Build Your Own Les Paul

OldBenKenobi

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Harrumph. <taps walking stick on senate floor>

Remember when Custom Shop meant stuff like getting your name in MOP inlaid on the fret board?

Real custom work. But that takes skilled craftsmen. And therein lies the rub. You've got to pay those people what they're worth.

Low wage personnel can't do that. That's why there's CNC machines. Button pushers.

The one-day poly finish is perhaps my biggest issue. There's so much work that goes into a proper finish, including level-sanding, wet sanding, etc. But that takes labor, time and effort. The enemy of profit.

When I build, my customers want a no-compromises, hand-crafted instrument built to their desires. The big outfit custom shops should offer that.

Gibson once offered as standard-issue, off the rack a great instrument.

Funny now how "off the rack" is so removed from that, and approaching that level is now considered "custom" work.
One thing Fender is doing right is the Masterbuilt program. A $2400 premium to have your guitar be designed, built and setup by one man.
 

Tone deaf

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MTM Gibsons could be a game changer, but its success among the forums (where a LOT of pre-buying research is done) will probably depend on being ordered by people familiar with the standard neck shapes. “I knew the neck would be thick, but I didn’t expect it to be THAT thick! Now I’m stuck with a guitar I can barely play!”
I hope they keep the asym neck shape around. It’s insanely good for me.
But I don’t plan on buying anymore guitars anyway, so they can do whatever they want, really.
If I were in charge, I’d chamber everything but not tell anyone. Haha.
How about MTM and you can send in your favorite pups? You've got a pair of Bill Lawrence pups or PAFs lying around. You send them to Gibby and they build the guitar around them...
 

OldBenKenobi

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Jesus, out of curiosity I googled the Made 2 Measure brochure. Are they for real with this garbage?
 

Tone deaf

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This is currently more of a novelty. However, in the future, it will need to be much more competitive and across all price lines, not just custom shop.

I suspect that eventually, we will be able to go online and select everything from top to pups to neck to tuners and so forth. However, it will be on everything from a Studio on up.

They are going to produce x number of guitars anyhow. Why not make y number of them to customer specs and guarantee they sell (an slip in an extra 10% premium)?
 

OldBenKenobi

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Pups and tuners and whatnot I couldn't give a fuck about.

What's stupid is it's limited to stock options. I don't know if there's a possible combination of features in that brochure that can't be had from an off-the-shelf guitar.

The big thing for me is a maple neck. The only reason I would ever order a custom Gibson (and this is highball fantasy talk since I'll never ever be able to afford it or justify the expense) is to get a Les Paul with a maple neck. The neck is one of the most permanent parts of the guitar. You can swap pickups and tuners and plastics and hardware and all that shit with aftermarket parts no sweat, but you can't stick a maple neck on there. What's the point of a program like this if you can't get a guitar that's custom from the wood upwards?
 

Bobby Mahogany

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Everyone has their favorites. I don't know what Gibson's sales numbers are for each model, but do they have to make so many models every year?
I have no idea as I have not seen the numbers.
But in a "circle of products", you have stars, leaders, milking cows, etc. and eventually dogs.
Each one contributes to the revenues in their own way (dogs aside, of course).
Costs vs revenues. All sorts of models for all sorts of people.
(2015 models would fill a few thesis on their own. It was a "special" year, to say the least.)
But with rare exceptions, eventually, they all get sold.
 

MikeyTheCat

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I have no idea as I have not seen the numbers.
But in a "circle of products", you have stars, leaders, milking cows, etc. and eventually dogs.
Each one contributes to the revenues in their own way (dogs aside, of course).
Costs vs revenues. All sorts of models for all sorts of people.
(2015 models would fill a few thesis on their own. It was a "special" year, to say the least.)
But with rare exceptions, eventually, they all get sold.
The one that has the most potential to tank a business is the milk cow, if the business depends on it too much. You can win the market and makes a lot of profit as long as you don't become the king of buggy whips. Gibson, I think, had become dependent on it's two milk cows about a decade ago. Hell, they made one of their milk cows also their star and leader.
 

ehb

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They lost sight long ago of the fact that Quality & Service is the milk cow, not a chunk of wood....or any inanimate object.

We've all seen QC pukes.

I've tried to deal with Gib Support.
First response = Ten freaking days. Contact was done on THEIR website.
Response to my reply to theirs = Six freaking days.
Synopsis of engagement: Worthless endeavor. Canned response without even reading my initial or reply. Sixteen days with no attempt of assistance/etc. Worthless.

In my past work history, I repeatedly dealt directly with companies bigger than Gib, and CS folks would usually bend over backwards to resolve your issue AND make you happy. It was kinda sorta like their freaking job...and they were good at it... and quick. It was that "Keep Our Customers Happy" and they will be repeat customers forever mentality...
 

