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Gibson Guitars

Gibson Les Paul
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Gibson Flying V
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Gibson Nikki Sixx
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Gibson Archtop
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Gibson SG
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Gibson guitars USA was founded by Orville Gibson in the late 1880's as a maker of fine quality mandolins. The demand for his mandolins and guitars was such that he soon formed the Gibson Guitar Company and acquired new factory facilities at Parsons Street, Kalamazoo in Michigan state.

Throughout the 1920's and 1930's the demand for acoustic instruments was very high. However, in the 1940's guitarists were beginning to look for ways to increase the volume of their guitars, which were tending to get lost when playing in big bands as they were having to compete with brass instruments, pianos and percussion. With this in mind, Gibson Guitars started to produce an F hole style archtop acoustic guitar with a single coil pickup, the P90, which is still in use today 70 years on. Another solution was the lap steel guitar which, fitted with a pickup and played through an amplifier, gave players the opportunity to have an instrument that was loud enough to compete.

Around the same time, Les Paul, a popular guitarist of the time, was experimenting with trying to increase the volume of his acoustic guitar using a pickup. His first attempts involved sticking a record player needle into the body of his acoustic guitar and having it play through his record player. It worked, but not very well! After various different experiments, Les Paul became convinced the answer was to have a manufacturer produce a guitar that was not acoustic but was made from a block of solid wood, as the guitar would be able to be played at higher volumes without the player having feedback problems. Les Paul took his idea to several major guitar companies but received little positive response. Finally he convinced Gibson Guitars to adopt his idea for a solid body electric guitar and in 1952, after a few prototypes, the first production model Les Paul was created. The resulting Les Paul standard model was originally only offered with a gold coloured finish as Les Paul wanted the colour to indicate that the Gibson guitar was of the highest quality. There were teething problems however, as such an instrument had never been produced before. These included problems with the neck angle of the guitar, the bridge, the power of the pickups (they were too powerful) and the playability.

During the 1950's Gibson Guitars continued to produce the Les Paul standard as well as other models such as the Les Paul Custom, Les Paul Junior and Les Paul Special. By the start of the 1960's the popularity of the Gibson Les Paul models had decreased as more models from other makers appeared for sale. Gibson Guitars decided to end production of the Les Paul model in 1960 and introduced the SG model in its place. This guitar was a radically different one from the Les Paul. It offered the player a guitar that was much lighter in weight as well as a body design allowing easier access to the higher frets. The guitar was available as the SG Junior ( one P90 pickup ), the SG special ( 2 P90 pickups ), the SG Standard ( 2 humbucking pickups) and finally the top of the line SG Custom featuring 3 humbucking pickups.

Around this time, Gibson also introduced their ES range of Gibson guitars with a slim body aimed at jazz guitarists. The ES335 is still used today by rock, jazz, blues and pop guitarists who favour the lighter body weight and its typical Gibson guitar tone. Gibson acoustics have been popular since the 1930's and many of their models have iconic status amongst acoustic guitar designs. The J200 model was much used by artists such as Elvis. The J45 and the J160E were firm favourites with The Beatles and many players use their Dove and Hummingbird acoustic guitars today. Although Les Paul sadly passed away in 2009 his legacy still lives on and his Les Paul model is still used by many top guitarists today.

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