I was wondering to myself a couple of things in regards to the following:
-On Gibson bridges, is there any methodical pattern to the bridge placement between models? What I mean is all saddles pitched forward vs three sadddles pitched backwards and three forwards, intonation screws facing neck vs facing the bottom. They seem to be different every time I look at one, whether Epiphone or Gibson, cheap or high end. If I had to pick, i'd have to say three back, three forward, screws facing neck it the most usable.
-The fretwork: If I may be so bold as to to say it's not the most detail oriented? I'd love to know what the actual process is that they use in the factory. They don't seem to ever have a full crown or if they do, it's more oval looking than circular. Also, the ends don't appear to be dressed as much as just mushed off the edge of the board. Even in cases of only needing a partial recrown (and that's assuming they are level in the first place) I usually elect to do the whole board so that I can give them full crown and more dressing so that everything looks uniform.
I could go on, but that's all for now.
Things are bit wacky at the factory as noted. Some of their offerings and pricing points baffle me. The last good deal I got from Gibson was a 2007 Les Paul "Standard Faded" I think it was $1700. I replaced the pickups as a personal preference, and it is fantastic sounding and playing guitar. I have owned a lot of LPs. Maybe I got lucky? It does have the 'weight relieved' Swiss cheese holes in the mahogany - and that seems to make a huge difference in comfort and tone. Tone being the infinitely debatable topic, but this one delivers for me.
Yikes, not much love for modern Gibsons here!
Now don't go romanticizing, they have always made some pretty oddball and or poorly executed instruments, but also some pretty awesome ones.
The great thing about this company historically is their willingness to change and try new ideas: adjustable truss rods, the F-5 mandolin!, the L-00 body shape, flat tops with small top radii (pre-war J-45 anyone?), The Les Paul model, P90's, PAF's, tunomatic bridges/stop tailpieces, binding nibs etc...
On the other hand, the bad thing about this company historically is their willingness to change and try new ideas: plastic flat top bridges, screw-driver adjustable acoustic ceramic saddles, the mustache bridge, tiny frets on electric guitars, kerfed tone bars!!!, at least 3 different acoustic neck joints in a 10 year period, the POS wire-retainer less abr-1 that I recently replaced on a new ES-335, double X-bracing, thick and huge bridge plates, inconsistent fret-work and binding nibs etc...
One thing about Gibson has remained consistent, their inconsistent quality control. As I type this, I am looking at a mid 60's B-25 that had the bridge plate glued too far forward in the factory, the pin holes are in the spruce!
It's a corporation that exists to make money. As such, their products are built to a standard that's profitable for them. That could mean unacceptable fretwork on some of their brand new guitars (low end and high end), some factory worker gluing a shim to the end grain of an overset neck on a 60's hummingbird or bandsaw and toothed plane blade marks inside a pre-war Gibson flat top.
After all, only a Gibson is good enough!
I think it was Tim O'Brien who said "a Gibson is only good enough." I had a '62 J-50 with the plastic bridge, the ceramic saddle and the huge, thick, molded, tone killing plastic pick guard. Over the years I had the bridge replaced twice (the first guy blew the job), loose braces re-glued top and back, and a thin, well-made replacement pick guard. All this improved the tone quality but it never was very loud and had very little cut in a group. Probably would have been a good recording guitar but I was playing in groups where I needed it to be heard. I only took as long as I did to sell it because I had an emotional attachment--it was my first (not-so) good guitar.
If only I had found one of those then relatively cheap Loar mandolins instead of the guitar, I might have a better opinion.
Their rare good stuff had and has more to do with the integrity of the individual responsible employees than it does with any devotion to quality as a corporate value.
A prominent dealer told me a few years ago that he stopped selling new Gibson's because they were in it only for the money and required stocking of too much junk to make their relatively rare good stuff worth having.
C'est la vie!
Paul Quote BTW: I can't count the times on this forum where someone starts a post with "I'm having a problem with my new Gibson...." and I have restrained myself from posting: "Well, the problem is entirely based upon the fact that you bought a new Gibson.". ")
There was a recent one from last year here on the Forum that everyone here will remember. The gent who wanted to put some kind of a stick on plastic sheet on the back of his Bran' new Les Paul to protect it from scratches/buckle rash... .
He was quite unhappy with what we posted back, but understood by the end of the thread I think.
This Forum is not here to make friends with folks and socialize, ( although the friendliness of this Forum makes many of us hang out a bit everyday) , it's here to help new folks answer Luthierie questions.
On the opposite note, it's also not an 'old boys club' either as we have in the past been accused of.
We seem to be here to both help newer folks with questions about their projects, and to talk amongst ourselves about how to tackle 'new to us' questions on the big/odd/weird/untackled/puzzling stuff that that the BigBoys here have already figured out.
Paul said "VASTLY OVERPRICED lovely looking objects of bullshit value"
Maybe we could call it VOLLOOBV for short!
Plus one to all that Paul said - another spot-on post in my view.
I always get a kick out of the fret work too seeing just how poorly one can apply a PLEK machine to a production environment.... Not only do the crowns suck but they won't even run the machine with enough iterations to smooth out the rather obvious lines in the frets spanning the neck....
Maybe ole Henry should spend a little less time in the famous words of Tony Soprano's Mom playing "Oh poor me....." and even less time ravaging the protected forests of Madagascar exploiting the endangered and taking advantage of local conflict all for personal profit....
The oped piece that he wrote (was that really him or did he outsource that to ASIA too...) in the WSJ claiming that he got busted because of his politics and that the Obama administration stays up late at night every night plotting and scheming just how to get Him smacked of paranoia as well as the ego that Paul rightly mentioned.
Henry = Nugent with a Harvard MBA.....
We have seen one decent new Gibson in the last several years AND this one still needed several hours of work to get it set-up and playing as it should. It was also a reissue LP, $6,000.00... and after all was said and done did play and sound as well as a $2,000.00 guitar might. Such a deal...
Hopefully the minimum wage gets raised if for no other reason then to give Henry palpitations..... ;)
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