Gibson Guitar – History Timeline Business Strategy

Gibson Guitar

Gibson Guitar was founded in 1974 and is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Gibson became the world’s best-known and most respected maker of musical instruments. The traditional motto “Quality, Prestige & Innovation” now applies to a large family of companies that make and sell the world’s finest guitars, basses, banjos, mandolins, drums, keyboards, amplifiers, strings, and accessories.

Nashville Tennesse Downtown
Nashville Tennesse Downtown

Gibson Guitar produces musical instruments. Products include electric guitar and bass, acoustic guitar/bass, mandolin, banjo, amp/processor, Accessories, drums, pianos, band instruments, jukeboxes, Vending machines, and household appliances are included.

Les Paul
Les Paul - American jazz, country, and blues guitarist

The Gibson Les Paul is a solid body electric guitar that was first sold by the Gibson Guitar Corporation in 1952. Les Paul was one of the pioneers of the solid-body electric guitar, and his prototype, called the Log, served as inspiration for the Gibson Les Paul. Paul taught himself how to play guitar, and while he is mainly known for jazz and popular music, he had an early career in country music

The Gibson Les Paul is one of the most popular guitars in the world. Some of the best rock musicians in history have looked to it for their sound, and legions of young guitar players have grown up dreaming of owning one of their own

Key Statistics

  • Gibson sells 170,000 guitars a year across 80 countries
  • The global electric guitar market is expected to grow from $2.61 billion in 2021 to $2.84 billion in 2022.
  • The electric guitar market is expected to grow to $3.60 billion in 2026 at a CAGR of 6.1%.

Gibson Guitar History

Orville Gibson
Orville Gibson- Founder of Gibson Guitar

Orville H. Gibson was born in 1856 on a farm near a small town in Chateau Gay, New York. Orville’s father was an English immigrant and his mother, Amy, was from New York and Peru. He arrived in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in the 1870s. Orville’s trip from northern New York to Michigan is unclear, but concerns about his health and well-being are possible.

Orville is a 3-minute walk from the hotel. He worked as a salesman at the shoe shop in Sprague, where he spent his spare time as a hobby, and in 1893 he worked as a salesman at Butters Restaurant at 216 East Main.

On May 11, 1896, Obil applied for the first and only patent. The document, U.S. Patent Number 598,245, was issued on February 1, 1898, for a mandolin configuration in which the top and back are carved, cut from a hard piece of wood without bending in a thin strip on the sides.

Orville's 37- string Harp Zither, Mandolin 18 inch guitar & F-style mandolin
Orville's 37- string Harp Zither, Mandolin 18 inch guitar & F-style mandolin

In the 1890s he not only increased the volume but also produced a sculpted top hollow body guitar with oval sound holes that set the standard for the future of the arch tower guitar. Orville’s instruments were louder and more durable than other modern fret instruments, and musicians soon demanded more than he could make in a single-person workshop.

Early Gibson Instruments
Early Gibson Instruments

The demand for his instruments increased and Orville Gibson’s ideas helped the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co., Ltd. was founded in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1902 after signing an agreement with five Kalamazoo entrepreneurs who funded the company.

On the afternoon of October 11, 1902, Sylvo Reams, Lewis A. Williams, LeRoy Hornbeck, John W. Adams, Samuel K. VanHorn, and Orville H. Gibson met at the county clerk’s office and said, “Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Co., Limited. Adams, VanHorn, and Hornbeck were lawyers working in Kalamazoo.

Strangely, Orville’s name was not listed as a member of the partnership. He attended a meeting to sell his patent and formally agree on the terms of the new organization. Another agreement followed in 1904 that documented the partnership paying Orville Gibson $2,500 for exclusive rights to his patents.

Orville maintained an eight-length relationship with the company until 1907, making most of his royalty income. As an inventor, he has worked on a variety of projects and has been listed in the town directory as a music teacher for a while. Initially, the company produced only Orville Gibson’s original designs.

