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gibson quality failing?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by airrick, Apr 16, 2006.

  1. airrick


    Dec 4, 2005
    lately i've been hearing such things, ive been looking at a thunderbird, but i don't want to put down 1.7 grand for a bass thats falling down at the seams, so should i stay away from it?
  2. Short answer: Yes.

    Gibson's standards have been dropping for quite some time, even the likes of US-made Les Pauls and SGs, their bread and butter, are suffering.

    Us bassists felt it pretty badly earlier on after the pig's dinner they made of Tobias and Steinberger, and it's filtered through the whole company now.

    Having said that, apparently this doesn't apply to Epiphone.... it seems the Far East Epiphone stuff is often better made than the authentic Gibson stuff now. Drop $500 on an Epiphone Thunderbird instead, that's what I suggest.
  3. zazz


    Feb 27, 2004
    agreed on the epi.....budget for a proffesional setup because it will need it more so than the gibsons but you will still be ahead in build quality.
  4. Akito


    Dec 1, 2003
    That's just wrong!
  5. Masher88

    Masher88 Believe in absurdities and you commit atrocities

    May 7, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    Yeah, Gibson has been riding on thier name for a while now. Our guitarist got a Les Paul Custom last year...3000 bucks! It's a nice guitar, but definately not 3k worth! Think of the bass you could get for 3 large! I know a guy that got a Gold Top Les Paul in 1990 for....900 bucks! That same guitar is now almost 2000! No change in the specs...just the name is what you pay for. The top Epiphone stuff feels right up there in quality with the Gibson stuff. Maybe a pickup change and some new tuners if you really want top shelf quality, but for thousands less, you can't go wrong! Sorry for all the guitar references, but that's all I'm in contact with. I do know one guy with a Les Paul Bass...I hate it, but he likes it, so I can't really comment on that. Plus, I don't know what he paid for it. It feels like a 600-800 dollar bass, though.
  6. FeelTheGroove


    Dec 2, 2005
    I guy I work with bought a Les Paul recently and the nut needed filing, the fingerboard needed a re-stain to look right, and the factory setup was garbage. Gibson should be ashamed of themselves selling a guitar for $2,000 and they cant even send it out the door with a decent setup. Yet you could buy a $700 Ibanez made in korea that is practically flawless. "Made in USA" doesnt seem to really mean what it used to.
  7. 69'Vette


    Jan 28, 2003
    Cedar Hills, UT
    Of 10 or 12 guys I know who've bought new Gibson basses in the last year, two of them sent them back for replacement because they were so bad (mostly cosmetic issues but some structural). One guy went through two more replacements before he got a good one! Of the others, most of the basses had some little issue with fit and finish. A few were pretty much perfect. I wouldn't recommend disregarding Gibson completely though (I love the sound of most Gibson basses). Buy one used. I have three post '87 Thunderbirds and I've never paid more than $1000 for one. I've played a few newer Les Pauls as well and they're KILLER sounding basses. Sooner or later I'll get one of those as well. BTW, the new double cut Les Paul basses are another sleeper in the LP bass line. Great, quality instrument.
  8. loendmaestro

    loendmaestro Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2004
    Vienna VA
    I've related this story many times here, but I'll do it again.

    I ordered a 2001 T-bird direct from the Gibson factory. When it arrived it was missing 2 screws from the pickguard & the nut was cut so badly the A string was virtually unplayable. It cost me an additional $200 bucks to get it up to snuff.
    That being said, after getting the work done it's one of my favorite & best sounding basses. A fave of all the guys I play with too.
    But I'd NEVER buy a brand new Gibby again. Look for a used one because I guarantee you ANY local luthier will set it up better than whatever Helen Keller clown is on the Gibson QC team that day.
  9. paul n

    paul n

    May 6, 2005
    Arden, NC
    Well, don't buy one blind (ie don't buy one online or via mail order), make sure you examine it from top to bottom and really play it to make sure all is OK.

    The local shop is a Gibson dealer with a good selection, and it's a crap-shoot. Some are (nearly) flawless and some, well, I'm not sure how some I've seen got past the QC people. The one T-Bird my shop got in a while ago had a problem list a mile long. The finish was orange-peeled from to to bottom and was deeply dimpled along the steps on the body and headstock. The elctronics were awful, and the thing hummed like no other bass I've ever played, not a light single-coil hum, but a nasty buzz. That said, it sounded huge. I saw another one at GC in Boston with not finnish problems, but the elctronics still hummed.

    Again, it's like ANY brand, try it out, (DON"T BUY BLIND!), and look it over; if it's good go for it! It's not like it will just fall apart at some point just because it's a GIbson. Do keep in mind, it might take a while to find one that's just right; basses aren't Gibson's main focus, and I get the impresion they don't watch them that closesly. Or, check with your deadler, I know mine can and has special ordered Gibsons with the provision that the local rep' hand pick the instrument.

    Good Luck!

    ~Paul :)
  10. Like lots of companies with a long history, some of it is checkered. They reached their zenith in the 1950s and started down hill in 1961 when they went to 2 piece plywood for the backs of the L-5CES and the Super 400CES. I hope they are at their nadir now, because I wouldn't want to see any company producing worse garbage. But like XO-Bionic said, the Korean made Epiphone instruments are decent, much better than the US made Gibson stuff. So if you can't find or afford an older Thunderbird, look for the Epi version.

