So, that whole thing about Gibson quality control...

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teradaterada Frets: 508
Hi everyone,

Just a quick observation that I have made over the past few weeks. I'd thought it the case for a while now, but actually had the chance to test the logic.

Over the past few weeks I have tried around 25 Gibson acoustics (J45's/J15's/J200's etc etc) in various stores around the south of the UK. I also played many Martin and Taylor guitars during this time (why not!).

There was not a single dud, not a single blemish or issue at all with any of them.

Yes they all sounded slightly different, and some may have lent themselves to particular players more that others. But there wasn't a bad one at all, and the differences between guitars was no greater than what I found for both Martin and Taylor.

Good time to be a guitarist - so many lovely instruments out there. Only struggle was trying to pick between them.

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  • jeztone2jeztone2 Frets: 921
    edited July 10
    I bought a 2017 Les Paul Classic on a whim at the beginning of last year. I originally wanted an ES339. But didn't bond with any.

    Out of the four Les Paul’s I've owned, the 2017 is flawless in comparison to my old 2013 Trad Pro II which aside from a pretty top sounded terrible. My 2003 Classic (weighed a ton and the neck started to move) and my Brothers 2001 Standard (beautiful guitar but machine heads not aligned and orange peel on the finish).

    I did experience some rather scruffy ES339’s so the Jury is still out for me. But they have improved. Mind you my old SG was a lovely guitar to play but had stain all over the binding and filler in the inlays. It did sound great though. 
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  • Jez6345789Jez6345789 Frets: 880
    I don’t think people have ever said Gibson is a total basket case in the quality department. The acoustics are a separate division away from the mothership so perhaps the halo of epic failure does not hang so heavily on them.

    there Is more than enough evidence around for The main plants.

    one of Gibson’s problem is a in the old days a lot of the QC would of been caught by shops but in the days where guitars are sold online by big box shifters I imagine this is less the case that every box is checked. If I am wrong I will happily stand corrected 
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  • BoromedicBoromedic Frets: 748
    edited July 11
    I think a lot of Gibson's claimed QC issues are simply internet mythology. My 1999 Standard and my mates 1998 Custom were perfect when new and aside from playing wear still are. He bought his custom blind, and mine was bought after trying a few in different shops. The only reason for trying more was finish as I wanted HCSB but Williams music only had a few Honeybursts and solid colours. 

    There are dogs out there but the Gibson hate was just as strong in the pre internet days, the same myths flowed around the gearheads and shops back then too. I've tried guitars from a load of manufacturers and seen poor QC on odd ones from them all, a PRS S2 I played once had poor fretwork for example. I remember going to Intasound to try out an Orange Dual Terror, and the guy gave me an Indie Les Paul to play as they were the latest, better than Gibson for less money hype floating around. The ostentatious look aside it was nowhere near the quality of my LP, it was heavy as sin and the finish wasn't great either. Alright the price was less than a studio but still, they weren't in the same league. 

    As for the acoustics, I spent an afternoon in Nottingham trying loads. Taylors, Martin's, my lovely Freshman, and the best one I heard and played all day was a Gibson J45. Beautifully made and sounded amazing, the Freshman was the only one that came close. Unfortunately before I could make my mind up some guy bought it on the spot after playing it for 2 minutes. Never mind I love my Freshman and it was less than half the price!

    .....and what to my wondering eyes should appear.....      nothing.......


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  • WezVWezV Frets: 8385
    The “myth” has never been that every guitar is a piece of crap.  Bad QC does not mean every guitar will be firewood

    Bad QC suggests they vary more than is acceptable.  

    the acoustics are a seperate division 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31142
    They do let out some real howlers too. Perhaps not that many, but some that you have to think someone just didn’t care and signed it off anyway, because they couldn’t possibly not have noticed.

    I’m talking about things like a Historic 335 where the binding hadn’t been masked at all on the bass side of the neck so it was completely red, and a Custom Shop J-185 where the neck was so misaligned that the top E ran off the side of the neck at the 12th fret. And those are just the first two that come to mind...

