Why Are Gibson Guitars So Expensive?

In the Guitar world, Gibson is considered one of the most iconic and well-known brands. This is because they have been responsible for some of the most popular guitars ever made. Their rich history of producing high-quality instruments has made them a favorite among legends like Jimmy Page and Angus Young.

The great tone and playability of Gibson guitars come with a hefty price tag. But why are Gibson guitars so expensive? There are many reasons that make these guitars so pricey.

The main reason is that they are made in the USA, where the labor cost is high, and therefore the price of the final product is higher. They also use high-quality materials, which brings up the value that much more.

But, those are not the only factors that contribute to the high price. So, let’s take a look at the different stages of production to understand all the reasons behind the high cost of Gibson guitars.

why are gibson guitars so expensive

Made in the United States of America

Gibson has been making guitars in the USA for many decades. It’s no surprise that their guitars are often more expensive than those made in other countries, where the labor cost is much cheaper.

Gibson has a long history of expertise and quality, which is reflected in their prices. The more experienced labor and the higher quality materials used in America often lead to a better product.

There are three main factories that Gibson owns and operates in the USA. The first is located in Nashville, Tennessee. The second is in Memphis, Tennessee, and the third is in Bozeman, Montana.

Take the Gibson factory tour in the video below.

Use of Superior Quality Woods

Gibson has been known for its high-quality guitars, and the company keeps it up with solid tonewoods including maple, mahogany, ebony, and rosewood. Nowadays, these woods are becoming more difficult to find, which is one of the reasons Gibson guitars are so expensive.

Gibson is committed to making the best guitars they can. Using only the highest quality materials is one of the things that sets Gibson apart from other guitar companies.

Check out our Gibson vs Fender comparison here!

High-Quality Electronics

The sound of a guitar is influenced heavily by its electronics. A guitar’s electronics are what give it a unique sound. All the electronic parts in a Gibson guitar, like pickups, switches, and capacitors, are made with high-quality materials and put together with great care.

These parts are primarily manufactured in the United States, so you can be sure that you’re getting a top-notch sounding product when you play on one of these guitars.

Even in this modern world, where computer-assisted manufacturing is the norm, there’s still a place for the hand-wired pickups in Gibson guitar models. That’s because they maintain that “Gibson sound” which has made this company known throughout music history.

High-Priced Finishing

Gibson guitar finish

To give an elegant look to guitars, Gibson uses nitrocellulose finishing. This makes their guitars stand out, but it also drives up the price. Applying the finish to the guitars involves a lot of coats and polishing. This is necessary to get the great finish that players love about their Gibson guitars, but takes time.

There are also regulations around the use of the nitrocellulose finish that make it harder to use. For example, because the chemical is regulated, Gibson is only allowed by law to use only so much of it every day. This means they are also limited to how many guitars can be finished per day.

Other companies have moved to finishes that have lower VOCs and are not as regulated, so they can spray as much as they like every day.

But in the case of Gibson, the company prefers the old-school method of nitrocellulose lacquer, which gives the guitars a distinct look.

Plek Process

The Plek process is done on every single guitar that leaves the Gibson factory. To ensure that each guitar is of the highest quality, it must pass through the Plek machine. The Plek is an expensive and technologically advanced CNC (Computer Numerical Control) testing device used to check for imperfections in the neck and then levels and dresses the frets and cuts the nut.

This process guarantees that your guitar will be properly tuned and accurate to the original specifications. And because the machine is able to hold tight tolerances down to a thousandth of an inch, your strings will never buzz on out of tolerance frets.

It is worth the extra cost to have this expensive machine work on your guitar because it will be free of any defects that could affect the quality of sound and playability.

Manual Processes Done By Hand

Even though Gibson uses CNC machines to carry out a majority of their building processes, there are still many tasks that are done by hand. Each phase of assembly will require human hands to assemble, polish, solder, and spray to complete a quality guitar.

With the addition of each of these manual processes, the cost to produce the guitar is higher. But these are important steps that ultimately make a better-looking and sounding guitar, which is well worth the additional cost in the end.

This is why Gibson still hires talented people who bring superior craftsmanship to the table when they design and build their guitars.

Brand History and Reputation

Since the early days of rock ‘n’ roll, Gibson has been one of the most respected guitar brands in the world. Over the past seven decades, Gibson has released some of the most popular and iconic guitars ever made, such as the Les Paul and the SG.

Today, Gibson is still one of the top guitar brands, thanks to their commitment to quality and innovative design. It is evident that an instrument with such a rich history and reputation is going to cost more than other guitars on the market.

Another big reason why Gibson guitars are so costly is because of their famous logo. This logo is synonymous with quality and prestige, and it’s something that Gibson customers are willing to pay extra for.

Conclusion

So, Why are Gibson guitars so expensive? While there are many reasons for their high price tag, there are a few that stand out as particularly important. The cost of hiring labor in the United States of America contributes to their premium prices.

Gibson uses only the finest quality woods, electronics, and finishes in every model, resulting in high-end guitars. Additionally, the Expensive Plek process ensures that each guitar is set up perfectly for optimal playability and tone.

Finally, the company’s brand history and reputation add to its value. All of these factors combine to make Gibson guitars some of the best, and most expensive, on the market today. If you have ever played a Gibson guitar, you will know that all of this combined is well worth the higher price!

FAQs

How do you verify a Gibson?

There are a few ways to verify that a Gibson is a real deal:

  1. Take a look at the headstock. A genuine Gibson will have the company’s name in script lettering.
  2. Check the body of the guitar. Gibsons have a unique body shape, so if the body doesn’t match up with the images shown on the website, it’s likely not a genuine Gibson.
  3. Make sure that there is no 3 screw truss rod cover.
  4. A real Gibson should have a warranty card with a matching serial number on it.
  5. Finally, check the sound of the guitar. Gibsons are known for their warm, rich tones, so if the guitar doesn’t sound right, it’s probably not genuine.

Who owns Gibson guitars now?

An American private equity firm called KKR owns Gibson guitars now. In 2018, the company filed for bankruptcy, but KKR has said that it is committed to Gibson and can’t see the brand failing.

Can you visit the Gibson factory?

Yes! The Gibson factory is located in Memphis, Tennessee, and offers tours to the public. These tours give you the feel of the factory and how each guitar is made with pride. Also, you can see the different machines that are used in the making of a Gibson guitar.

Can you buy guitars directly from Gibson?

Yes, you can. Gibson offers a few different purchasing options on their website. You can buy a guitar outright and have it shipped to you.

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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear. I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!