Posts

Gibson: New CEO, New Vision

“We want to continue to be the most relevant, we want to be the most played and we want to be the most loved guitar brand again.”

James Curleigh and his new leadership team have a lot of work ahead of them to achieve that vision.

When you build poor quality instruments and charge a lot of money for them don’t be surprised if guitarists shop elsewhere.

I wish Gibson well. A guitar that I have held for over 40 years now is a 1976 Gibson Les Paul and it is a guitar that I will keep until I leave this planet.

Here is an interview with James Curleigh from NAMM 2019 and the changes that he is hoping to make to the company to restore the Gibson brand.

Gibson Goes Bankrupt

This was my business card way, way back in time. Telephone number and address is long gone. I elected to use my Gibson Les Paul as part of my calling card. My 1976 Les Paul was my first good electric guitar. Purchased over 40 years ago now. A Les Paul was a player’s guitar.

The brand really meant something to me back then. And perhaps it might mean something again in the future.

Things do need to change at Gibson. My observation from a post I had written about Gibson going down back in February:

Other than being a financial basket case and making shoddy guitars with a nasty CEO and disengaged employees, everything else is going well at Gibson.

From Bloomberg’s release on Gibson filing for bankruptcy:

Juszkiewicz, who has found himself at odds with creditors in recent months, will continue with the company upon emergence from bankruptcy “to facilitate a smooth transition,” according to the agreement. Court papers call for a one-year consulting deal and compensation package for Juszkiewicz. A representative for the company didn”™t respond to questions about whether Juszkiewicz will remain as CEO or in a separate role.

Getting rid of Juszkiewicz would be a great start in trying to restore the Gibson brand.

Gibson Is Going Down

The Gibson Les Paul. An iconic guitar from an iconic brand. I still have my Les Paul from 1976, over four decades now.

Whereas Fender has been able to keep its head above water, Gibson will likely fail over the next few months.

From Moody’s August 2017 rating of Gibson:

Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Gibson Brands, Inc.’s (“Gibson”) Corporate Family Rating to Caa3 from Caa2, its Probability of Default Rating to Caa3-PD from Caa2-PD, and senior secured notes to Ca from Caa3. The rating action is due to Moody’s concern with Gibson’s weak operating performance, liquidity pressure from approaching maturities, and the view that the company’s capital structure is unsustainable. The rating outlook is negative.

“We feel that Gibson’s capital structure is unsustainable due to the uncertainty over its ability to refinance debt that comes due in July 2018 and August 2018 given its very high leverage and weak operating performance,” said Kevin Cassidy, Senior Credit Officer at Moody’s Investors Service.

And this from last week’s Nashville Post:

Kevin Cassidy, a senior credit officer at Moody”™s Investors Service, says Juszkiewicz essentially has just three options: He and his team could negotiate an exchange of their debt coming due for new notes, which may not be feasible at a reasonable price. He also could be persuaded ”” or forced ”” to give up some of his equity in exchange for the debt payments. Or he may end up taking one of the most globally recognized brands that calls Nashville home to bankruptcy court.

“This year is critical and they are running out of time ”” rapidly,” said Cassidy, who last summer downgraded Gibson”™s debt rating. “And if this ends in bankruptcy, he will give up the entire company.”

Whatever Gibson was many years ago, it is not the same company today.

Gawker summed the company up a few years back:

The iconic guitar company Gibson faces seemingly endless troubles, which include an easily enraged micromanaging CEO and a product line perceived as shoddy and overpriced. Based on what we”™ve heard lately, it is not a great employer or maker of guitars.

Other than being a financial basket case and making shoddy guitars with a nasty CEO and disengaged employees, everything else is going well at Gibson.

Peter Frampton’s 1954 Phenix

Not Peter’s guitar. A copy of his guitar. Gibson will set it to you for $25,000 CAD no less. This line is being positioned as a very exclusive collector’s instrument. Gibson made only 35 of them available to the public. I have it on fairly good authority that Peter was given three of them. Always a key thing to keep in mind when buying stupidly expensive guitars. A copy is still a copy.

How much did Peter pay for the original?

Zero.

It was given to him. So now he has four of them.

Life isn’t fair.

My friends at Reverb had passed me a link to an interview that they recently did with Peter Frampton. And he tells the story about how he lost his guitar and how it came back to him decades later.

The story was covered widely back in 2012. From NPR:

That guitar ”” a shiny black number with an added pickup ”” became Frampton’s signature instrument. He continued to use it with Humble Pie, and in his solo material, played it almost exclusively for years. It even made the cover of his classic 1976 live album, Frampton Comes Alive!

In 1980, while Frampton was on tour in South America, the guitar was put on a cargo plane in Venezuela, en route to Panama. The plane crashed right after takeoff.

