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Gibson quality control issues?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by cchorney, Apr 7, 2014.

  1. cchorney

    cchorney Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2010
    Meriden, CT
    So I bought a Gibson EB-13 recently at my local Sam Ash. Really like the feel of it and I liked the range of tones I could get from the dual coil tapped humbuckers.

    The sales guy told me to take it home and play it for a bit, and then bring it back in for the included initial setup. Which was good advice, as it turned out that in addition to the usual new instrument intonation issues, there were some rough edges on the frets and there was some fret buzz.

    Dropped off the bass to the in house guitar tech, and a week later the intonation was fixed and the rough fret edges were smooth, but the frets still buzzed. I was a bit miffed that it wasn't done right, but I redid the work order and left it for another week. Went to pick it up tonight and there was still fret buzz. As one might imagine, I was quite upset. The sales guy who brought out the bass for me from the back informed the store manager, who came over and explained to me that the guitar tech left him a note saying that it was basically "as good as it would get", and he (the manager) meant to talk to me before I was given the bass. The manager said they would replace the bass with a new one, and I should use the current one until it arrived.

    I'm feeling like the manager is doing right by me so that's not my issue. But he mentioned that he's sent back some Les Pauls as well, so I'm wondering if there is a quality control issue at the factory, or is this just par for the course sometimes with mass produced instruments.

  2. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Gibson is really hot and cold on quality from year to year.
  3. cchorney

    cchorney Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2010
    Meriden, CT
    Follow up:

    The new bass (still a 2013, from another store, but from instock inventory and not a display "wallhanger" model) came in. Before they had me come down and get it the did a set up on it, and there were unfixable problems with this one too. In fret range about 10 - 15 or so on the E, A and D strings, single notes would partially fret the next tone up, resulting in an almost tremolo effect. The tech said he couldn't fix it, it was a neck issue.

    Obviously this wasn't going ot work for me.

    The store manager offered to order me a 2014 model, but he wouldn't be able to give it to me for the clearance price I paid for the 2013. He offered to give me a nice discount, but frankly this had been an impulse purchase - a great sound
  4. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    It is certainly possible (even likely) that the tech at Sam Ash isn't very good. A good luthier would be the best when these problems arise. I would never get a setup at a big box store.
  5. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    These are brand new instruments. Regardless of the competency of their tech, a new instrument should never be allowed leave the factory with those sort of problems. You'd be disappointed to find a budget import with those problems, but on a prestige brand, that should never, ever happen.
  6. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    It is certainly possible (even likely) that the tech at Sam Ash isn't very good. A good luthier would be the best when these problems arise. I would never get a setup at a big box store.
    It needed a setup. Any bass that is shipped can need a setup when it arrives, no matter how good it was set up at the factory. Just go into any Sam Ash or GC and check the basses of any brand on the wall. Most of them are in dire need of a setup. Some are virtually unplayable.

    For the record, I own a newish Gibson Thunderbird, and my guitar player has three brand spanking new Gibson SGs. All 4 instruments - perfect. They all needed a setup, just like every bass I've ever purchased from a big box store. But they set up fine (with a qualified person doing the setup).
    aquateen likes this.
  7. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    You're suggesting their tech wasn't capable of a simple setup? Really?
    gsgbass likes this.
  8. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Yes, have you been to Sam Ash?
  9. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2014
    San Diego, CA
    I have it from a pretty reliable authority (an owner of a local repair shop) that right now, Gibsons are made very poorly and to steer clear. It's sad - they used to be great. Well, even great companies have periods when their leaders are clueless.
  10. FFTT


    Mar 15, 2009
    When I was prepared to go up to $3500.00 for a nice ES-335 I couldn't find even one worth than kind of asking price. The fit and finish was all over the place, the colors weren't right, it was a real disappointment.

    I ended up taking home an Ibanez AF105NT Hollow Body for $629.00 that put those Gibby's to shame.
  11. GM60466


    May 20, 2006
    Land of Lakland
    I have been disappointed with many instruments in the past 5 years. Unless you are buying a $7K Les Paul custom shop, their quality is hit or miss
  12. Gibson is hit and miss from instrument to instrument. IMO, the consumer should not be a company's quality control department. Get a refund and move on to another brand. Maybe one who actually cares about producing quality instruments.
  13. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Stewartsville, NJ
    Just play the heck out of it and the strings will even out the frets in a few years. It could even be a bit of build up of Laquer on the frets. Plus a bit of fret buzz usually doesn't make it through the amp.
  14. aquateen


