I always favored Gibson. From the first moment I saw a picture of Terry Kath playing a Gibson SG electric guitar inside the Chicago Transit Authority double album my preference was made.
In my early rock band days I played an SG copy, which was cheaper than the genuine article. I bought my first Gibson SG Custom used at Lewis Music Store in Kissimmee, Fla., trading in the Japanese copy. My mother loaned me the cash to make the deal.
Since then I’ve owned and played other electric and acoustic Gibsons, as well as Fenders. I’ve also visited the Gibson outlet in Nashville a few times where you could see mandolins and other acoustic instrument in various stages of assembly.
But now it looks like Fender may just outlast its rival.
Reports of bankruptcy for the 116-year-old American institution have been circulating. The company reportedly has about $500 million in debt payments coming due this summer and there are questions whether it can meet its financial obligations.
It would be hard for me to imagine life without Gibson. Among my favorite record albums decorating the walls of my studio are Jeff Beck’s “Blow by Blow” and Peter Frampton’s self-titled release. Both covers show the artists playing beautiful back Gibson Les Paul guitars.
Some of the greatest music of the last century was made with Gibson equipment and a lot more will be played and recorded in the future because those guitars won’t just disappear if the company does go under. Those soon to be vintage instruments will become more rare and thus more expensive for aspiring musicians.
But if new Gibson SGs, Les Pauls, Firebirds, basses and other instruments ceased to be produced that will be a very dark day indeed. It won’t be the day the music died, as chronicled by Don McLean in “American Pie,” but it will be like waking up the morning after with a terrible hangover.