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If there is a more iconic guitar on the planet than the Gibson Les Paul, I don’t know what it is. Launched in 1952 in honor of – and with the help of – guitar great Les Paul, the instrument we are talking about was out of favor by the late ‘50s, being considered old-fashioned and too heavy and expensive. But the Les Paul guitar would not go away and in the late ‘60s enjoyed a revival due to rock and roll players, such as Keith Richards and Eric Clapton, that continues to this day.
Gibson’s version of the humbucking pickup, the PAF (“Patent Applied For”), was first used on the Les Paul in 1957 and is still sought after for its sound. With declining guitar sales in the early 1960’s, due primarily to competition from Fender, Gibson did a major revamping of the Les Paul and found themselves with another winner and future rock icon: the SG.
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Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Company
Founded in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1902, the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Company is a giant in the world of modern guitars. Originator of the archtop guitar, Gibson’s early success was due to the popularity, particularly among jazz guitarists, of its hollow-body electrics such as the ES-150 and ES-335.
Gibson Buys Epiphone
In 1957, Gibson bought its main rival, Turkish musical instrument manufacturer Epiphone. Epiphone guitars built by Gibson up until 1969 were, in fact, identical to actual Gibson guitars in everything but name. In 1970 Gibson decided to make Epiphone their budget line, changing the models and having them built by Aria in Japan. In fact, for a few years Epiphone guitars were actually re-branded Aria models.
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The 21st century finds Gibson to be a giant in the musical instrument world, producing brands such as Baldwin, Kramer, Slingerland, Steinberger and Wurlitzer.
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