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Thread: Gibson Post Mortem

  1. #1
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    Default Gibson Post Mortem

    (Checking on online after many years absence although I still play.)

    I recall years ago some scuttlebutt about Gibson -- being pricier than other brands of equivalent quality and some policy regarding in-person vs. internet sales that alienated many of their retailers (most of which are now "click-and-mortar" which is almost standard in today's economy).

    From what I can tell, Gibson isn't making mandolins anymore (except maybe a couple low-end imports under the Epiphone badge).

    Can anyone who knows what's up comment on whether Gibson has given up the mandolin world or just taking a break during their restructuring? And maybe provide a summary of what has gone on?
    "Dust off those rusty strings just one more time. Gonna make em shine!" -Robert Hunter

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    Registered User Pete Braccio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    They're not dead yet.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    They are still making mandolins. Dave Harvey is in charge of production.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    What we know:

    The Mandolin Store has 3 new Gibson mandolins in stock, and one that is used.
    Morgan Music is listing a new F-5G in stock.
    Guitar Center/Musicians' Friend is listing several models on their website, but the only models that are in stock are the F-9 and F-5GEM electric mandolin.
    Sam Ash is listing the F-9 and the F-5G as in stock, limited quantity available.
    Sweetwater is not listing any Gibson mandolins.

    Gibson is not listing mandolins on their website.

    By the way, Guitar Center is listing a 1913 blonde F-4 that appears to be in original condition for 5K. No connection, NFI.

  5. #5
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    Modifying OP post to "Gibson isn't making many mandolins any more." Fair summary of the situation.

    I hear the new ones are first-rate -- when and if you can find one.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    The good news is that Gibson has bigger fish to overcook, so seems to have left the Mandolin guys alone and they are building pretty good mandolins from what I can tell from the two Harvey era mandolins I've played. The premium paid for the name is no more than a company like Collings is getting. The deal in small shop builds is Northfield, but as their reputation continues to build, I expect them to close the gap. This is somewhat evident as they produce more high end mandolins. But Gibsons are few and far between in these parts.
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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    Gibson is very much still building and selling mandolins. I have toured factory recently and I was most impressed by the process still being done as it was under the supervision of Charlie Derrington (of which I toured the factory numerous times in the 80's and 90's). IMO Dave Harvey carries on that tradition and has a keen eye and ear for quality. He's also a pretty good picker which helps in knowing what is right and wrong with production. I have played many of the newer ones coming off recently and can say they are still a good value for the money. When comparing the higher end models to comparable other leading F5 makers, Gibson still floats to the top for me. I would rather they underproduce a quality mandolin than overproduce a crappy one, aka 1970's.

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  10. #8
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    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    Thanks for the responses. I haven't seen any in shops lately so I thought that they had completely stopped.

    Where is the mando factory?
    "Dust off those rusty strings just one more time. Gonna make em shine!" -Robert Hunter

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    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    Nashville, Tennessee.
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    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."

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    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    If I did not come here, and were to go into every quality stringed instrument shop in the SF Bay Area, I would also wonder if Gibson were still producing mandolins. So the question is not so far fetched. TMS is soon to move, but it is the only Gibson dealer I know of, a good 400 miles away.
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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
    Good grief...
    Yeah, really? This comes up a lot more than I ever had expected it would. Just because there is not a huge roll out every year of “new and improved” products a Death knell idea comes up, weird!
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  18. #13

    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    If you look at some of Gibson's production records for the past 100 years or so, it is fairly common to see that it has always been a supply and demand type of thing -- the demand determining what was being produced. Certain high-end jazz guitars for example were in the catalog throughout the 60's even though some years they didn't even sell a single one of a certain model -- but it was available if somebody wanted one. Another example is the "futuristic" series electrics of the late 1950's -- the Flying V and the Explorer -- those sold so poorly even with limited production that still new, made in the 50's examples were available at Gibson dealers as late as 1965. I would say even more so with mandolin production which is more or less an in-house custom shop and at those prices you can't expect every dealer in the country to carry a wall full of them, IMHO.

  19. #14

    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    I remember when Gryphon was a Gibson dealer. They moved quite a few high end Gibson instruments, arch top guitars, mandolins, banjos, and they would carry a Les Paul or two, perhaps a 335. Then one day Gibson told them they were going to carry Epiphone and buy x dollars worth of cheaper stuff for the privilege. Gryphon told them no thank you, our clientele is not Guitar Center’s.

    At the time Collings was coming on strong, SCGC and Huss &Daulton we’re getting started. They have been doing quite well without Gibson for a great many years. Sorry I can’t go compare Gibson mandolins there. They really did sell some Gibson Archtops though.
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    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post


    By the way, Guitar Center is listing a 1913 blonde F-4 that appears to be in original condition for 5K. No connection, NFI.
    Looks like someone grabbed it up.

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    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
    Scott, you’re killin’ me!
    Timothy F. Lewis
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  24. #18
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    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    I don't see any reason for any attitudes.

    Gibson does not list mandolins in their on-line catalog, and hasn't listed them for at least a couple of years.

    Only one or two brick and mortar stores have any in stock. And most of the listings that come up are "out of stock," or "on order" with a future delivery date.

    If you go to Google and type "new Gibson mandolins," the first "people also ask" question that comes up is "Does Gibson still make mandolins?," and the answer that comes up states [wrongly, because the info is from a 2008 article] that the instruments are being made in Bozeman.

    It was a legitimate question worthy of a civil answer. The answer is not so obvious if you don't already know where to look for it.

    Especially considering the absence of current information from the Gibson company itself, and the number of "out-of-stock" or "limited availability" listings that appear on the websites of Guitar Center, Sam Ash, and yes, TMS.
    Last edited by rcc56; Feb-21-2020 at 12:46am.

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  26. #19
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    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    Quote Originally Posted by kvk View Post

    Can anyone who knows what's up comment on whether Gibson has given up the mandolin world or just taking a break during their restructuring? And maybe provide a summary of what has gone on?
    No, they haven't completely given up mandolin production. They are still producing mandolins in very small quantities.

    So far, their restructuring has consisted of closing the Memphis plant and moving those operations to Nashville. The Bozeman plant is still in operation. There have been some personnel changes in Nashville, and a couple of operations have been moved from one building to another. They are building a new corporate headquarters in the downtown area. They have introduced a few new budget-priced guitar models.

    Other than that, I don't think anyone knows what is going on at Gibson. I do know a Gibson employee, and they don't provide him with much information about the company's plans. He goes in, does his job, and collects his pay check. The checks have always cleared.

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  28. #20

    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    I had the same question when I first started getting interested in mandolins. I didn't know about the Mandolin Cafe then. As I recall, it was a little confusing trying to figure out whether Gibson was in fact still producing new mandolins.

    I actually did find a Gibson website that mentions mandolins:

    http://legacy.gibson.com/Products/Ac...yle&ModelYear=

    But you apparently can't access this page from the main Gibson website. It seems crazy that mandolins don't feature prominently alongside guitars on the company's main site. It's a totally cool part of the company's history. Even if they produce relatively few new mandolins, what's the downside of showcasing them?

  29. #21
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    Not all of us -- even long-time Cafe members who, as they say, have "many years of absence" from this forum -- are as au courant with the current mandolin market, and G's role in it, as those who go on the Cafe daily.

    They can be understandably puzzled as to why the company's profile, which looms so large in American mandolin history, is so limited in the current market. I go into my local dealers, and see ranks of Gibson mandolins on the wall -- every one of them used (or, as they say, "vintage").

    Which is both an indication that there's still a substantial market for Gibson mandolins -- and an indication that that market can be filled, in large part, by the thousands of still-playable Gibson mandolins the company made in the last century-plus.

    I would venture to state that Gibson hasn't been noted for its brilliant production decisions or marketing strategies over the past few decades. Hence the firm's somewhat precarious financial position in recent years. It may or may not make sense, from their point of view, to emphasize guitar production, acoustic and electric, almost exclusively, and to de-emphasize other instruments such as banjo and mandolin (does Gibson even make banjos any more, or put their name on instruments made for them by others? And what about resonator [Dobro] guitars?).

    So there's reason to question Gibson's present -- and future -- in the admittedly "niche" mandolin market. But still, thousands of mandolins are sold in the US every year, and very few now are new Gibsons. That's how things seem to stand, and discussion of the situation is not just an over-worked "popcorn" topic.
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    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    It was a legitimate question worthy of a civil answer. The answer is not so obvious if you don't already know where to look for it.
    Worthy question, but an exceptionally poor title, that regardless of intent, inflicts potential harm into a company. That's not what the Mandolin Cafe is about. I'm not a particular fan of the company's management, and I'm not beyond calling them out when they do something wrong, which they've openly acknowledged, but the people working there have always been decent and deserved our respect. The mandolin division has always been present here on this forum, David Harvey included.

    Pronouncing a company dead, ie., "post morten," in the water when you don't know the answer is simply inappropriate. Better wording and acceptable would have been "is Gibson still manufacturing mandolins?" I stand by my criticism of the opening title, not the question.

    Being "current" would only take a cursory look at the Classifieds and home page where new Gibsons show up frequently. A new one was posted yesterday and immediately sold, ad removed. Two were actually posted yesterday. How current someone needs to be may be an opinion. How difficult it is to find the truth in an appropriate fashion is not.

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  33. #23
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    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post

    Does Gibson even make banjos any more, or put their name on instruments made for them by others? And what about resonator [Dobro] guitars?).
    .
    Gibson banjos were discontinued in 2009 or 2010. American made Dobros have also been out of production for a long time.

    Imported Dobros are still available. Epiphone still offered a banjo last year. Neither appear to be catalogued on the Epiphone website. The only Epi mandolin model I can find in the catalog is the MM30S A model.

  34. #24

    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    I'm just happy that all the bad managers at Gibson have paid so little attention to mandolins that they are still around building good ones. They sure have screwed up every other facet of their business. I say let them be ignored to do their thing.
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  35. #25

    Default Re: Gibson Post Mortem

    allenhopkins asks:
    "does Gibson even make banjos any more, or put their name on instruments made for them by others?"

    No banjos since 2009. Production was essentially ended and banjo-area employees were let go BEFORE "the flood" came a-washin' through...

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