    Some years back a friend of mine was getting started learning instrument making. He got a job with Tobias while Michael was still with the company. He was extremely excited to be learning from one of the best. Then Mike left. A couple months later he was in the drying room when the new boss walked in for the first time. He walked down the line of drying basses and said, "Ship it, Ship it, Ship it, Ship it", as he passed each one, followed by "I mean now!". So all those basses got put in their cases while still wet and arrived at their new proud owners with little pieces of orange case fuzz embedded in the finish. My friend found another job.
  11. MotorTed


    Apr 16, 2006
    CT, USA
    The last Gibson bass I purchased was a "Blackbird." I bought it blind-mail order and I've never bought an instrument that way before. It was perfect-flawless and sounded awesome. In my neck of the woods, you can't walk in and try out a gibson bass. The retailers won't usually stock them. In the past I bought a LP and a T-bird that were sitting around for quite some time. If anyone knows where I can drive anywhere in the New England area and play a new T-bird studio 5 string, drop me an e-mail. I would appreciate it.
  12. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Time for a reality check.

    Take a good look at the TB "Basses for Sale" listings and see what you can get for ~ $1700. The Gibson pales in comparison. Plus, when you deal with a fellow TBer, you know you're going to a decent instrument at a great price.

    Just my .02.

  13. WOW.

    ...just wow.:eek: :eek:
  14. steve4765630


    Feb 27, 2006
    I'm in the retail end of the guitar & bass business. The Thunderbirds I have seen have been very nice, but I can't say that everything I've seen from Gibson. There are always going to be a few duds, but no more than the Fender USA stuff. They do still make a killer guitar at a fair price though. While the Custom Shop stuff is expensive, it's all a matter of relativity. We get the customers how want exactly what they want with no exceptions. In this case they are asking for an expensive one-off guitar. It is worth it to them, who are we to say it's not? The nice thing is that they have "faded" series now which includes the Les Paul, SG and Flying V. They just have an oil finish. This takes a few less days to manufacture, therefor dropping the price substantially. You can get and USA made SG with a gig bag for under $700. It plays great, sounds great and will last forever. Back to bass. One of my co-workers just rolled an all Vintage White Thunderbird. Wow! Sweet! Killer tone too. I've seen the Epiphone stuff and it's OK for the money, but nothing spectacular. Gibson isn't perfect and being in the business, I've heard some horror stories, but overall they are a good company.

    A few things to look for when shopping:

    1. Gibson - Look for finish issues, factory setup can be iffy depending on climate changes. Look out for low cut nuts.

    2. Fender - NECK WARPAGE right out of the box, be very careful!

    3. Taylor (come on now, they make one bass) - Finish issues, orange peel pock marks

    4. Ibanez - Neck warpage, bad factory setup, poor wiring/soldering, truss rod issues, sharp fret ends

    5. Warwick - poor factory setup, usually need a big tweaking

    6. Tobias (Gibson) - finish issues, big neck gaps (Bolt-on models)

    7. Schecter - bad factory setup, poor woods on occasion (knots, etc.)

    8. Pedulla - the crappiest truss rod tool ever, they strip the truss nut very easily

    I could go on, but will stop here.

    Ernie Ball MM stuff is the ONLY company I've never heard any complaints about. I'm sure there are a few though. Later
  15. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    This doesn't make any sense, if it was still wet it couldn't be buffed and how would it be assembled and strung up without ruining the finish? If it's wet enough to pick up fuzz from the case it would be ruined trying to assemble it. Is this story supposed to be from the Burbank facilities?
  16. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine

    I would add this, as well, based on personal experience from multiple new basses on the wall at multiple dealers...

    Nuts cut poorly

    Poor fret levels

    Sharp fret ends

    Poor factory setups

    Basically, the dealer has work to do right out of the box if they wanna' sell the bass any time soon at the price they'll have to get for it.

    Gibson has improved in recent years, but not enough to say they've "fixed the problem". In fact, at todays prices, far from it.
  17. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    I would personally qualify this as "...at least to Gibson." Fender has some QC issues, but IMHO not nearly as bad, and they don't ask as crazy prices for their stuff... but when they do (Custom Shop), they ARE perfect right out of the box. Don't wanna' stray from the topic too far, but to complete the thought, I will say I think the Fender CS stuff is still overpriced, but at least it's a lot closer than the Tobias stuff is.

    Other "USA" builders are mostly luthiers, and I would say "made in the USA" stands for something there.

    Problem is, generally, when you have a factory atmosphere, folks don't take personal ownership of the product, and it's HARD to get them to really care about quality... just get it out the back door, punch your time clock and go home. :(
  18. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    According to what I've read, Epiphone recently opened their own plant in China, so currently during this transition, when you buy an Epi it could be made in Korea, or could come from their Chinese plant. Either way, I'm convinced this company is proud and enthusiastic about making guitars and basses. I recently bought an Epiphone "dot" series "B" stock for $199.00 on MF - what a great guitar - it came from the Chinese Epiphone plant. I just like buying from a company that actually likes what they are doing too. I'm becoming a huge Epiphone fan, and the strange part is, I'm actually more proud of my Epiphone gear than I am of my Gibson Les Paul standard, which is a nice guitar, but I don't think they built it with the same passion that Epiphone has and the price difference is astronomical.
  19. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Tobias reached out to me for a deal about 2 years ago, and someone that works for Tobias, told me not to do it. To make a long story short, he told me that the accountants are running the QC dept. They had to send Jessica Simpson's bassist 3 before he got a playable one, and he still went with another brand. The fret job was so bad on the 2nd one, that he bled all over neck from being cut by the frets. True story from someone that works at the Conway, Ark. plant.
  20. steve4765630


    Feb 27, 2006

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