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Gibson a Respected Name in the Musical Instrument Business

Updated on October 8, 2011

Gibson Llyod Loar mandolin

Gibson Guitar Company

As a musician and a guitarist who began playing in the late 1960's, like many of my peers, I visited music stores often. For me it was the fun of taking down an instrument from the store racks and strumming to hear the sounds of the strings. Words like tone,sustain, mellow, harsh, and bright soon became jargon associated with my store visits while talking to salesman. I was familiar with the name Gibson who in those days were the premiere guitar builder and whose instruments were most desired. I would watch the Grand Ole Opry andgo to concerts and it was always a point of interest to see what guitars were being played. I found Gibson was the instrument of choice by many of the performers of the day.

Founded in the late 1890's by Orville Gibson, Gibson has a long history of producing quality instruments. Orville who was born in New York had moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan where he began first by making mandolins and soon as the demand became significant and the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co. Ltd., was formed in 1902. Orville used the same concept used in building mandolins by introducing an arch top guitar later using the more common flat top. The instruments were known for their craftsmanship and tone. For musicians, the Gibson tone is unmistakable to our ears.

It was in 1919 Llyod Loar came aboard the Gibson staff and the famous F-5 mandolin, now one of the most sought after by vintage collectors began to be produced. Loar was with Gibson until 1924 and his mandolins have become legendary played by such bluegrass greats as Bill Monroe. Monroe's Loar mandolin is reportedly valued at over 1 million dollars.

The Gibson Company later produce electric instruments and what musician has not desired to own and play the famous Les Paul model. For acoustic music, they type I play, Gibson guitars are phenomenal. Over the years I have owned a 1955 Country Western and a J-50. The J-45 or Jumbo are also excellent guitars and the 50's models seem to produce the most agreeable tones. Excellent woods such as Brazilian Rosewood, or East Indian Rosewood along with spruce tops are most desirable although some mahogany constructed instruments are good.

Recently the Federal government raided the Gibson Company with armed agents because they use and have previously used woods considered to be endangered. In my opinion the Feds have overstepped their bounds. Woods imported legally and sold by foreign countries in good faith even though on an endangered list seems moot since the trees have already been cut and processed. The feds seized the woods from Gibson and the whole issue is now a matter for the courts to decide. This is a travesty and another incidence where there appears to be a political agenda but that is just my opinion.

The Gibson Guitar Company presently in Nashville, Tennessee is still a great guitar builder and countless musicians seek instruments such as guitars, banjo's, and the mandolins produced by the American company.

Gibson Llyod Loar era manolin

Gibson's pre war banjo's are also in high demand for their tones


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    • Kerri McClelland profile image

      Kerri McClelland 5 years ago

      Great hub! I am not a guitar player, but do play the piano. So this was definitely interesting!

    • Cousin Fudd profile image

      RobertElias Ballard 5 years ago from From the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina

      Thanks and you're absolutely correct, tough a little less expensive, the Epiphone line is a good one. I have a friend who has a J-200 and it is a great guitar.

    • OutsideTheLines profile image

      OutsideTheLines 5 years ago from Tulsa, OK

      VERY nice hub. I much prefer Gibson to any other brand. I really hate Fender...Gibson offers a better product for a lower price. My dream acoustic is a J-200 and I would kill for an original black and white '69 explorer. Everything is amazing about both, but I'm just a poor college student so I'll have to settle for my '69 Epiphone explorer re-issue... Still a good guitar and I'm very impressed that they're the only company I've ever seen have a smaller company branch and not sacrifice quality. I would really like to tour their factory one day and get a custom. Awesome work man!

    • justmyopiniontoo profile image

      justmyopiniontoo 5 years ago

      This is a great informative hub Cousin Fudd. I love the sound of a good instrument, but can't play(my fingers just wont go where the right notes are, personally I think their afraid of getting nailed ha ha). No matter how good the player, a badly made instrument will limit their potential, while a well made instrument will amplify their talent expotentially