    It’s true that these are probably rarities. It’s also true that other companies aren’t perfect, but it’s definitely not entirely a myth that Gibson has some QC issues.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • p90foolp90fool Frets: 7988
    terada said:
    Hi everyone,

    Just a quick observation that I have made over the past few weeks. I'd thought it the case for a while now, but actually had the chance to test the logic.

    Over the past few weeks I have tried around 25 Gibson acoustics (J45's/J15's/J200's etc etc) in various stores around the south of the UK. I also played many Martin and Taylor guitars during this time (why not!).

    There was not a single dud, not a single blemish or issue at all with any of them.

    Yes they all sounded slightly different, and some may have lent themselves to particular players more that others. But there wasn't a bad one at all, and the differences between guitars was no greater than what I found for both Martin and Taylor.

    Good time to be a guitarist - so many lovely instruments out there. Only struggle was trying to pick between them.

    I tried a couple of dozen Les Pauls all over the country in 2012 and found exactly the same. They varied a little, but not by much, and I eventually ordered one online, which has been my number one guitar ever since. 
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  • CabicularCabicular Frets: 2167
    ICBM said:
    They do let out some real howlers too. Perhaps not that many, but some that you have to think someone just didn’t care and signed it off anyway, because they couldn’t possibly not have noticed.

    I’m talking about things like a Historic 335 where the binding hadn’t been masked at all on the bass side of the neck so it was completely red, and a Custom Shop J-185 where the neck was so misaligned that the top E ran off the side of the neck at the 12th fret. And those are just the first two that come to mind...

    It’s true that these are probably rarities. It’s also true that other companies aren’t perfect, but it’s definitely not entirely a myth that Gibson has some QC issues.
    To be fair that’s a small % and by the nature of your trade won’t you see more duff ones than average?
    Ive got a fair few Gibson’s and only had one that was factory imperfect
    (it was an ES and nothing unfixabke, just a little rough)
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  • cbellangacbellanga Frets: 357
    edited July 11
    Isn’t it just a matter of percentages? More production, more potential to see some not so good in the mkt? By the way I got a CS ES175 directly from Chicago Music Exchange (so didn’t try before buying) and it is faultless apart from some buzzing already fixed and understandable due to the construction. With all taxes in it was still cheaper than an UK second hand.
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  • BigsbyBigsby Frets: 162
    As others have said, poor QC isn't about every product being poor, just a disproportionate number of faults & some serious faults getting into the marketplace. I've bought 5 new Gibson USA electrics between 2014 and 2017. Three have had minor flaws, which were merely disappointing considering the price point, but not 'serious'. But the two from 2016 illustrate the issue of QC. One was an SG Standard HP - I compared two in store and couldn't choose between them, not only were they the best playing SGs 'out of the box' I've come across, but I also couldn't find the slightest flaw in either. By contrast, an SG Supreme came with glue spillage running along the fretboard, the truss rod cover screwed on crooked, and a badly cut nut. And this was the joint most expensive SG in the USA range that year, you'd really expect a bit more care in both production and QC.

    In the same period I've bought 3 Fenders, 2 Reverends, and 5 guitars by a number of other manufacturers - but I haven't encountered the same poor QC across those guitars. Based on my very limited experience, I'd say Gibson's reputation for poor QC is justified.
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  • meltedbuzzboxmeltedbuzzbox Frets: 7110
    I've never played a bad Memphis Gibson. 

    I've played a fair few bad standards and custom shop though
    The Bigsby was the first successful design of what is now called a whammy bar or tremolo arm, although vibrato is the technically correct term for the musical effect it produces. In standard usage, tremolo is a rapid fluctuation of the volume of a note, while vibrato is a fluctuation in pitch. The origin of this nonstandard usage of the term by electric guitarists is attributed to Leo Fender, who also used the term “vibrato” to refer to what is really a tremolo effect.
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  • ElwoodElwood Frets: 360
    edited July 11
    Gibson have managed to put damaged guitars up on their website in recent years as stock photos. That's not the work of good QA and QC.

    I've tried a an LP in store and the neck alignment was off so the bridge was very high & have seen the gaps at the neck/neck pickup ring vary from nothing to big enough to loose your pick in. 


