Gibson is finally getting cool again
What I experienced with Gibson recently is a really good sign the company is definitely on the right track.
I attended the Dallas International Guitar Festival for '19, and Gibson was there. I thought they made a really good showing.
Now before continuing, yes I've been bashing Gibson for years. But now they're finally under new management. And it shows in the best possible way.
What I was expecting from Gibson at DIGF was a roped-off highfalutin thing where you needed special privilege just to talk to them. Nope. They were right there, truck out (literally, as seen above) with a bunch of guitars all on display you could see, touch and get to know.
All the latest and greatest Gibson models were there. Lots of eye candy, including the Gibson Les Paul Standard Psychedelic Art made just as a show guitar:
But I think what was more impressive is actually talking to the guy who did the custom artwork on it:
That's me talking to the guy (I unfortunately didn't get his name) who actually did the artwork on that crazy Les Paul. He was glad to talk to me and was genuinely happy to be there at the show.
I really, really liked that. Gone was the cold, corporate Gibson attitude of the past. This was long overdue. This artisan's genuine joy of being there is what made Gibson cool for me again.
It's one thing to be around thousands of dollars worth of guitars. Over the course of my guitar playing life so far, I've seen the best of the best. But the best experiences by far are when you meet the builders, crafters, luthiers, artists and anyone else that goes into the build of an instrument.
I jokingly noted to the artisan that the tailpiece screws were the only thing on the guitar not psychedelic colored on the custom Les Paul. He replied right back and said a guy in the Gibson shop told him the same thing. Then I replied back and said while those screws weren't colored, he made up for it by actually coloring the switch tip:
We had a good chuckle over that one.
Yes, this does mean the entire guitar was hand painted stem to stern. It was done the slow way, and done right. When you step back and see this guitar from a distance, it totally has that looks-like-it's-in-motion psychedelic look.
Of course, there were a bunch of other Les Pauls there:
Nice to see. But it's like I said above, actually talking to someone who works for Gibson and having him tell the story of a guitar, even if it was just for one crazy show look-at-me type of instrument, was worth more than everything on display there.
Connecting with Gibson on a personal level like that was nothing short of amazing.
I'm a nobody that just wanted a closer look at a crazy guitar. And a Gibson builder actually took his time to talk to me. He was genuinely friendly, all smiles and loved his job.
Attitudes like that start with good leadership, and that's what lets me know Gibson is absolutely on the right track again. They're getting back to building good guitars by people who care. And that's just cool.