From metal to indie rock to reggae superstars, nearly every notable musical legend has strapped on a Les Paul at some point to take advantage of its signature sound; Slash, Jimmy Page, Ace Frehley, Duane Allman, Eric Clapton, Joe Perry, Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, Billie Joe Armstrong, Jeff Beck, Gary Moore, the list goes on.
It’s hard to believe that such an iconic guitar company almost went out of business in the 1980s.
Gibson Guitar Corp. (now known as Gibson Brands, Inc.) was founded in 1902 by Orville Gibson in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The company originally made mandolin-family instruments. By the 1930s, Gibson was producing flattop acoustic guitars and hollow-body electric guitars.
In the early 1960s, the body design of the Les Paul was changed due to the demand for a double-cutaway body design. The new body design then became known as the SG (for “solid guitar”), due to disapproval from Les Paul himself. The Les Paul returned to the Gibson catalog in 1968.
Gibson was within three months of going out of business before it was bought by current owners in 1986. The era of pop music electronic keyboards, synthesizers and programmed sequencers nearly sunk Gibson. The company survived by putting the spotlight back on the iconic Les Paul guitar.
Since then, Gibson has never looked back. The company offers consumer electronics and professional audio equipment.
But it’s the guitars that have pickers drooling.
Read more here about Gibson’s drive to do for music what Nike has done in the world of sports.