    Headstock crack




    Chipped body

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  • BoromedicBoromedic Frets: 748
    Oh god did people miss their morning coffee and/or tea?!!

    I never said that all Gibson guitars were numero uno did I? Nor claimed everything they produce is firewood. There are some well documented incidents after all. This is what I said:

    "I think a LOT of Gibsons claimed QC issues are simply internet mythology....." not ALL, or EVERY ONE, or any other absolute term.

    "There are dogs out there........" ah yes there are some ropey Gibsons out there (especially SG's for some reason, I've seen quite a few with issues on the net), I've seen the pictures and winced at what has made it into a customers hands, even past shop inspections. Maybe this is the problems of the Henry era coming home to roost? Poorly paid and motivated staff etc.

    I also said all manufacturers have issues, the scale of Gibsons manufacture probably means the amount is greater but the percentage may be similar in total, who knows maybe someone like ICBM is probably best placed as he sees more than most in his job. Yes as WezV says the variability of them is undoubtedly an issue, but the hate is also strong and it can paint a false picture, it also doesn't help as it masks the genuine issues. Like I said, I got shit about Gibsons back in the 90's and it was the same regurgitated stuff you hear now on the net, perhaps it's persisted since the 70's and the Norlin era who knows, or maybe before that. There are loads of Gibsons pass through the classifieds here, none of them seem to have issues?

    End of the day, if you're splashing £2k+ on a guitar from any manufacturer, best to be picky and maybe always ensure you see the actual guitar or have a good returns policy etc..

    .....and what to my wondering eyes should appear.....      nothing.......


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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31142
    Cabicular said:

    To be fair that’s a small % and by the nature of your trade won’t you see more duff ones than average?
    Yes, certainly true - but I'm not the only one who has come across plenty.

    There does seem to be some evidence that things have improved in the last couple of years or so though.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • teradaterada Frets: 508
    edited July 11
    Wow. I had hoped to add a bit of positivity 

    My point is that a lot of what people attribute to poor QC are guitars that don’t resonate with a particular player, or are too dark sounding, or too light sounding, or have variances in burst/woods that make them more or less desirable to different players. 

    From my (recent) experience, these were simply down to unit to unit variance on hand made items. None better or worse, but all slightly different. 

    I noticed no greater deviation between models than with other brands that people often describe as having very tight tolerances unit to unit. 

    Please note that this is from first hand experience of travelling across the country to actually play them, and I’d say a sample of 25 is pretty sizeable for a 100% success rate. 

    You hear all the time that to buy a Gibson you need to play a bunch first. I think this makes sense, but not because a high proportion are faulty and still on shop floors, but just because each instrument is unique. 

    It was was the same when buying my partners cello for example. 



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  • BoromedicBoromedic Frets: 748
    @terada I agree completely with you, and the same rules would apply to other high end, more hands on guitars such as Custom Shops and Suhrs as an example. You often hear of people trying said guitars and not bonding with a particular guitar they tried. 

    .....and what to my wondering eyes should appear.....      nothing.......


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  • TA22GTTA22GT Frets: 225
    I'm not so sure it's not bonding with a particular guitar when you try it but more about seeing obvious flaws which may or may not have any effect on whether you bond with the guitar.
     
    Some people do make mountains out of molehills with some very minor finish blips but also I have seen some horrors but with any brand too.
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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 681
    My experience is firstly hearing the reputation then buying a Gibson and finding the stories to be true. See my previous thread: http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/127737/what-is-this-score-mark

    That's definitely not personnel preference, that's a case where if that is still seen as acceptable at the qc check, I dread to think what would be rejected.

    It could be that Gibson just put out anything for their budget models and are pickier when the price goes up to thousands. But their "budget" model is 900 quid. A guitar at that price from a brand known for tight qc would never have that kind of flaw.

    I'm annoyed at myself for buying it because I did notice the problem at the second fret but at the time I was determined that "only a Gibson would do" and it was the only one I could afford so took it. By the time I noticed the score mark I had already changed the pickups so couldn't return it (I had been bought the new pickups as a present before the guitar so was always going to change them immediately.

    Even with myself to blame, it's completely unacceptable to let that pass qc on a 900 quid guitar, regardless of the price of that company's other models.

