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Gibson ain’t Giving Us Any Love

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by StatesideRambler, Nov 16, 2018.

  1. StatesideRambler


    Jul 1, 2015
    I’m in Memphis for a day and went to the Gibson “factory tour” or thought I did. There’s a lot of building there with dumpsters outside, signs on doors aiming you to other doors, xx,000 sq. ft. commercial real estate For Lease signs and when I got to the actual tours entrance a sign at the counter read “All today’s tours are fully booked.” or something to that effect. Talking with a security guard at the “gift shop” I learned that, “the dust collection system is down so there’s not much going on.” The other guy who was [I guess] running the gift shop had someone else to talk to so I got ignored. There were lots of guitars on display, mostly LP and 335 but not one bass. I have no official or business basis for this but my bet is that Gibson Memphis is going away before long. Too bad. I’d looked forward to the tour and to a better impression than this.

    I hope the new CEO has a plan. I hope it works. If not, I have my Epi JCB.
    AlexanderB likes this.
  2. Gaolee

    Gaolee Official leathers tester and crash dummy

    I thought they had already announced that it was closing down. Memphis isn't exactly the ideal climate for making things out of wood.
    MCF, CentralCoastBass and gebass6 like this.
  3. B-Mac

    B-Mac Sorting Things Out Supporting Member

    You can always go to China to get the Epi tour of the Epi factory. To me that is one of the reasons for the downfall of Gibson. Too many think Epi is Gibson. It probably won’t matter soon as they’ll probably both be in the same Chinese factory by 2019.

    What peplexes me is why does this work for Fender with Squier. Sooner or later I bet Fender will move to China since so many say their Squier is better than their American Fender. Fender will say hey why kill ourselves making the American model when so many are convinced the Squier is better even though it uses inferior woods and chinese pot metal. I mean why bother really?
    jd56hawk likes this.
  4. B-Mac

    B-Mac Sorting Things Out Supporting Member

    Are they really closing the Memphis Factory? That is heretical! Will they be making any thing in the USA?
  5. MattSasquatch


    Nov 12, 2018
    It's sad that the value of the American made gear isn't as great as it once was. It seems there was day where it felt awesome to be able to buy that American Made Fender or that American Made Les Paul. Now, it almost seems too easy to buy a Chinese made instrument and swap electronics out and have a killer bass for a fraction of the cost (I'm guilty of this myself, but I do want an American made bass down the road). Kinda wish the value of the American made gear would rise up again. Not necessarily in price, but in value of pride of owning an instrument that's American made that you know is a much better made instrument.
  6. mikeoso

    mikeoso Acoustic Curmudgeon

    Feb 14, 2014
    eastern Iowa
    I know it's a hot topic, and not looking for a fight, but it sounds like someone is saying that wood and workmanship don't create the sound when it comes to electric basses. If the only things needed to make that Chinese BSO sound and play as good as the US item is electronics and tweaking, and the price is half or less, what does the American one actually have going for it?

    I would point out that you don't hear a lot of people claiming that an acoustic Epi is as good as a US made Gibson...and nothing you can do to it will make it sound and play as well. Maybe that's why you also aren't hearing rumbles about closure coming from Bozeman.
    el jeffe bass and ajkula66 like this.
  7. MattSasquatch


    Nov 12, 2018
    I'm definitely not saying that a Squier or Epiphone with upgraded electronics will be better than a Fender or Gibson. The point I was trying to make was you can take a cheaper, Chinese bass or guitar, make some improvements with electronics, and get something sounding very good for less than an American made one.

    But, I will say even then, you won't quite get the sound of an American made, nor the quality or playability of an American. Just, it seems taking the cheaper stuff and doing so many upgrades has become more popular in recent years.
  8. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I can't recall any new Gibson bass that I could afford without saving hard for 3mos to buy
    nor do I think they've made anything lately other than the old EB / SGs that I'd even want
    Thick McRunfast likes this.
  9. mikeoso

    mikeoso Acoustic Curmudgeon

    Feb 14, 2014
    eastern Iowa
    I did get that, Matt. What I was sneaking up on is that in electric instruments it appears people will settle for that lesser quality if it's "good enough" and a lot cheaper. I'm constantly bemused by the number of people on TB who have one or two or five DOZEN inexpensive import basses that they mess with a lot, when for the same total investment they could have a couple of really high end basses. Is someone better off with twelve $200 basses than two $1200 basses? I play pretty well strictly acoustic, and in that world there is nowhere to hide. You either spend for the good stuff or live with downmarket sound.
  10. MattSasquatch


    Nov 12, 2018
    Ahh, I can feel that, and you are absolutely right. It's almost like saying "more is better", but really, is more better? There's only so much you can do to a $200 dollar bass. Don't get me wrong, I love my Squier Jazz that I put new pups in, but it will never be a $1,200 bass.

