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I had a very old Falcon that sounded amazing. Why did Gibson amps not become a house hold name like Fender, Marshall etc?
 

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This is the same question I've been asking myself since first owning a vintage Gibson amp. Never really been able to answer it either, other than the obvious fact that Fender put far more marketing muscle into their amps than Gibson ever did. I've owned several examples, from the late 50's & early 60's in particular, that definitely put some equivalent vintage Fender amps to shame...for about 1/3 the price. My tweed Lancer replaced my brownface Super as my #1 go-to amp for example.

One thing I DO know: For the most part, they remain an incredible bargain in the vintage amp market which is a great situation for players. I'd suggest we keep this knowledge on the DL though, ok? ;^ )
 

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Weren't most of them OEMed by other makers? Like Gibson didn't even make them; they were never tooled up for electronics. My studio partner's old 60s Kalamazoo Model 2 was made in Chicago ( I forget by who now, but it says right on the thing) and the infamous Lab series was Moog ( Norlin years, same owners) for a time, and even Garnet made a few.
 

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They Onkyo recently. You know, the stereo equipment sold at Consumers Distributing before they went the way of the dinosaur. Perhaps they have plans?
 

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Weren't most of them OEMed by other makers? Like Gibson didn't even make them; they were never tooled up for electronics. My studio partner's old 60s Kalamazoo Model 2 was made in Chicago ( I forget by who now, but it says right on the thing) and the infamous Lab series was Moog ( Norlin years, same owners) for a time, and even Garnet made a few.
Exactly. It's a completely different business. I suppose they could have acquired an established amp maker and renamed them to Gibson.
IMO, it's because as a business entity, Gibson has spent a lot of years in turmoil. But conversely they did make other acquisitions like Baldwin pianos.
I don't believe ppl look to buy the same brand amps as their guitars so, it may just be seen as not being diversified enough to be so heavy in one segment.
Maybe they had relationships with amp companies already established via investments or shared board members. I dunno.
It's a good question, but hard to know for sure, other than they just didn't want to.
 

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Along a similar vein, I've always wondered why Fender missed the acoustic market.
I think Fender was so strongly thought of as an electric guitar company, they could never get a foot in the acoustic market. Fender was so associated with electric instruments that the electric bass guitar was simply called 'Fender bass' for many years.

I think Gibson couldn't market their amps as an upscale version of Fender in the way they could with their guitars. With no big users, and a revolving door of specs within and between models, they just couldn't get established or find their niche.

TG
 

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I'll preface by saying I was born in 1988 so I can only speculate as to why gibson amps dont have the same acclaim as fenders of the same era but I do have some thoughts.

1) gain. gibson guitars for the most part have historically been equipped with humbuckers or p90s whilest fenders of the same era used single coils. If you've ever played a ga-5 and a champ side by side the champ has a lot more gain available. I speculate that this is because of the difference in pickup output. I think the added gain makes the fenders a little more flexible as you can dial the gain back and get your clean tones whereas if you don't have enough gain available you're not going to be able to add overdrive without a pedal.

2) tubes. while the output sections of most gibson amps used readily available tubes like 6v6's and 6L6's most used big bottle octal preamp tubes. As well a lot of their amps used 7591 output tubes. While at the time of original manufacture those tubes would all be easily available nowadays the more esoteric tube choices mean tube replacements are trickier and more expensive.

3) too many models/marketing. Fenders marketing of their guitars and amps was done very well with endorsers and the like. They also didn't have a huge number of amps. I think by virtue of having more of the same amps out there you were more likely to see someone you admired playing one and could then get that particular amp. the gibson line had so many different amps that were different variations of the same thing but with different features or cosmetic layouts. eg there are at least 4 different gibson ga-5 circuits.

Take this all with a grain of salt but these are some reasons why I think gibson amps don't have the same acclaim as similar fender amps of the same era.
 

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I think it all boils down to sales and marketing. Gibson actually had quite a few models of amps, but the marketing wasn't there. One thing, was Leo Fender himself. Fender had a marketable person for the amps, whereas Gibson's big names were always in the guitar end of things (Les Paul comes to mind).
As for Fender and acoustics. They made some very good ones at one time, but just didn't market properly. My wife has an American made 80's acoustic and it is a gem. She doesn't play anymore, but I don't want to sell it, as it is that nice an instrument.
 