1918 Gibson Style O Acoustic Archtop
1918 Gibson Style O Acoustic Archtop

There is no doubt that Orville’s contributions were the seeds of his creativity, enabling a great instrument for more than 100 years. Orville’s ideas were further developed by many loyal Gibson employees following Orville Gibson’s departure.

An interesting model available between 1902 and 1923 was Gibson Style O Acoustic Archtop. Some early Gibson instruments had this “scroll” shape that was incorporated into the design of the old-style mandolin. Gibson Style O Guitar played an important role in Gibson’s history.

This Gibson Guitar was considered the most authoritative guitar at the time and is known as the base model design derived from other future Gibson Arch Tower guitars. They are based on Orville Gibson’s original arch top design and were introduced in the late 1800s.

Les Paul Electric Guitar
Les Paul Electric Guitar

In some ways, it is reminiscent of the “F” style mandolin. Style O is another arch top design with a scroll shape at the top, cutaway with an oval sound hole with two inlaid wood rings, fixed bridge with a pyramid at the end, single bound top and sheet and peg head, dot plate inlay, large round solid peg head top, peg head with pearl peg head, peg head tuning, peg head Blacktop finish, dark mahogany back and sides.

1917 Gibson Mandolin
1917 Gibson Mandolin

In 1906, a slotted peg head with the “the Gibson” angled logo was added and a round, pointed sheet of paper was created that passed through the sound hole. In 1908, the body was slightly changed, and now with a trappy’s tailpiece, a sculpted artistic turn with a single pointed cutaway, it’s likely to be the stage for the legendary cutaway guitar of the future.

Cutaways are similar, for example, to those used later on ES-175, L-4C, and SG models. Gibson Style O had some more variations until it was discontinued in 1923. The Style O guitar was similar to the line that only turned Gibson’s early “F” style, which was a very popular instrument in the early twenties.

Eddie Lang with Gibson L-4
Eddie Lang with Gibson L-4

Gibson L-1 was one of the first acoustic guitars sold by Gibson. Introduced in 1902, it features two rope-patterned wood rings, a single bound top, an edge plate, a dot-plate inlay, and an orange top finish. In 1908, the L-1 specification was changed to a 13.5-inch width, a narrower waist, an aerial swing tailpiece with a pin fixed to the turtle celluloid plate, an extruded pickguard, a 13-piece separation from the body, a bound sheet, and a slate “the Gibson” logo.

The L-4 was first introduced in 1911 as an acoustic “rhythm” guitar with an “oval” sound hole. Jazz guitarist Eddie Lang played the Gibson L-4 and L-5 guitars, making a huge impact on Django Reinhardt and many other guitarists. Perhaps Django was fascinated by the Selmer Maccaferi guitar, designed by Italian guitarist and stringed musician Mario Maccaferi with an oval sound hole, because of this Gibson L-4 model.

Robert Johnson with a Gibson L-1
Robert Johnson with a Gibson L-1

The electrical version of the L-4 (known as L-4 CES) has a sculpted top and a Florence cutaway and has been limited in the 1950s.

The L-1 was reintroduced as a flat-top guitar in 1926. The L-1 flat-top model is most famous for its legendary blues man Robert Johnson, who played in his only known photograph.

Gibson Masterton Banjo

Orville Gibson has little to do with the development of the Gibson banjo line. With the new popularity of Banjo at the time, Gibson wanted their fair share in the new market.
In 1917, Gibson began a simple open-back banjo. Gibson’s first announcement about banjo appeared in October 1918.

Gibson Banjos
Gibson Banjos

It was simply a generic tenor model promoted as “tenor banjo.” Gibson Banjos’ golden age was from 1918 to 1938. Gibson Mastertone banjo has since been copied by individual string makers and commercial producers. Certain models offer the highest price from collectors, and for some professional bluegrass banjo players, Mastertone is the only banjo they will play. Although there have been many evolutionary design changes, the Gibson Banjo remained essentially the same from 1938 to 1985.

