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Why doesn't Gibson make amps anymore?

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  • Why doesn't Gibson make amps anymore?

    They made some cool stuff in the 50s and 60s. Their more recent Goldtone line was cool too.

    I have an old GA 40T. Cool amp with lots of bark.
    Originally posted by MrKnobs
    God, that's beautiful man! And they say romance is dead!

  • #2
    Good question. AFAIK the closest is the Les Paul series of monitors. Gibson owns various other companies and they do market amps sometimes under the Epiphone brand, but I'm not aware of anything under their own name.
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    • #3
      Unlike guitars, amps come with a ton of logistics baggage. While I don't have an inside track into what Gibson is doing or why, here's my best guesses:

      #1 - they are very heavy and expensive to ship.
      #2 - anything that plugs into a wall socket requires an expensive and time-consuming process to get certification in all countries (which all have different standards) they will be marketed in.
      #3 - sub-components like tubes and speakers are usually purchased from a 3rd party adding significant additional costs.
      #4 - guitar players are cheap and won't pay what the product is worth/costs.
      #5 - because of the electricity issue, there are legal liability problems.
      #6 - the current wave of "players," which are far fewer than just a few years ago, are fine with using plug-ins on their smart-phones.
      #7 - if it doesn't say "Fender" it's a tough sell. Even if it is a Fender, it's still a tough sell for a new amp when places like eBay and Craigslist provide perfectly good used product (which is usually preferred over new) at a significant discount.
      #8 - and etc.

      When one of my associates was considering relaunching a vintage amp brand the foregoing was basically the advice I gave for why I thought it was a bad idea. They ignored me and went ahead anyway. Last year they grudgingly admitted that everything I had said was right.
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      • #4
        They never got over that Pauls sound real good in Fenders.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by 1001gear View Post
          They never got over that Pauls sound real good in Fenders.


          Kinda like putting a big block chevy in a 32 ford roadster. Ford got over that, and still make engines.




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          • #6
            Their newer amps were notoriously plagued with problems. The last gig-able amp I remember them making was the 30w GA42 [about 10 years ago?]...online reviewers loved the amp, owners lined up in droves to complain about them stopping working after a short honeymoon, and Gibson was hard pressed to do the repairs under warranty. The re-issues of the GA 20 and GA 40 suffered similar issues.
            The Goldtone Les Paul amps were problematic, because they had all the controls on the backside bottom, and that pimped-out finish said 'keep me in your living room/studio away from other people'. They do sound good, but the original price was strictly for corksniffers...who could afford another $500 for a custom made ATA case.
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            • #7
              The most successful line of modern amps Gibson made in my opinion was the Lab Series amps. People still like the way they sound and they still sell for decent money.

              Why Gibson comes out with a line of amps and then fails to follow up with a new line is an on going story as old as the company is. They've done this throughout their history and I can only assume its intentional. It may be to threaten other manufacturers and increase their market shares or to simply make a statement they can make amps if they chose to. Then when they do make an amp you don't know weather to take them seriously or not.

              Since I was a kid I always saw the older Gibson amps as being old foggie amps. Most were weak in volume and totally unsuitable for the rock music we played. May were so old you'd destroy them at full volume. Today anything seems to go, especially for recording where you don't have to crank things up. Good PA's are not a problem either. you wouldn't think of micing an amp back in the days where a Kustom or Vocal master was all a band could afford. Like I said, the Lab Series was a game change for Gibson. it put them in the concert amp league but like every other amp line they let it die on the vine just when the amp was gaining traction. Even BB King used one playing live.

              Unless Gibson plans on getting into amps for the long haul I don't take them serious as an amp manufacturer. Even if they do come out with an amp musicians will be spooked out of buying one because they have no idea if its a good product and if not, how soon will Gibson drop the line and leave them hung out to dry for support.

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              • daddymack
                daddymack commented
                Editing a comment
                Lab series is hardly modern, they came out in the 70s, and were, notably designed by of all people, Robert Moog. They are very interesting amps, indeed, but inconveniently heavy, IIRC. I played with a guy way back who had the L11 200W head...it was loud enough to keep up with my Marshall SL100, but had no ballz...even on the 'dirty' channel [IMHO]. These had built in compression, unheard of in the day, which did get a nice 'squish'

              • WRGKMC
                WRGKMC commented
                Editing a comment
                Modern is a relative term that has nothing to do with actual dates of manufacture.

                When compared to the "Vintage" tube designs Gibson typically used, or the "Basic" SS amps used by Gibson in the 70's the lab series were a much more "Advanced" Professional line of solid state amps using top quality components and construction. That's what I mean by modern, they are advanced or modern in comparison to vintage tube.

                Who designed Gibson amps? Again, by the sporadic sales of different amp lines, my guess is Gibson didn't rely on hiring full time engineers to design amp lines. That's a really big expense and there has always been allot of competition. Compared to what Leo Fender did by having people like Fullerton from the beginning who had an education is electronics beginning and could do most of the actual designing, then people like Randal, Taveras, and many others either designed or modified designs.

                Gibson didn't design the Lab series, but they did have a marketing agreement to sell them during the Norlin years to market the amps through their dealership network. Gibson has done that with many different lines in the past, like the Maestro stuff which made some excellent quality foot pedals which were years ahead of their time.

                Bob Moog was a good 25 years ahead of his time with building the Lab series amps. In fact I cant think of many that can even match the quality of components and the quality of the build and being able to do that at a low cost affordable by most musicians. Compare the build to the mass produced junk made by companies like Vox, Fender, Marshall, Peavy, they don't even come close.

                I suppose you need to be an electronic tech to appreciate a quality build over something that simply looks cool from the outside, and when it comes to sound quality, it really doesn't matter what you use to get it so long as it sounds good.
                Last edited by WRGKMC; 02-11-2019, 02:04 PM.

            • #8
              I have me one of these lil Gisbon amps. It records well, but 5 watts ain't much power.
              I like the Goldtone stuff that Gibson rebadged from Trace Elliot.

              I probably have 1/2 dozen or more Fender amps and need another amp like I need a hole in my head.






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              • #9
                Originally posted by Verne Andru View Post
                Unlike guitars, amps come with a ton of logistics baggage. While I don't have an inside track into what Gibson is doing or why, here's my best guesses:

                #1 - they are very heavy and expensive to ship.
                #2 - anything that plugs into a wall socket requires an expensive and time-consuming process to get certification in all countries (which all have different standards) they will be marketed in.
                #3 - sub-components like tubes and speakers are usually purchased from a 3rd party adding significant additional costs.
                #4 - guitar players are cheap and won't pay what the product is worth/costs.
                #5 - because of the electricity issue, there are legal liability problems.
                #6 - the current wave of "players," which are far fewer than just a few years ago, are fine with using plug-ins on their smart-phones.
                #7 - if it doesn't say "Fender" it's a tough sell. Even if it is a Fender, it's still a tough sell for a new amp when places like eBay and Craigslist provide perfectly good used product (which is usually preferred over new) at a significant discount.
                #8 - and etc.

                When one of my associates was considering relaunching a vintage amp brand the foregoing was basically the advice I gave for why I thought it was a bad idea. They ignored me and went ahead anyway. Last year they grudgingly admitted that everything I had said was right.
                Well, that was really a depressing read. You couldn't be any more correct either. I went to guitar center to purchase a new amp after being out of the game for a few years. Talk about a rude awakening. This planet has left me behind I'm afraid...

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                • #10
                  My 1st amp was a Gibson amp (Norlin)....kinda....SG Systems 610 (circa 1976)
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