Orville Gibson began hand-making acoustic guitars and mandolins in 1902. In the 1950s, the Gibson Company manufactured its first electric ax, the Gibson Les Paul, named after the jazz and blues guitarist who helped design it, Les Paul. The Gibson company offers electric guitars, acoustic instruments, as well as music accessories.

How are Gibson guitars made?

Gibson guitars are manufactured at the company’s factory in Nashville, Tennessee. In the company’s earliest days, guitar bodies were made by hand. Subsequently, however, the maple and mahogany blocks used to make bodies began being shaped by computer-operated machines. The crafting of guitar necks, fret boards, and other guitar parts is still done by hand. The company produces approximately 2,500 Les Pauls, SGs, Firebirds, and other guitar models every week.

What are the different Gibson Les Paul types?

Gibson manufactures many different prototypes of their Les Paul axes, but they all fall into one of eight basic classes:

  • Junior/ Melody Maker: These are entry level electric models. They generally have a single pickup.
  • Standard/Studio: These electric guitars are manufactured to the same specs, but the Studio guitar lacks some of the Les Paul Standard guitar’s cosmetic features.
  • Classic/Traditional: The Les Paul Classic’s pickups have a higher acoustic output than the Traditional, and its speed knobs are easier to manipulate. Whereas the Traditional reproduces the vintage look of guitars manufactured in the 1950s and 1960s, the Classic may be a better approximation of their sound.
  • Custom: The Custom is a Gibson Les Paul model. It is crafted with a mahogany body, a mahogany neck, and a rosewood fret board.
  • Artist: Artist models are specially commissioned Gibson Les Paul guitars with specs chosen by the individual guitarist for whom the piece is being crafted.
Who are some famous musicians who’ve played Gibsons?

These guitars have been the instrument of choice for many well-known jazz, blues, folk, and rock ‘n’ roll artists:

  • Wood Guthrie: Woody Guthrie started his career with a Southern Jumbo model, which the company subsequently reproduced complete with Woody’s “This machine kills fascists” sticker.
  • Duane Allman: Duane Allman (the Allman Brothers) used two. His main ax was a Les Paul Goldtop with humbucker pickups, while his second was a Gibson SG.
  • John Lennon: John Lennon also used a Les Paul guitar, and the company has replicated Lennon’s J-160E in a limited edition.
  • Bob Dylan: Bob Dylan owns a custom-built SJ-200.
  • Carlos Santana: Photographs of Carlos Santana at the original Woodstock Festival show him strumming an SG Special. The company's advertising campaigns in the 1970s was formulated around Carlos Santana and his guitar.
Content provided for informational purposes only. eBay is not affiliated with or endorsed by Gibson.

More to explore