NewDayHappy

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(similar to the TV Les Paul from the 50s)
- Double cut Les Paul
- Semi hollow
- P90 pickups

That would kill it in just about every popular genre of music today. Jazz, Indy, country, blues, rock.
 

jap545

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The Standard as is but with Titanium adjustable nut and Candy finished as with the 2015 range and a longer scale option. I'd keep the QC circuit board on the standard but make it better quality. The Traditional (my favorite) as is but i would offer Faded tobacco with cherry back and trans amber cherry back and long scale option. The bursts would be sprayed as bursts should be. Not just the perimeter like they are doing now aside from heritage cherry. The Special single cut with P90's. The Special Double cut P90's and the Studio of course in either gloss or satin finishes with scale lenth options.
 

Prostheta

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Okay, I'll bite. Firstly, the opening question is a little vague and ridiculous in some ways but I'll take it for what it is.

Replacing Henry with anybody that is going to try and make decisions for the entire company on their own is simply making themselves Henry II. The better choice would be to look at the marketplace and see what it wants and how Gibson could adapt a 2019 lineup to work within that. Simply banging together five personal dream LPs doesn't cut it. The marketplace isn't represented by corksniffing boomers, so sorry guys, a vintage correct 50s burst and this and that is only capturing a small fraction of the potential market. Putting money into market research would be far better than trying to recapture a horse that's long bolted.

If however, I was forced at gunpoint....

Vanilla. All across the board.

  • Junior - P90
  • Special - P90s, Bigsby opt.
  • Custom - inc. a goldtop
  • Standard - it's standard. Hmm. Maybe option for weight relief.
  • Studio - 2x buckers
No wacky finishes. No weird robot tuners. No PCBs. No messing around with vintage-correct this or vintage-correct that. No zero frets.

I don't however think that this represents an adequate enough answer for the real world, but maybe a basis for one. Take the production style of companies like Fender, and ship out certain ranges to the high class factories in Korea like WMI. The Junior, Studio and Special might better be made as imports financially speaking. Reduce US-made to the models that benefit from that tag. If market analysis shows that the company would best ship out ALL of the models in order to keep the ship afloat without tanking the rep (what rep?) then do that. Pragmatic. Factories like WMI scale quality wonderfully, and consistency is what Gibson have lacked for longer than I like to think.

I'm sure that this will ruffle a number of feathers, but even attempting to save an old sinking iron frigate like Gibson means making some tough choices. Factoring that in:

  • Junior - Korean. $800.
  • Special - Korean. $900
  • Custom - MIK, $2000. US, $3500.
  • Standard - MIK, $1500. US, $2500
  • Studio - MIK, $1000
Almost firesale prices, but given enough attention to making the instruments at a high standard the name might be able to maintain its value and meaning. Ship it out or let it die at the roadside.
 

major

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Gibson are victims of their own success. They promoted the idea of THE LES PAUL ABOVE ALL OTHERS!!!

so now it's like no one cares about anything else they do, they just want Les Pauls.
Funnily enough, I grew up in the UK completely ignorant of the existence of Les Pauls.

At 11 years old, at the start of the 60's, I started at a school which meant I walked past a large Music Store.
The windows always had numerous Gibsons in it, and obviously (as LPs had been dropped from the range), they were all 330/5s and SGs, along with a few big jazz models.

I remember being in London in '65, and picking up a very nice Gibson brochure, full of exquisite stuff - but still no LPs!!

So they might not know how to do it nowadays, but Gibson DID know back then how to survive without the things!

Maybe a lesson to learn from their past?? :fingersx:

PS. I wish I'd kept the brochure - I bumped into Pete Quaif from the Kinks, that day, and he signed it for me - which was nice.....
 

E1WOOD5150

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I would offer a Jr., a Studio, a Traditional, a Standard, and a Custom.
‘50s neck on the Jr. and Traditional, ‘60s neck on the Studio and Standard, and both for the Custom.
The Custom finishes would be the traditional Alpine White or Ebony, the Jr. in TV Yellow, Alpine White, Red, and Sunburst, the rest would come in HCB, GT, Ebony, Tobacco/Desert Burst, and Honey Burst.
RW fretboards for all except the Custom which would have the option of Ebony for a reasonable up charge.
I'm totally with James R on this, with one small addition: offer Ebony as a finish on the Jr.