    I'm taking it in to get it looked at this week but I'm expecting that it would cost more to fix than it would be worth. Can only take it as a learning experience and at least I won't have that "if only I got a real Gibson" nagging in my head.
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  • teradaterada Frets: 508
    thegummy said:
    My experience is firstly hearing the reputation then buying a Gibson and finding the stories to be true. See my previous thread: http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/127737/what-is-this-score-mark

    That's definitely not personnel preference, that's a case where if that is still seen as acceptable at the qc check, I dread to think what would be rejected.

    It could be that Gibson just put out anything for their budget models and are pickier when the price goes up to thousands. But their "budget" model is 900 quid. A guitar at that price from a brand known for tight qc would never have that kind of flaw.

    I'm annoyed at myself for buying it because I did notice the problem at the second fret but at the time I was determined that "only a Gibson would do" and it was the only one I could afford so took it. By the time I noticed the score mark I had already changed the pickups so couldn't return it (I had been bought the new pickups as a present before the guitar so was always going to change them immediately.

    Even with myself to blame, it's completely unacceptable to let that pass qc on a 900 quid guitar, regardless of the price of that company's other models.

    I'm taking it in to get it looked at this week but I'm expecting that it would cost more to fix than it would be worth. Can only take it as a learning experience and at least I won't have that "if only I got a real Gibson" nagging in my head.
    Completely agree that that is not acceptable. There was nothing like that I noticed on any of the ones I tried.

    Did you try a number of others that were the same?



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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 3498
    edited July 11
    I've had 5 Gibsons, and I've had issues with 3 of them.

    The worst was a 339 that I bought when it was about a month old.  (The guy who bought it originally was forced to sell it by his wife).  There were a couple of minor finish issues but I could have lived with those.  There were two more major issues.  The first was the fingerboard.  It was the usual fare from Gibson at the time in that it was very dry.  I put some lemon oil on it, and the way the light reflected off of that, you could see it hadn't been sanded off properly.  There were tooling marks all over it.  The other issue I discovered after a few months when it started cutting out when i used one of the volume controls.  It turned out that it hadn't been soldered.  The wire had just been wrapped around the tag and left like that.  That was fixable, and the fingerboard smoothed out over time.  Underneath that it was a good guitar.

    The 2010 R8 I had didn't have great geometry regarding neck angle/bridge height.  The bridge sat too high on the posts and started leaning over.  That was actually fixable by taking tha action down very low - and the guitar was good enough to let me do that, but it was actually lower than I like the action to be.  Again, it was a great sounding guitar.  Charlie Chandler sold it at my asking price within two weeks when I decided to sell it, but for all that it was flawed.

    The nut on my ES Les Paul was cut abominably.  The B string kept grabbing all the time, and I had all kinds of problems with the tuning on it.  It was an easy fix for a good tech, and now that's been done, and the guitar set up well, I love that guitar, but again an issue that shouldn't have been there.

    The other two Gibsons I've owned both came second hand, and didn't have any significant issues (unless you count stain over the neck binding).  How they came from the factory I don't know.

    Despite the issues I've had, I'm not a statistically significant sample size, but I've heard enough stories from elsewhere to know that Gibson have definitely had issues in the past.  Whether they still have issues, or have sorted themselves out, I don't know.  The most recent of mine is the ES Les Paul (2015).  It's possible that they have improved things over the last 3 years - but I still wouldn't buy one without trying and giving it a very good look over.
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  • teradaterada Frets: 508
    crunchman said:
    I've had 5 Gibsons, and I've had issues with 3 of them.

    The worst was a 339 that I bought when it was about a month old.  (The guy who bought it originally was forced to sell it by his wife).  There were a couple of minor finish issues but I could have lived with those.  There were two more major issues.  The first was the fingerboard.  It was the usual fare from Gibson at the time in that it was very dry.  I put some lemon oil on it, and the way the light reflected off of that, you could see it hadn't been sanded off properly.  There were tooling marks all over it.  The other issue I discovered after a few months when it started cutting out when i used one of the volume controls.  It turned out that it hadn't been soldered.  The wire had just been wrapped around the tag and left like that.  That was fixable, and the fingerboard smoothed out over time.  Underneath that it was a good guitar.

