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.
Gibson bridges: it's MOST amazing when they put them in the proper place. Other than that, "whatever it takes to get it right", is the thing to do.
Gibson frets: Once again, from their construction to their sticky, uncured finishes to their (nonexistent) 'customer care', modern (2001+) Gibson instruments are VASTLY OVERPRICED lovely looking objects of bullshit value. This is NOT the fault of the factory worker, it's due to the megalomaniac, Henry J., who is their CEO. Google him and the reasons for the quality issues they suffer will become apparent. All we can do is correct their sloppy work. It is truly tragic when someone brings in a NEW '59 reissue $6500 (street) Gibson only to be told it's going to take another $250-$350 worth of work to make it playable. AND....their Plek'd necks? I think a drunk monkey is programming/operating their Plek system.
Gibson is 'living off of it's laurels'. It is not the QUALITY manufacturer it used to be. I consider them the biggest "Joke" in the industry. The reason they're still in business are the uninformed brainwashed masses who buy instruments based upon those used by their idol players. Brand loyalty is a brick wall the repair folks cannot break through.
I ALWAYS recommend the Epiphone equivalent models over the Gibsons. At least with the Epi's, you are getting value for your $$$.
BTW: ALWAYS address the entire FB & frets when you do a recrown. Fretwork should be addressed as a systemic approach.
I read that Gibson simply sands the frets tops length wise to knock off the flats from leveling, and I have been able to recreate their 'look' with that method.
Brian, Paul V stated in perfect terms the way that the vast majority of Luthiers/repair people think here in North America. I have gone on quite a few times on this Forum about their total crap acoustic instruments.
About 8 years ago the local big music store had a new Southern Jumbo and a Dove for sale. I have vintage versions of both these guitars, so I thought for a hoot, I would hit a few chords on both and see what I could see on each.
About a week afterwards, one of the salesmen there asked if I had played them, and wasn't it amazing that these things were in the store? I told him Yep, I played them, and that I had vintage versions at home, and Nope, they were total crap sounding, with abysmal finishing, binding appearing and disappearing under the lacquer/paint, pretty horrid fretwork, and also sounding pretty bad too.
I sarcastically told him that if I would have given him $600 for both if they came with brand new cases I could resell.
Gibsons are $500 dollar guitars that sell for $3200 bucks , and all because of that pretty name on the headstock.
This post does not speak to the Gibson Custom Shop axes though. The folks over there are doing all that they can to make quality excellent sounding axes. They are still way overpriced, but different from all the other electrics and acoustics.
I made a few new best friends with this post! We can forget nut slots that are virtually non existant, not to mention the whole top of the nut shaved so low that you can't backfill them. Henry J. has made a nice addition to my repair load!
Not to mention the total absurdity of finding a plastic/nylon/synthetic nut on a $5000+ instrument. If there's a silver lining, their nuts are #1 on the "that HAS to be replaced" list.
I agree with Kerry's assessment of the Custom Shop's quality. Now if they'd only correct their sticky lacquer formula, those would be acceptable guitars.
But the question remains: why spend $4K on a Custom Shop LP Special when a luthier can provide you a much better high quality guitar of the same design with YOUR preference of neck shape, selection and quality of timbers, hardware, fret wire, etc., for 3/4ths of that? The answer? The power of brand loyalty and advertizing.
It's a true tragedy.
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.". ;)
All that has been said here about Gibsons is pretty dead on. I have had LOTS of issues with newer Gibsons and its very sad to see how the company has come this point... The latest problem that I ran into was on 2 brand new lefty Les Pauls. The controls work backwords from what they should. Their circuit boards are even stamped with "lefty" on them, but still are wired backwords... It's quite comical if you ask me. I assume the electronics are all wired out of country then shipped here to be installed.. It's just a guess, but I think I'm correct on that one :)
Depending on who makes the Tunamatics - Schaller, Tonepros (Japanese Gotoh originally, then Korean (I recall) - great bridges but all over the shop as they changed where they were built) and then every other manufacturer under the sun.
Some adjustments are from the pickup side, some from the stoptail side - the modern Tonepros don't require (generally) the saddles to be reversed as they have a good intonation range - same goes for modern Gotoh, whereas, the crap ABR-1 Style with it's wire retainer, loose saddles and limited intonation range has more problems than Speed Gordon (or Flash Gordon as he is titled in the USA).
So the good thing is there are so many permutations that it's basically a case of doing what the guitar wants you to do regards intonation, saddle orientation and adjustment access.
I note the thread has also sprung the lid on the quality and performance issues with Gibsons these days. Some of us cannot comment emphatically for a number of reasons but I lament any brand that has done so much for our musical heritage and was, in the past, such a giant in the tone stakes (particularly for the places it took classic Rock) being subject to such cruel embarrassment as is the present manufacturing/pricing iteration.
The old Gibson LP'S, Juniors and TV's were the inspirations for my own guitars and to replicate their sound has been a goal for many aspirational makers and builders. However, like girlfriends and cars from younger days that looked so good and went so well I prefer to remember the Gibsons as they were rather than as they are now now.
That's as nice as I can get.