Gibson Guitar Business Strategy

The goal of Gibson garage is to ensure that people are fully immersed in the brand, whether they are new to the brand, old-time enthusiasts, or guests of others who come to see the guitar. “Mark Agnesi, Head of Brand Experience at Gibson Brands, said. “We’ve delivered it. Everyone who enters the garage feels the power of the brand and the meaning of the music community and connects our history to the present.

Gibson Store
Gibson Store

“In general, companies focus on the brand experience rather than retail,” said Paul Hemsworth, vice president, and general manager of GPJ.

  • “But there are more retail opportunities and understanding the customer experience is the essence of the brand.
  • “I’ve had a desire for experience in the last 16 months,” he said. If you use a tactile instrument, such as a guitar, you should feel these things. The movement of the instrument, the sound of a piece on the board.
  • The concept of a “garage” is a place where you can create and work on a guitar, but it also points to where many popular bands have started practicing in the garage.
  • Gibson garage features custom shops and bars made of ebony and rosewood, the materials used in Gibson’s most expensive guitar plates. Visitors can also see the mahogany used in the iconic Les Paul guitar.
Gibson Garage
Gibson Garage
  • Hemsworth said the idea was to design a “store without guitar”, avoiding the artifact of burying the store with hundreds of guitars. Instead, they wanted to build more “live” concert experiences that would allow visitors to interact with huge video walls and showcase Gibson’s history in an immersive way.
  • There is also a kiosk that highlights certain notable Gibson model guitars where you can hear fans play.
  • The site is also designed to appeal to fans and Influencers who create their own content, an important way to spread the word about Gibson and Gibson garage.
  • When you think about a guitar, it’s a beautiful collection of materials made of chords, wood, and some metal and made of art.
  • “Knowing that content is an important goal for Gibson and many brands, we created a great content capture space with retail space and a place for signed artists to relax and enjoy
    Through the garage, Gibson also builds a strong connection with Nashville, the music mecca.
  • In March 2020, when the garage was still under construction, the area underwent a series of deadly tornadoes, and Gibson took the helm and offered a new guitar to affected musicians.

Famous Musicians that use Gibson Guitars

With its heavy mahogany body with a maple cap and a mahogany neck, the Les Paul has a unique sound that growls deep and guttural, yet sings with clear highs and harmonics. There may be other guitars made with similar material, but, for many musicians, nothing less than a real Gibson Les Paul will do.

Slash - Guns N' Roses

Slash tells us about his Gibson Collection
Slash tells us about his Gibson Collection

In the late ‘80s, the Hollywood hard rock scene was spewing out bands left and right. These were the days of big hair, big guitars, and partying all night.


Guns N’ Roses certainly engaged in all of those things, but they also had a sound a bit different than many other bands of the period. Grittier, less polished, and more blues-based, in many ways GN’R seemed to be what rock n’ roll was all about.

A guitar player called Slash became a household name, with a top hat on his head and Les Paul in hand. While there is a great deal of debate about which guitars Slash used on GN’R’s debut, Appetite for Destruction, it is certain the Les Paul became forever linked to him thereafter.

Billy Gibbons

Billy Gibbons les paul
Billy Gibbons- American rock musician & Guitarist

When normal people think of ZZ Top they imagine long beards and fuzzy guitars. When guitar players think of ZZ Top they think of epic tone and smoking blues. Both come from the hands of Billy Gibbons, frontman and lead guitar player. Gibbons’ Les Paul story is one of the coolest out there.

As legend has it, Gibbons and the band had sold an old car through a friend who had moved to California. When Gibbons learned of a ’59 Les Paul for sale he bought it with the money from the car sale. The guitar’s owner had passed away, and the instrument had been sitting under a bed for years.

Bob Marley

Billy Gibbsons Releases Hardware
Bob Marley

You might not think Bob Marley deserves mention with these other amazing guitarists, and when it comes to pure skill you might be right, but there is no denying the impact his music has had on the world. He did much of his work with Les Paul in hand.

Marley played a few different guitars, mostly acoustics, but his main electric was a modified Gibson Les Paul Junior with P90 pickups. Marley changed the reggae world forever, but even those removed from the genre appreciate his brilliance.