    Apr 14, 2005
    Gibson is far from the only big manufacturer that has qc problems from time to time. even Fender has problems; there's plenty of threads about it on this board. yes, even Fender. I've checked out plenty of Gibson basses in music stores and not a one of them have had the problems people talk about here. heck, some of the Alembics I've seen have had serious fret sprout, which many people seem to think is a major problem with Gibsons.
  15. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Weather changes can cause wood to expand and contract, and it is entirely possible that the fretboard expanding due to humidity changes caused some of the frets to be slightly higher or lower than the other ones. If the "tech" at Sam Ash says the bass is not fixable because it needs a simple fret job, then that "tech" is definitely inept. While I wont deny Gibson QC has been a bit sketchy of late, I think this is more on the "tech" that worked on it.
  16. sq105

    sq105 Country Squire

    Jan 19, 2013
    Owen Sound, Ontario
    Sure sounds like a simple setup problem, and the shouldn't be any new gibsons out there that cant be set up.
    +1 for take to luthier

    I bought a supposedly new gibson L-5 from our national dealer's "scratch & dent" sale. I think its a '99 serial # but I bought around 2002. It is fully carved with mounted pups (not too common in electrics). There were many cosmetic problems far beyond what was advertised. I was surprised that gibson let so much simple stuff slip through quality control especially for one of its flagship instruments. However, cosmetics aside, I've played over a thousand gigs with this guitar and found its the most consistent player I've ever had. And tone, playability, feel - everything else about this guitar is top drawer cosmetics aside.

    I also had an Ibanez AF-125 - similar to FFTT's AF-105. Excellent neck I recall, it was a nice guitar. The pickups were terrible so I replaced the rhythm pickup with Bartolini J5n. I don't use the treble pup so left original in place. For the money it was a very nice guitar, but still I didn't really play it. There is indeed a difference between a $700 instrument and a $7000 one, although I understand it would be tough for many (myself included) to justify such an expense.

    Moral of the story - proof is in the pudding. I ditched the Ibanez long time ago and still have the L5.
  17. blue4


    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    Why would you buy a new bass for the price Gibson asks, and then have to take it to a luthier just to get it to play? It should be built well enough for the player or store to at least make it playable. Would someone buy a new car expecting to have to tow it to a repair shop so it can be driveable? The OP probably knows enough about playing to know if the tech is incompetent. In a world were you can gig a $299 Squier or Ibby, sometimes almost right off the shelf, it would seem like a Gibson would arrive at the store in good enough shape to play with some minor setup. Either way, the OP did the right thing IMO.
    oceanyeong and HelpImaRock like this.
  18. FFTT


    Mar 15, 2009
    The 2000 Gibson Historic RIs are considered one of Gibson's better quality control runs and the prices for used 2000-2001's reinforce that notion.

    It was 2005 when I was looking and going to 3 different stores, the Gibson selections were down right insulting.
    As mentioned above, it wasn't just the fit and finish, but lousy paint colors, really cheesy looking sunbursts, the looked and felt awful, especially getting into the $3500.00 bracket.

    There's a reason players are going to builders like Collings, Tom Anderson, Sadowsky, Suhr to get a properly built musical instrument.
  19. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    Fit and finish has been all over the place with Gibson basses for a good few years now.

    Honestly I think Epiphones have consistently better and more consistent QC.

    This is not a slam on their sound or designs, just the way the final assembly and finishing us being done. Pretty open secret if you ask me, they have become known for it unfortunately, kind of like Fender was by the late '70's.
  20. These Gibson QC threads always leave me scratching my head. The OP has good reason to be disappointed but then come comments such as being disappointed with a scratch and dent basses quality or sweeping generalizations and crazy talk about Gibson being over-priced. The Gibson basses are not Fender's and are actually less expensive when you compare prices for US fenders. SG's start at $762.00, Am specials are a grand. Faded finishes are not finish flaws, colors that you do not like are not finish flaws. I was not a fan at all of the faded brown and burst SG and LP jr's in 2013 so i did not buy one (I am not a six string guy anyway).

    With any bass, when possible play it first. If this is not possible and you receive a truly defective bass return it for a new bass rather than fixing the old one. Lemons tend to be lemons. As far as Gibson is concerned remember that all Gibson's are US made, have nitro finishes, come with hard shell cases (with the occasional exception), have a lifetime warranty and sound nothing like a Fender.

    Disclosure - I love my Gibson's. Currently I only have Gibson's but that is likely to change again this year. I have two new and one used. The Flying V bass is perfect and was $900. The SG had a minor finish flaw (upper horn and very minor) but that flaw saved me $500.00 and the bass was a demo with full warranty ($900.00). My used is an SG special six string (2011) bought on line from GC for $429.00 and is also flawless. If any would have been disappointing to me I would have returned them. I have bought used basses that were disappointing but not due to quality issues, I played them for six months and then traded them in towards something different. I usually lose about $100 on a trade but I view that as cheap for playing a bass for a year and seeing if I bond with it.