***EDIT***
ALL Gibson guitars get a proper hard case. Gibson's and gig bags go together like string beans and ice cream.
 
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AccustomedtoStandards

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One thing Fender is doing right is the Masterbuilt program. A $2400 premium to have your guitar be designed, built and setup by one man.
On top of that, I'd like to see Gibson do something like the Fender Mod Shop:

https://shop.fender.com/en-US/mod-shop

Where you could specifically pick what you wanted from a preselected variety of parts. Jackson Custom Select is kind of similar and falls in between Mod Shop and Masterbuilt price-wise (my dream spec Dinky would be $2,780). I wish Fender offered 24 frets and Floyds for Mod Shop, but guess that's what Jackson and Charvel are for.
 

OldBenKenobi

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On top of that, I'd like to see Gibson do something like the Fender Mod Shop:

https://shop.fender.com/en-US/mod-shop

Where you could specifically pick what you wanted from a preselected variety of parts. Jackson Custom Select is kind of similar and falls in between Mod Shop and Masterbuilt price-wise (my dream spec Dinky would be $2,780). I wish Fender offered 24 frets and Floyds for Mod Shop, but guess that's what Jackson and Charvel are for.
That sounds cool but none of those links work for me, they just redirect me back to the homepage.
 

vintageguitarz

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Say Henry just got tossed out of Gibson and you were hired to replace him and you were told the budget only allowed for 5 Models of the Les Paul for production in 2019, what Model and finish recommendations would you give to the board to save the ship from sinking like the Titanic.

http://www.gibson.com/Products/Electric-Guitars/Les-Paul/Gibson-USA/Les-Paul-Studio-Deluxe-60s-Exclusive.aspx

This is one I would recommend.
By limiting it to just 5 models of Les Paul's you just sank Gibson. The idea is to do market research on WHAT SELLS THE MOST and can be built on a common unit body ... i.e. the same basic Mahogany with Maple top body to cut costs and offer based on the Marketing 2 to 3 neck shapes. A non-Maple Top for the Studios, a Mahogany slab for the Juniors, Specials, etc. DIFFERENTIATE! - stop making models that STEALS sales from other models that are more coveted and profitable. Fret board inlays by TRADITION - Blocks, Traps and Dots per a Tier of being a "Custom" model, a Standard Model or a "Economy" model.

Make the models that traditionally made Gibson MONEY, AND people WANT based on on-going research. Get rid of the goofy "spin-off" models like the ES 135 and similar. Make (with consideration to the Research Marketing) Traditional models like ES175's, ES335's, ES330's, limited models of SG's, incl a Bass, LP's that SELL without goofy paint schemes, etc., and use your own damn PuP's with better quality.

Sell Epiphone to the Chinese or one of the Korean manufacturers with licensing restrictions BUT change the name to Epiphone Squire (ala Fender "Squier") but use a different name and lower the quility to Walmart level. Epiphone garbage has been stealing sales from Gibson long enough and it's time to END IT. Let it be marketed for what it is, imported garbage for garage band level players.

Create a new USA and/or Japanese made line (use Fujigen Gaki or similar Japanese factory) called Gibson Studio that is 80% the quality of Gibson USA models, but with 20%ish lower quality woods, electronics (MIJ PuPs, switches, pots etc) and ONLY Dot Inlays. Fujigen Gaki made Fender Guitars are good as the best USA production line Fenders of the 80's, they made the Fender Esprit archtop semi-solid line that Robin Ford used for a decade. Look, you don't see Fender in any financial or sales trouble, emulate Fender and it'll work. (disclosure - I worked for Fender as a Production Director / Luthier in the 70's and 80's)

Bottom line, Gibson is antiquated and run now by idiots that don't understand Market Research .... or frankly how to make "Instruments" for the 21st Century.
 
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ddh101

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To expand on the original question, my view of the “new” Gibson along with my list of five:

Establish small retail brand stores in major markets. Sell direct via website and through these stores only. Also improve after-sale service through these retail locations or no-cost shipping for warranty work. Cut out middle man and reduce prices.

Right-size operations and production. Close Memphis and combine all “electric” production at a single campus. Re-focus on quality not quantity - which should improve demand.

My five LP models:

Junior/Special (offer two finishes each year / alternate models each year). Meat

Studio (offer two finishes each year / alternate models each year). Meat

Traditional (offer three finishes each year). Potatoes

Custom (always offer White & Black). Potatoes

LP of the Year - Gibson should offer a new LP design or pay homage to a select past LP design (Limited Edition/production) in this slot every year. Dessert

Custom Shop will return to true “Custom” by offering build to order guitars that are of exceptional hand built quality and historic accuracy (when appropriate) within a range of style, finish and appointment offerings. The Custom Shop will offer one “R” Production Model guitar each year (alternate model each year) with appropriate traditional finishes that would have been offered in the year model of original production - NOS finish only). Include 335’s in “R” options. A great cigar and a glass of Pappy

But what do I know about running a guitar company?
 




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