    The 2010 R8 I had didn't have great geometry regarding neck angle/bridge height.  The bridge sat too high on the posts and started leaning over.  That was actually fixable by taking tha action down very low - and the guitar was good enough to let me do that, but it was actually lower than I like the action to be.  Again, it was a great sounding guitar.  Charlie Chandler sold it at my asking price within two weeks when I decided to sell it, but for all that it was flawed.

    The nut on my ES Les Paul was cut abominably.  The B string kept grabbing all the time, and I had all kinds of problems with the tuning on it.  It was an easy fix for a good tech, and now that's been done, and the guitar set up well, I love that guitar, but again an issue that shouldn't have been there.

    The other two Gibsons I've owned both came second hand, and didn't have any significant issues (unless you count stain over the neck binding).  How they came from the factory I don't know.

    Despite the issues I've had, I'm not a statistically significant sample size, but I've heard enough stories from elsewhere to know that Gibson have definitely had issues in the past.  Whether they still have issues, or have sorted themselves out, I don't know.  The most recent of mine is the ES Les Paul (2015).  It's possible that they have improved things over the last 3 years - but I still wouldn't buy one without trying and giving it a very good look over.
    Blimey that doesn't sound great at all. A 60% issue rate is pretty significant even if the sample is small.

    I currently have 7 Gibson and 6 Fender guitars, of those the most I've needed to have done to my Gibsons is a good set up from feline. My fenders have been mostly great, with the exception of a Mexican strat where the neck cracked the whole length of the skunk stripe, and an old acoustic that has moved a lot over time (but hey acoustics do that so not such a big deal). I have also had a fender amp blow up.

    I suppose I could from my experience claim that fender have let me down QC wise, but I don't think it fair to extrapolate those issues to the whole brand.

    Maybe I'm just super lucky when it comes to Gibsons. If only I could be so lucky finding guitars that don't aggravate my ulnar nerve so much! :s
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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 681
    terada said:
    thegummy said:
    My experience is firstly hearing the reputation then buying a Gibson and finding the stories to be true. See my previous thread: http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/127737/what-is-this-score-mark

    That's definitely not personnel preference, that's a case where if that is still seen as acceptable at the qc check, I dread to think what would be rejected.

    It could be that Gibson just put out anything for their budget models and are pickier when the price goes up to thousands. But their "budget" model is 900 quid. A guitar at that price from a brand known for tight qc would never have that kind of flaw.

    I'm annoyed at myself for buying it because I did notice the problem at the second fret but at the time I was determined that "only a Gibson would do" and it was the only one I could afford so took it. By the time I noticed the score mark I had already changed the pickups so couldn't return it (I had been bought the new pickups as a present before the guitar so was always going to change them immediately.

    Even with myself to blame, it's completely unacceptable to let that pass qc on a 900 quid guitar, regardless of the price of that company's other models.

    I'm taking it in to get it looked at this week but I'm expecting that it would cost more to fix than it would be worth. Can only take it as a learning experience and at least I won't have that "if only I got a real Gibson" nagging in my head.
    Completely agree that that is not acceptable. There was nothing like that I noticed on any of the ones I tried.

    Did you try a number of others that were the same?



    They only had one Tribute, there seemed to have been a lack of supply of those.

    I should have been patient and left it when I noticed the problem at the second fret but I'd convinced myself I wanted a Gibson so it was a bit impulsive that I took it rather than leaving it.

    I really should have waited for a bit before modding it too then I could have returned it but again I was in a bit of an impulse.

    At the moment I've changed the pickups to P90s and the tuners to Schallers. If nothing can be realistic done about the flaws I'll just kind of see it as a guitar that I'm not afraid to ding which could be "freeing" in a weird way. Just trying to make the best of as bad situation.

    Initially I was planning to sell it but I'm very busy and rarely at home so the thought of going through the hassle of selling it just didn't seem worth it.
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  • jeztone2jeztone2 Frets: 921
    terada said:
    Wow. I had hoped to add a bit of positivity 

    My point is that a lot of what people attribute to poor QC are guitars that don’t resonate with a particular player, or are too dark sounding, or too light sounding, or have variances in burst/woods that make them more or less desirable to different players. 