“Basically I’m thinking, ‘It’s gone,'” Frampton recalls. “But the thing is, I’m also sitting in a restaurant where I can see the pilot’s wife. She’s waiting in the hotel for her husband, who, unfortunately, didn’t make it. So we were all overcome, because people lost their lives as well as our complete stage of gear.”

What Frampton didn’t know is that the guitar had survived, albeit with some bumps and bruises. It fell into the hands of a musician on the Caribbean island of Curaçao, who owned it for many years before a local guitar collector spotted it and contacted Frampton. After some negotiation, the guitar was returned to Frampton last month.

Here is a relatively current shot of Peter with the Phenix (and, yes, that is the spelling for the name of this guitar).

Peter has aged. He is 67 now. I am not that far behind him. He’s still playing. And he is still playing well.

Here is Gibson’s interview with Peter about the same story.

Gibson Custom Burstdriver

There it is. The Klon Centaur. Revered as the overdrive pedal for a guitarist. There aren’t many of them, fewer than 10,000 were built and they have become collector’s items.

One is up for sale in Canada. The asking price? A mere $3,537.

If you play guitar and are chasing the holy grail of guitar tone then you have an overdrive. If you have seriously chased tone then you have many overdrives. I really cannot think of another pedal that gets changed out as often as an overdrive. Unless, I suppose, you spend several thousand dollars on a Klon. At that point, you will undoubtedly convince yourself that it is the best sounding overdrive period. Your quest for the perfection of guitar tone will have ended.

Until Gibson came out with this product innovation: the Gibson Custom Burstdriver.

A Custom Shop Les Paul Standard exhibits the finest in materials, construction and historical accuracy, making it one of the best sounding and playing electric guitars on the planet. Additionally, the innovative new Gibson Custom Burstdriver provides players built-in sonic expansion capabilities. Essentially a high-end analog overdrive pedal built into the backplate of the guitar, the Burstdriver is engaged with a quick tap of the push/push tone knob. A simple twist can transform the dry signal into anything from a fat clean boost to a warm, thick overdrive all the way to a snarling distortion. The effect is entirely true bypass and the level, tone, and gain controls can be adjusted using a guitar pick. The Gibson Custom Burstdriver Les Paul Standard is your new secret sonic weapon!

I have no idea why Gibson would do something like this. I am not alone in this opinion.

Gibson High Performance Demo

GibsonAcoustic

Gibson has a new contest for 2017:

Check out the next generation of Acoustic Guitars by demoing the new 2017 Gibson Acoustic High Performance Models and enter to win one of 10 great prizes. It”™s simple! Visit a participating dealer and take a photo of yourself demoing your favorite 2017 Gibson Acoustic High Performance model (a “2017 High Performance Model” is defined as any Gibson 2017 HP 415 W, HP 415 CEX, HP 635 W, HP 665 SB, HP 735 R, HP 835 Supreme). Enter by posting your photo to Facebook with the hashtag #GibsonAcousticHP and tell us why you love that 2017 High Performance Model. Winners will be randomly chosen February 1, 2017 from all eligible entries.

Nearest dealer for me is Cosmo Music, my favourite guitar shop in the Toronto area. Great excuse for me to take a trip to see my friends at Cosmo.

Ebay Guitar

And it is only about half a million Canadian! I wonder if my 1976 Les Paul has any chance of appreciating that way over the next 15-20 years?

Click here to buy it now. The guitar won’t last long at this price.

1959LesPaul

The Eden of Coronet

EdenOfCoronet

What exactly is Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Brands, holding in his hands?

The Eden of Coronet.

This was a collaborative work between Gibson Brands, Aaron Shum, President of Aaron Shum Jewelry, and designer Mark Lui.

The guitar is a 2014 Gibson SG, Alpine White. There are over 400 carat diamonds set in roughly 1.6kg of 18k gold.

Coronet, a brand of Aaron Shum Jewelry, created this diamond Gibson guitar to enter the Guinness Book of Records as the most valuable guitar ever made. It’s estimated value is $2 million USD.

From Gibson’s website:

The masterpiece is a joint effort of three distinct brands. The creativity comes from the process of blending ideas and cultures from different industries, which further solidifies Gibson beyond just a guitar brand. All along we”™ve been striving to expand our business to different sectors of the consumer market and ”˜Eden of CORONET”™ is definitely an important milestone for what we target to achieve.

Gibson Guitar Corp. rebranded itself in 2013 as Gibson Brands. Gibson has acquired a number of audio companies in recent years including Teac, Cerwin Vega, KRK Systems and Onkyo. Gibson Guitar Corp. is a division of Gibson Brands. And now, it seems, Gibson is involved in selling jewelry.

This particular project involved 70 or more people and roughly 700 hours to create the jewelry.

Guinness did give the piece the title of most valuable guitar ever made. As far as I can tell, it is not yet the most valuable guitar ever sold.