothing Gibson has produced since then has been dramatic enough to make up for their moving away from the comprehensive yet succinct line-up they offered in the early 70's.

Whadda they make now, 18 different versions of the Les Paul guitar? Puh-leeze! If you can't do it with a Custom, a Standard, a Deluxe, a Signature, or a Recording, you sure can't do it with a "Joe Perry Signature" (unless you define it as "look like a poser").
Raise QC, and if possible, lower prices.
Drop absurd models.
Have the classic stuff available as cheaply as the modern stuff (chambers, etc...)

And get me some nice LPs.
Oh, more Special models.
Hey Mr 62!  Good to have you back! How's the little one?  

Gibson?  It might be too late - Mr McCarty has passed away taking a lot of the good information with him.  Right now, the best thing that Gibson has is that brand.  Everyone knows a Gibson guitar is supposed to be a good instrument.  I think I would take most everything else, including the production, the marketing group, the current product line, the upper executives, and ditch it unless there was a very good reason not to.  Then I would look hard at what PRS is doing and copy the good stuff of that operation.  I would also likely roll back the product line dramatically to a few customer favorites.  I'd recognize that most Gibson customers don't want new funky designs, funky ass tuners automated tuners, and built-in gizmos. If I wanted to go and work with funky new technology, I'd create a different brand for that (Hey wait!  Doesn't Gibson own Steinberger?  :icon_biggrin:).

Then I'd set some goals for the organization (both quantitative - eg: "Here's some sales targets" and qualitative "are the on-line guitar boards loving us or hating us?"), then run it for 6 months and see where we were.  Then tweak as appropriate.
I'd sit at the end of the line and do QC.  Anyone who produces a sub-standard guitar gets beaten with it.
I would buy a bigger yacht than my predecessors, fill it with more attractive women than they dared, stock the lower decks with nothing but the best liquors, and set sail into the sunset knowing my bank account will never be wanting, even with things just the way they are.
Change the name to heritage and stay in kalamazoo... oh yea and brace for the lawsuit..
They have to get back to doing the simple stuff right and forget about the 10,000 models as was already said. Fire with extreme vengeance everyone currently at R&D, and spend all the money making sure necks are straight, things are glued on properly, and fretwork is done right. Focus on becoming as good as their subsidiary making cheap Asian copies of their own product.
Ditch the idea that they're going to be an innovative company - they clearly suck at it, a robot LP is like a hybrid hummer. Make a good quality archtop under 2 grand. I played a really great Gibbo about a year ago - the whatsisname from Green Day signature LP jr. The thing totally wailed, solid as a rock, great neck, cost about a grand. They can do it if they actually care to try.
A long time ago, Gibson stopped building instruments for musicians, instead building consumer items to please stockholders under the facade of "guitar".

If I owned the name, I would simply build a competive instrument for today's musician, putting the guitarist FIRST, and shareholders in second place to product quality.

Lower their prices to $200 for a LP.  That should kill all the clones coming out into the market with comparable quality and playability. Scrap the Epiphone line altogether and label these original Gibbys as Gibby 2 very much like Armani and Armani Express or Toyota and Lexus.
Maybe lower the prices to just enough to keep the company going and paying the workers for a year or two. Let the new QC be shown like that. Then raise the prices to increase profit, but not being ridiculous.
Reintroduce the good old models (junior, special, l6/5-S, etc...) as part of regular production. The custom shop can do custom stuff, but not what people go for normally, such as 59 LPs.
I'd give control of the company to the guys who made the Fuji Gen factory what it is.  They've made better Fenders and Gibsons than the American ones for years, all while making actual *smart* engineering changes to the little things.

Either that, or I'd introduce my own personal list of rules for success:
1) Don't suck.

Who needs more than one rule when that one covers it so totally?

I'd close the factory, buy a crap load of Heritage guitars and write Gibson on the headstock.

Not really, but I'd definitely demand a QC crackdown and I'd stop focusing on the stupid limited edition collector crap and robot guitars and build stuff that players actually want.  I'd lower the prices a lot too.  And I would make each model have a couple different neck shape options, a wider variety of colors, and the contoured heel available on all of the LPs. 

I just wish they would make some attempt to find out what people want. 
Someone mentioned going back to the 70s, but to me, that was when Gibson started having troubles with QC and being a part of a multi national global group known as Norlin.

QC seems to be a main argument.

So I'd have each instrument ID'd by serial numbering system and tracked back to the workers who made the instrument. IF it happens to go out the door, and then has a warranty claim later on, I'd make sure the cost of the warranty claim goes out of the pockets oof those who made the instrument AND the QC guy who OK'd it go.

Another issue that seems to get a decent run here is the number of instruments they make.

It certainly needs paring back to a more reasonable level and priced more appropriately ( I have the feeling that the more popular models are bumped up in price a bit, to pay for the models that they have to discount to sell).

There should be a main stable of models that people know is Gibson's core line. LP Junior, Standard & Custom, SG Standard, ES 335, ES 175, L5 etc.

One standardised model of each of these core instruments. Finish variation and optional gold plating on those models that carry that at present should be the only optional extras. (Why they went to considerable expense to research and introduce a new 2008 LP Standard and THEN turn around and offer the older version is beyond me. You either leave the instrument as it is or you take the risk and improve the model.)

Oh, and I'd look very closely at the signature lines they have and the Inspired By series too. IMHO, the only signature line that should be made by Gibson are the Les Paul guitars!
OzziePete said:
Oh, and I'd look very closely at the signature lines they have and the Inspired By series too. IMHO, the only signature line that should be made by Gibson are the Les Paul guitars!

What about poor Chet Atkins?  :sad:
Simply stated, drop the corporate b.s and start making higher quality products, offer custom shop items at a much lower price than they are now, and build guitars real players want.  :headbang1: