Did technology break or make Gibson?

2014 Gibson

I recently had the great fortune to take a closer look at a 2014 Gibson 120 year anniversary CE custom. This sorcery that Gibson did to create such an unparalleled universe in tradition/modern technology is of another worldly specimen.

My personal view reflect the struggles I find in Gibson’s workforce in the 2013-2016. To me at least there seem to be a lot of new workers at the Gibson Factory, My reasoning for this bolt statement is captured in the lack of detailing, care that was associated with Gibson for so many years. The other question might be, whether Gibson just made too many guitars per day, and whether the employees felt proud to be working for such a giant in the industry.

These statements are quite big and may be seen as negative, when in fact, we have to remember that we have gone through an enormous change in precision from 2005. Most factories started to streamline process. Gibson did the same. Gibson got one of their game changers (the Plek Machine) in  2006.This machine help any guitar building company to fine-tune the nut saddles and fretwork, by making the distance equal to a mathematical optimization, that induce a great playing guitar. Before this era the nut was cut by hand, the fret leveling and crowning and relief was all done by hand. This 120 anniversary has been made with the same tools and process before the plek, and before electronic boards. They mixed it up by using a new material for the fret board, called Richlight.

It seems to me, and this again is just my humble opinion, that maybe because of Gibson’s success, they were running out of old stock that was piled up for many years. Why use richlight instead of ebony. Could it be that the ebony at that time was not as stable as what they used to have?

Going through this anniversary Gibson, made me sad and happy all at once. The attention to detail is not there. But the feel and sound just blew me away.

Here are some problems

Nut work:

The nut Spacing is cut right on the edge, its borderline perfect, With E A and B 0,001mm too low. By adjusting the neck relieve, that buzz disappear just enough to not be noticed by a great player.


The frets are flat on top and the plastic cut outs of the binding is square instead of rounded with the crowning that might have been skipped. There are uneven frets, and lots of tool marks in the frets and on the fretboard.


It looks like the finish wasn’t sanded between buffing. There are dust problems on the neck, that needed to be flattened (Wet sand). On the bottom part of the back, there are some air bubbles on the finish that are associated with silicone contaminants.

Hardware Placement and fitting:

The parts that needed to be fitted like the jack plate are not lining up. The back plate is not in the right place. The gap is bigger on the one side. All of these things suggests speed of work and/or lack of care/ability?

In conclusion think this guitar is one of the best Gibson’s I have ever played, it sounds amazing. Nit picking about things that are only visual is perhaps more to do with us as a society that are obsessed with perfection, rather than a reflection on the greatest guitar design in the world.

What is Tone?

Music moves us with a sound that vibrates through our souls. The guitar string vibrates us in the same way. This is tone, the moving of our bones.

The conundrum of tone is elusive to most, yet some have it naturally and some can create it. Some get it through practice and some fall short. This quest for perfect tone can become very expensive. There are so many variables that have an influence on the creation of tone.

When we think of tone, we can say it’s the night and day of sound, the brightness and darkness or bass of the high frequencies and low ones. Somewhere in-between is the perfect tone. What most people don’t realize is that low and high frequencies have both in them. You get bass notes that sound bright, and or muddy.  The difficult part is that we are all different in our perception of great tone.

Tone is also created by the way we play, and how we move our hands, what kind of plectrum  we use and strings to just mention a few. String height can also help you in getting a better tone. Most guitarists want the strings very low over the fretboard. This keeps the string from fully vibrating and affects the tone.

Electronics like pick-ups, pots, caps, pedals and amps also have a big influence on the way the tone is created. Change one element and it all changes. I think a big part of how we experience tone have a lot to do with how we feel. If you are in the zone of a great Jam, then your tone seems better. Is tone based on memory, just like chocolate to our taste buds? Science says we only taste the first bite after that it’s all memory. Maybe we had a moment at a concert or radio, and heard a guitar with the perfect tone. Do we then go on memory and search for that sound our whole life?

Don’t miss the next one, see you soon.