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Friend of mine has a fender 12 string acoustic that he bought new in 1975. It was a good guitar then and had good action for a 12. I played that guitar again for the first time a few years ago and it is still about the same as it always was and has not been looked after at all in 40 or so years that he has owned it.

As for Gibson amps. Many years ago I lugged a huge Gibson amp around for two weeks. It had 6 twelves in the cabinet and there was some kind of heavy electronic thing in the bottom of the cab. The head was solid state and supposed to be 300 watts which it wasn’t. The whole rig weighed about 3 tons and a 5 watt Champ would have blown it out of the water. After 2 weeks with that thing I never thought about Gibson amps again.
 

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As for Gibson amps. Many years ago I lugged a huge Gibson amp around for two weeks. It had 6 twelves in the cabinet and there was some kind of heavy electronic thing in the bottom of the cab. The head was solid state and supposed to be 300 watts which it wasn’t. The whole rig weighed about 3 tons and a 5 watt Champ would have blown it out of the water. After 2 weeks with that thing I never thought about Gibson amps again.
By the sounds of it, you may have chosen the very worst example of an amp ever produced by Gibson (or perhaps anyone) so...not sure that was a reasonable assessment of Gibson amps.
 

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By the sounds of it, you may have chosen the very worst example of an amp ever produced by Gibson (or perhaps anyone) so...not sure that was a reasonable assessment of Gibson amps.
Wasn’t intended to be a reasonable assessment - just something that happened and an epic event lugging that bastard in the trunk of a 66 Impala which I had to tie because the trunk lid wouldn’t close over the cab ... lol

Some of their vintage stuff looks interesting but I don’t need any more amps sitting around.
 

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Honestly, if that had been my experience, I would likely have sworn off Gibson amps for a number of years (if not altogether) as well. It really does sound like the worst amp of all time...ha ha!
 

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Excellent question. And why they are less desirable now is a different question.
Gibson was making their own amps already in the '30s, so it's not that they were all OEM'd although sometimes they were.
And the oddball tubes are a good part of why they are not the best bet now, but when they were current, it was no big deal.
Agree with the marketing angle, and also wonder how they were priced in comparison to Fender in the 50s & 60s.
Maybe they just weren't loud enough, what's a high power Gibson?
 

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they made some decent small amps in the '50's &'60's, but back then no one was cranking them up & getting the juicy tones out of them, that are possible :D

IMO Gibson amps were always pretty cheaply made compared to Fender.

they had another go at it, when they acquired Trace Elliot and released the TE gtr amps as upscale Gibson brand...in the '90's I think?

but that didn't go over well
 

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I might be wrong but Fender hit a home run with the bassman and due to reputation and hype, Gibson never recovered... Gibson amps were popular before hand... then add Marshall to the mix later on and with musician association... only those models were sold... hype !!! Why were Traynor amps sold for 100$ 20 years ago and thought of being garbage by most ??? Hype !!! it wasnt a Marshall or a fender ...
 
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Gibson should have followed the market trends. How hard would it have been to buy a Marshall and reverse engineer it? Then change it a bit and sell amps.
 

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Marketing. In particular, their marketing department. In the 50s, you didn't so much buy a Gibson because of the marketing department, but in spite of it. Build the most desirable electric for three or four years, and then discontinue it a couple years before it catches on. And then take 20 years to figure what people actually want and start to get close to it again. Send Mr Polsfuss packing over and over until you have no choice but to build a guitar to compete with Fender. Yea, they were notorious for getting it wrong more than right.

And all that makes me laugh when people go on and on about being marketed to by Gibson. Not even on a good day. LOL


Seriously though, they probably believed one product would bootstrap the other, that people would buy them as a set and no marketing was required.

Also, I think the fact that they made their amps to work with their higher output guitars and they kinda missed the whole early RnR thing. People were getting the goods with Gibson guitars into Fender amps, much less so with Fender guitars into Fender amps, and never anything into Gibson amps. That whole mismatch of high output guitar into high sensitivity input amp was a great mistake.
 
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