    Being primarily a drummer, yeah it's hard to buy a cheap kit and cheap cymbals and have a great sound. As with acoustics, you will definitely hear and a feel a difference between $500 spent and $2,000 spent. And there is a sense of "pride" when you save up so long for that expensive and high quality instrument that you just love it even more and really cherish it.
    lowdownthump likes this.
  11. mikeoso

    mikeoso Acoustic Curmudgeon

    Feb 14, 2014
    eastern Iowa
    3 months? Is that a long time to save up? Seriously, I had no idea. When I upgraded from my first Alvarez to a Martin I had to save for four years. But maybe you have more discretionary income than I had 40 years ago.
  12. mikeoso

    mikeoso Acoustic Curmudgeon

    Feb 14, 2014
    eastern Iowa
    Yup. 50 years ago when I was a drummer, you knew you had to work a couple years delivering pizzas to get that set of Ludwigs, and the Zildjians to go on it. But you also knew you'd never need anything else.
  13. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I got about the same DI now in retirement as I've always had as an adult, an average of $300mo to play with, so figuring an affordable Gibson like the old EB-2 style of a few years back would be $700ish + tax yeah, 3mos. I'd croak even considering saving for longer than that lol but 4yrs? good gravy, you were dying for that Martin, good for you!
  14. blue4


    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    Oh good we're doing the Gibson thing again. "Look how much I've spent on my bass!"

    Frankly, I wouldn't hold Gibson up as a pinnacle of American quality. We make better things then those. IMO.
    CentralCoastBass likes this.
  15. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Here's my Gibson...

    Wait, I don't have one.
  16. SpazzTheBassist


    Jun 20, 2006
    Folks say that on TB but, over the years, this is what Ive noticed about that statement:

    1) Some folks say that because they want to believe their purchase dollar value is justified and are seeking others who have had a similar purchase experience under a similar budget --- this is, more or less, a confirmation bias

    2) When dealing with subjective variables, such as the word "better", its easy to swap criteria for "Quality" with criteria for "Utility".....I don't think most folks believe a Squier is better quality than a USA Fender , but - because each and every instrument is as varied as each and every player - a Squier's "Utility" in the hands of any particular player has the potential be superior to its American counterpart for that player
  17. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    The Fender USA factory is about a hundred yards from the Fender Mexico factory. They swap parts and labor all the time. No need for an expanded relationship with China when you already have basically one factory half in the US and half in Mexico. The labor there is cheap enough.

    The problems I see for the electric guitars side of Gibson are these.

    1) Gibson guitars are mostly considered rock guitars. Sure, a few hollow bodies make it into the jazz world. But hardly any country artists use them. Virtually no pop artists do. Meanwhile Fender is all over the place. They are the most popular rock guitars, country guitars, and probably pop guitars. And there isn't enough of a rock market these days to support a whole guitar line.

    2) They simply haven't made a bass that appeals to the masses. Sure, the Thinderbird is iconic. But I rarely ever see one out in the wild. A couple of other Gibson models have their fans. But those fans make up a tiny percentage of the bass market.

    3) PRS ate that Les Paul market up a while back. These days I see a lot more PRS guitars with two chrome top humbuckers than I do Gibsons. PRS took a HUGE chunk of Les Paul fans with them.

    They put all of their eggs in the Slash and Zack Wylde (sp) basket. There aren't many rock icons inspiring young rockers to go out and buy a Les Paul. And baby boomers can only relive the glory days with so many collector guitars.

    To me, they just aren't as popular as they used to be. I have filled in with a couple dozen artists/bands in the last year or two. I don't recall seeing one Gibson guitar. Tons of Fender, PRS and custom Super Strat and Tele guitars. My current guitar player has over a dozen guitars. Not one Gibson. The one guy a know who was a Les Paul freak switched to PRS a decade ago and hasn't looked back.

    Be honest. How many Les Paul players do you work with as compared to Fender players? How many Les Paul guitars do you see at concerts or on TV?

    Not many...... especially compared to how much of the market they controlled from the 60s through the 80s.

    I think to younger generations they are just kind of ......meh.
  18. ajkula66


    Sep 23, 2016
    Why ? Their legendary stuff was made in Kalamazoo, not in Memphis.

    If they want the brand to survive, they most certainly will.
  19. Walked into a music store as a youngster who just started playing. Some dude was playing one of these, it sounded and looked remarkable.

  20. Last weekend I was out at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. There was a student jazz band (or a student pop band with a horn section -- they were mostly playing instrumental arrangements of pop and rock songs, of which I recognized several but now remember only "Let's Go" by the Cars) playing outdoors near the main cafeteria, and the bassist, rather surprisingly, was playing a Thunderbird. I didn't get close enough to see if it was a Gibson or an Epiphone, but it sounded good.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2018
    MCF and lowdownthump like this.

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