If you name any prominent rock guitarist, there’s a pretty good chance that they have played or do play a Gibson guitar. The list of well known guitarists who play Gibson products is quite long.

Gibson has a long history as an instrument maker and is celebrating their 120th anniversary this year.

In 1894, Orville Gibson began selling instruments out of a single-room workshop in the small town of Kalamazoo Michigan. Eight years later, the Gibson Guitar Corporation was founded in 1902 as “The Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co., Ltd.

Since those early days, the company has produced some significant guitar innovations including archtop guitars and hollow-body electric guitars. Some of the most iconic guitar designs have come from Gibson as well: the Flying V, the Explorer, the Firebird and, of course, the classic Les Paul.

To mark the 120th year milestone, Gibson has released their 2014 models with features that help with playability and look great too. I got a chance to drop by the Gibson booth at NAMM 2014 this year to seethis year’s lineup of guitars. Some of the features are subtle, but a lot of small details add up to some very nice instruments you’ll want to hold in your hands and play.

Stuff You Can’t See

Gibson has tweaked a number of things on this year’s line that may not be evident at first glance.

Coated Strings

The 2014 model year guitars ship with coated strings. Not the plastic veneer that guitarists cringe at, but an ultra-thin coating that’s supposedly less than one micron thick. The folks at Gibson say that these strings will resist wear and tear so much so that they’ll last 3 to 5 times longer than uncoated strings.

Cryogenically Treated Fret Wire

In an effort to reduce wear and tear on the frets of the 2014 product line, Gibson has decided to put their fret wire through a 72 hour deep-freeze process (300 degrees below zero). They claim that this process increases the life of the frets four times longer than an untreated fret wire.

Stuff You Can See

120th Anniversary Inlay

The first thing that will mark this years guitars as unique is a 120th Anniversary mother-of-pearl inlay at the 12th fret. Only Gibson guitars made during the 120th Anniversary year have this mark. It’s not an glaring, in-your-face addition, but rather a subtle, classic looking feature that will distinguish the guitar from other models.

Nuts, Knobs and Buttons

Gibson has now included TekToid™ graphite nuts on all of the guitars it builds. The nuts are small parts of the guitar, but have a very important role in the way your guitar sounds – especially when you want to stay in tune!

Supreme Grip Speed Knobs are now standard on Gibson guitars. They sport indents around the top which allow you to reliably dial in the tone and volume you need no matter how little grip your sweaty fingers can muster.

The larger strap buttons may seem like a modest improvement, but if you’re an energetic player you’ll have some peace of mind that your guitar will be secure to the strap throughout all your killer stage antics.


Finally, the MinEtune system is available on many models of the Gibson line. It is a compact, battery powered tuner that tunes your guitar in seconds. This is the fifth generation of the MinEtune system introduced back in 2007 with the Gibson Robot Guitar.

You can’t tell that the tuner is installed on a Gibson guitar by looking at the front of the guitar. The system is unobtrusive, light and fast. The tuner’s battery will give you 80 to 100 tunings per charge. It is the first automatic tuner that allows you to tune manually as well as automatically. It comes shipped with 12 different standard tunings and allows you to program an additional 6 user-defined tunings.

Final Thoughts

Gibson has a long, respected history of making instruments that are played by every kind of musician out there. Electric guitars, for all intents and purposes, haven’t really changed in any significant functional way for the better part of a century. You’d think that a company, such as Gibson, that commands a good share of the market would be content to sit back and reap the rewards of its reputation.


I’m pleased to see that they view their product line as an unfinished work of art – always looking for ways to improve and to inspire. I’d love to hear your stories about Gibson, guitarists or cool innovations for the guitar.

Take a look at all the Gibson guitars Best Buy has to offer – in store and online. If you buy or order one that isn’t exactly what you want, feel free to return it or try another!




Dave Chick
I'm a film / TV composer based in Vancouver BC. Music has always been part of my life, but my first career was in the technology industry as a consultant and project manager. I helped to build and open the Experience Music Project – a rock and roll museum in Seattle. I hold a Bachelor of Music from the University of Western Ontario and a Master of Business Administration degree from McMaster University. I also hold a diploma in Audio Engineering from the University of Washington and I’m a graduate of Hummie Mann’s acclaimed Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program.