Taylor Swift performs “betty” on her Gibson J-180 in Ebony at the Grand Ole Opry for the 2020 ACM Awards.

Award-winning Gibson Guitars

The Gibson Les Paul – the guitar, the myth, the legend. This genuinely iconic electric guitar has had a rather large hand in shaping rock ‘n’ roll ever since it was released way back in 1952. Many of the biggest axe-wielding stars from Slash and Gary Moore to Billy Gibbons and Jimmy Page have opted to make this single-cut beauty their number one guitar and, as a result, have firmly cemented Les Paul’s place in music history. With

With the Les Paul being so popular for so long, it would stand to reason that there’s a myriad of different options available. We know this can get a little confusing. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to the best Les Pauls you can buy right now, at various price points. We have also listed them in order of series, from the budget-friendly Epiphone to the high-end Murphy Labs custom shop model, to make it a little easier to navigate.

Les Paul 50s Standard

Les Paul 50s Standard
Les Paul 50s Standard

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that Epiphone has gone through a somewhat extensive revamp over the last couple of years, following in the footsteps of Gibson – literally. The new “inspired by Gibson” range takes the much-loved models from their American brethren and makes them more affordable.

This guitar may be the budget option, but it’s still a Les Paul through and through. This Epiphone Les Paul features a mahogany body and mahogany neck with a long neck tenon. However, it does sport a maple veneer rather than the solid maple top found on the Nashville counterpart. A significant change for the new model is the Kalamazoo headstock – something Epiphone fans have been crying out for. Gone is the modified Gibson design, in favor of the original headstock that harkens back to Epiphone’s past.

So if you’re looking for the best Les Paul, but you don’t want to remortgage the house, this is an ideal option for you!

Les Paul Custom

Les Paul Custom
Les Paul Custom

The Les Paul Custom has been a mainstay among rock royalty since it was introduced in 1954. It has been seen draped over the shoulder of Randy Rhoades, James Hetfield, Mick Mars, and of course, Les Paul himself.

The Epiphone Les Paul Custom does a great job at re-creating this stunning guitar at a much more wallet-friendly price. The ever-popular 60s slim taper neck is adorned with a genuine ebony fingerboard and large block inlays, resulting in a guitar that plays as good as it looks. It also comes loaded with the Epiphone ProBucker 2/3 humbuckers, with era-appropriate wiring and CTS pots.

Gibson Les Paul Special Tribute Humbucker

Gibson Les Paul Special Tribute Humbucker
Gibson Les Paul Special Tribute Humbucker

The Gibson Les Paul Special Tribute is a stripped-down rock ‘n’ roll machine at its heart. This guitar boils down the Les Paul to its most essential elements, making it the perfect option for the player who isn’t looking for all the bells and whistles.

This modern take on a vintage style Les Paul special comes loaded with the 490R and 490T open-coil humbuckers, which deliver a warm, punchy sound. This simple guitar strays even further from its vintage roots with the inclusion of a maple neck, which offers superb comfort and playability with its rounded edges, as well as added strength.

We must say, the Les Paul Special Tribute offers tremendous value for money, giving you the ability to purchase an American-made Gibson guitar for under $/£1,000. If you’re the type of player who likes a no-nonsense instrument built to melt faces, do yourself a favor and check this one out.


In conclusion, the history timeline of Gibson Guitar offers a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of a renowned brand and its enduring impact on the music industry. From its humble beginnings in the late 19th century to its status as a global icon today, Gibson has consistently demonstrated a commitment to innovation, craftsmanship, and artistic expression.

Throughout its history, the company’s business strategy has been characterized by a blend of tradition and innovation, combining timeless craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology to produce instruments of unparalleled quality and sound. As Gibson continues to adapt to changing market trends and consumer preferences, its strategic initiatives aim to uphold its legacy while embracing new opportunities for growth and expansion. With a rich heritage and a steadfast dedication to excellence, Gibson Guitar remains a beloved and influential force in music, inspiring generations of musicians and enthusiasts worldwide.


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