|Chapter 11 Bankruptcy|
The company states its goal is to emerge from bankruptcy, “…with working capital financing, materially less debt, and a leaner and stronger musical instruments-focused platform,"
|Gibson Factory Nashville|
|Maestro Guitar by Gibson|
Gibson Brands also owns the name Maestro, which was once a productive brand, but now has been applied to inferior guitars made in Pacific Rim countries and sold by Walmart and Amazon.
|mid 1970's Kramer metal neck guitar|
They also own the name brand Kramer, which was a guitar company started in the 1970’s by building metal neck guitars.
|1983 Kramer Pacer guitar|
Kramer guitars were a mainstay for Heavy Metal rockers and got a shot big in the arm from rocker Eddie Van Halen.
Sadly the Kramer brand was sold out to bankruptcy and purchased by Gibson Guitars. Kramer guitars are now made in Japan and Korea.
|Vintage Steinberger Bass Guitar|
|Hohner B2 Licensed by Steinberger|
|Vintage Pre-Gibson Tobias Bass|
|1941 Kalamazoo KG-14 guitar|
Gibson still owns the Kalamazoo brand name, but has not used it on instruments since the mid-1960’s.
|1930's Dobro Angelus|
Gibson Brands also purchased the Dobro brand name of resonator guitars. This company started in 1928 and produced acoustic steel guitars, and guitars that are used by Bluegrass, and Blues performers. There was much turmoil within the company, and eventually the remaining Dopyera brothers established OMI, the Original Musical Instrument Company in 1967.
|1967 Mosrite D-100 Dobro|
Gibson's version of these guitars are made under the Dobro brand, offshore under the Epiphone brand.
|Valley Arts Guitar|
|Garrison G20 guitar|
|1970's Slingerland |
Buddy Rich Drum set
Non-guitar brands owned by Gibson include the Slingerland Drum Company which once produced the best drums ever made and was founded in 1912. The company continued flourishing until the 1970’s and ‘80’s when the ownership changed multiple times.
In 1994 Gibson Brands acquired it, and demanded that in order for a retail business to sell Gibson guitars, they must sell Slingerland drums. Individually owned music stores could not comply with this demand. It not only killed off Slingerland Drums, but caused smaller dealers to lose their Gibson franchise.
Gibson also purchased four piano manufacturing companies. Count them; four piano companies!
One of the oldest piano manufacturer in the United States was Wurlitzer, and was established by Franz Rudolph Wurlitzer in Ohio in 1861. By 1880 he was building and selling pianos.
|1960's Wurlitzer 140b Electric Piano|
Gibson Brands acquired Wurlitzer, Baldwin, Hamilton, and Chickering Piano companies. All were popular brands and once manufactured in the United States, but now are made offshore in Korea. Out of all of the piano companies that Gibson acquired, only Baldwin pianos are still in production.
|Vintage Baldwin |
baby grand piano
The Baldwin Piano Company was started in 1857 and began building pianos in 1880 in Cincinnati, Ohio and made some of the most popular pianos in the world. My own father worked for the company when he was a young man. In 1961 the Baldwin Company began manufacturing organs. By the 1970’s Baldwin not only had acquired the guitar company Burns of London, but Gretsch Guitars as well.
|Baldwin United Stock certificate|
The piano and organ business remained until 2001 when the company once again was on the verge of bankruptcy and sold their assets to Gibson Brands. Gibson maintained a small staff at the Baldwin Arkansas factory to build artist grand pianos. The main piano manufacturing is done in South Korea. Hamilton Pianos, were a subsidiary of the Baldwin Piano and Organ Company and were acquired by Gibson with the Baldwin acquisition.
|1854 Ad for Chickering and Sons |
The Chickering Piano Company was a Boston Massachusetts based company that started building pianos in 1832. By 1853 the name was changed to Chickering and Sons.
Jonas Chickering made great developments and improvements to the modern piano. By 1985 the company went out of business and the assets were acquired by the Wurlitzer Piano company, which eventually went to Gibson Brands.
|Onkyo TX-8160 Stereo receiver|
Gibson Brands includes a division known as Gibson Innovations which owns multiple audio manufacturing companies, including the Onkyo Corporation, which also makes Pioneer Brands.
|Teac Tascam DA-78HR|
Gibson owns both the TEAC Tascam Companies which manufacturers recording and audio equipment.
|KRK powered monitors |
and 2 x 2 audio interface
They also own the KRK Systems company which manufactures audio equipment used by DJ’s. Prior The audio company acquisitions occurred between 2011 through 2014.
|Raid on Gibson Factory|
In 2009 and 2011 agents from the United States Fish and Wildlife Department raided Gibson and seized illegally imported ebony, and rosewood from India that was questionably obtained.
These were violations of the Lacey Act of 1900 that protects fish and wildlife, including plants, to preserve species. The Act was amended in 2008 to include wood illegally harvested.
|Fish and Wildlife Service |
raid Gibson factory
One other issue that I am aware of is that in 2011, Gibson pulled the plug on many of their loyal franchise holders, awarding much of their business to Guitar Center, Musician's Friend, and other large music retailers. I visited one of my favorite music stores this past week. They had been selling Gibson products for years, but there was no sign of a Gibson guitar in sight.
At one time Gibson attempted to sell some inferior instrument direct to the public through an online website called Musicyo. Many of these budget instruments were low quality Pacific Rim knock-offs of Fender Stratocaster style guitars under the Kramer brand. These were made with cheap parts, such as PVC material for pickups, wiring, nuts and fret markers. Not all of those products were bad. Apparently the venture was not successful as Gibson abruptly shut down the web site.
|Gibson Factory Memphis|
Last year Gibson announced it was looking to sell off it's plant in Memphis to consolidate manufacturing to the facility in Nashville, Tennessee. Their acoustic guitar facility is headquartered in Bozeman, Montana.
Gibson was not the only company to go on a acquisition spree in the past few decades.
|Fender Owned Brands|
The fiasco from back in the 1960's and 70's when the Baldwin Piano company made a futile attempt to venture into the guitar manufacturing business is legendary.
Reading this history of other musical instrument manufacturers is a real eye opener. Piano companies, brass and wind instrument manufacturers, and some guitar business have all experienced financial ups and downs, and some were eventually consolidated or purchased by other companies before they folded.
|Norlin era |
Gibson's turnaround plans include giving some of the company's lenders equity ownership, while its lenders have agreed to an operating loan of up to $135 million to keep the company afloat. The company sells over 170,000 guitars annually in more than 80 countries and says that it sells over 40 percent of all electric guitars costing more than $2,000.
|Gibson Factory Bozeman, Montana|
No changes will be made to its guitar manufacturing business, and all Gibson and Epiphone branded guitars are expected to continue in production uninterrupted.
I sincerely hope that Gibson will emerge from this chapter in their history as a stronger, leaner, and smarter company. Gibson guitars are an iconic American brand with a incredible history of innovation. May they concentrate on what they do best; build incredible guitars.
Click on the links under the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for further reading.
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