    From my (recent) experience, these were simply down to unit to unit variance on hand made items. None better or worse, but all slightly different. 

    I noticed no greater deviation between models than with other brands that people often describe as having very tight tolerances unit to unit. 

    Please note that this is from first hand experience of travelling across the country to actually play them, and I’d say a sample of 25 is pretty sizeable for a 100% success rate. 

    You hear all the time that to buy a Gibson you need to play a bunch first. I think this makes sense, but not because a high proportion are faulty and still on shop floors, but just because each instrument is unique. 

    It was was the same when buying my partners cello for example. 



    So how come Ibanez and Yamaha can knock it out of the park with a cheaper instrument? 

    My nephews ESP LTD is an amazing instrument. All Gibson need to do is put a bit more CNC in and a better QA program. That’s how everyone else does it. 
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  • springheadspringhead Frets: 83

     I've only bought one Gibson new, a 2016 LP Standard.  I played half a dozen, pretty similar tone and feel, and didn't spot any QC issues with them.  I left it with the shop for a week for them to set it up to my preference and choice of strings and they did 2 years warranty instead of one.  Couldn't be happier - maybe I was lucky?  

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  • Not sure if this falls under a QC issue for gibson but i’ve had a couple of melodymakers both with slightly misshaped headstocks on one side just above the nut.
    Even my p90 junior special has a similar thing.
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  • HaychHaych Frets: 438

    I've come across quite a few new Gibsons that have had QC issues.  To make it worse, none of them were really difficult to fix; over spray, poor finish quality (just needed a bit more buffing), sharp fret ends, bad final setups. 

    I think the worst one was a LP standard I used to own, the inlays were cut by Heath Robinson himself, with a spoon!

    That said, of all the Gibsons ever manufactured I've played and seen a tiny fraction of a drop in the ocean so it's hardly indicative of all of their output.

    And as far as internet hate for Gibson QC goes, take it with a pinch of salt; people rarely offload to the internet about how amazing their new guitar/car/dishwasher/etc is. 

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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31142
    Haych said:

    I've come across quite a few new Gibsons that have had QC issues.  To make it worse, none of them were really difficult to fix; over spray, poor finish quality (just needed a bit more buffing), sharp fret ends, bad final setups. 

    Or so serious the guitar should have gone back for a complete re-build, like the J-185 with the neck misalignment. Not just passed as 'OK' and put in the case.

    The more serious faults like this that I've seen couldn't possibly have been *not* noticed by more than one employee either. To continue using this example (and I'm not exaggerating by the way - the top E string was literally off the side of the fingerboard by the time it got above the body joint), the person who put the strings on and the person who play-tested it and signed it off at the very least *must* have noticed something wasn't right. We are not talking about a bottom-of-the-range model either, this guitar cost well over three grand.

    That said, when I looked at an SG Les Paul that wouldn't stay in tune properly because the sideways vibrola was fitted off-centre, I found a pic online of an original 60s one with exactly the same fault! It's nothing new.

    And for balance, my favourite acoustic guitar I've ever played is the 2008 Gibson Dove I own. It isn't flawless - the top edge of the headstock was never polished after finishing - but other than that it is, and it simply sounds and plays beautifully.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 681
    I genuinely wonder if slack quality control is part of their business policy and if that's related to the fact that the brand name itself is so powerful that it can sell well despite all the problems.
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  • fastonebazfastonebaz Frets: 151
    I bought a brand new SG 2018 standard online and it arrived in perfect condition.  No flaws, very resonant acoustically, plays like a dream,  I'm very pleased with it.   Build quality looks perfect to me.   Want a les paul standard to match it now. 
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  • chrisj1602chrisj1602 Frets: 924
    I've owned 7 Gibsons, never had any issues (except the doubling of prices)
    Chris.
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  • Winny_PoohWinny_Pooh Frets: 2639
    It's been said that Gibson is not a great company to work for so I'd wonder how many QC issues are due to rushed production or simply employees who mildly resent being there.
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