Gibson Brands is an American company that manufactures guitars and other musical instruments. The company is currently set up in Nashville, Tennessee. The company was a roaring hit in the early 1900s. Founded in 1902, the company started by making archtop- guitars that are used in violins. It became an instant success and sold many guitars years from 1910-1950. The Gibson company was founded by Orville Gibson when he patented a mandolin. The mandolin was more durable than any other instrument, and the rest is history. There is a saying that it is likely that any music you hear after 1900 is played on a Gibson. Such was the popularity of the brand.
With time and competition, the company became less popular. In relation to the current competition faced by the company, it earns the majority of its profits by auctioning the guitars used by major celebrities and guitarists. In May 2022, it auctioned the British group Oasis’ member Noel Gallagher’s Gibson guitar. The guitar was broken at the French capital’s Rock en Seine festival in 2009. The moment became so iconic, and the guitar was auctioned for 385,500 euros in Paris. In this article, we have round-up top 10 greatest Gibson guitars of all times. Read on ahead for the complete list.
10. 1954 Gibson Les Paul Junior
The most famous Gibson guitar to date, it is available in many color options such as vintage sunburst, cherry red, and TV Yellow. The yellow color is the most popular color option and is opted for by many. The company still makes the model, but it is priced relatively high from what it initially was. Seeing the popularity of the brand, Epiphone came with its own Jr., which was priced at $120, at what Gibson guitar started with. The guitar is structured with one pickup and comes with a single P-90 (usually) pickup, placed in the bridge position.
9. Gibson Explorer
This guitar belongs to the metal and complex rock families nowadays up with the Flying V. Over the years, the Gibson guitar underwent many changes. The placement of the knob frame and the type of wood used, to name a few. The Explorer was released in 1958 but was soon discontinued. The improved design was re-released in 1967 and has been a hit since then. The changes included the type of wood that was changed from mahogany to Korina, which it initially started with. The changed version was very popular in the 70s.
8. 1956 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop
One of the most classic finish guitars, which are still very popular and a favorite from all the range. The guitar is famous for its finish quality, giving it a luxurious look. The surface has a cracked finish, resulting in smooth, high-quality sound. The Goldtop revolutionized the Jr. with its Tune-O-Matic bridge. The guitar is now preferred above the Jr. mainly because of its double P-90. The sound produced by this double P-90 ranges somewhere between a single coil to a humbucker. This allows for more mature playability and better sound quality than the Jr.
7. Gibson Flying V
The flying V guitar came with the Explorer and is also built the same as the Explorer. The Flying V deserves a higher spot because of its popularity and the kind of quality it delivers, which is better than the Explorer. The typical stylish guitar you see on the cover of a Guitar Hero case, the Flying V, is very edgy. It mostly belongs to the metal and rock-hard families now. When the new and improved version came out in 1967, the blue guitarist went crazy about it.
6. 1954 Gibson Les Paul Custom
The original Les paul started to gain attention in the markets in 1952. But the custom was released in 1954. The reason for introducing the custom was to provide a more luxurious and stylish-looking guitar for the player. Playing the guitar is an experience and the company wishes to expand that experience. The original gold body was replaced with a black body which refined the whole look of the piece. It was popularly known as “black beauty” and “Fretless Wonder” because of the outer appearance of the guitar. The guitar sports a P-90 pickup in the bridge position on the body.
5. Gibson ES-335
This Gibson guitar started as a jazz chords guitar, famous for its semi-hollow sound quality. With its popularity and the improvements it went through over the years, the guitar has become an all-rounder in every possible genre of music. The guitar is the first choice for famous players like B.B. King, all the way to Tom Delonge. The body of this guitar is built in-sleek to hold the grip very firmly. Starting as a jazz chord guitar, this is the most successful revolutionized guitar in the history of Gibson.
4. 1957 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty
Following the success of the Les Custom and the popularised nickname it got for its body comes this newest edition of improvements in the same line range. Peter Frampton’s signature guitar is equipped with a 3-pickup changing system. The guitar is known for its sleek look and jet-black body, which comes equipped with a 3-way pickup switching system. The guitar was very famous among the Blue guitarists of the time when it was released. It remains the first choice among many because of the luxurious finish and the semi-hollow sound quality it provides. This deserves a spot in the top 5 in the list.
3. 1961 Gibson SG
This changed the future for the Les Paul guitars, which it replaced. Les Paul was unhappy with the current production and thus asked his name to be removed from the new piece. The guitar was therefore called SG, meaning Solid Guitar. It was meant to provide ease in playing with its lighter body. The SG was distinguished for its light body and more sleek look, which provided ease to the player. The light weight of the guitar needs a forearm backup while playing. Otherwise, the neck might fall. It was a new experiment and worked in favor of the company.
2. 1957 Gibson Les Paul
This revolutionized the complete range of the Les Pauls. This was the first guitar in this range that came with humbuckers. It still had all the original qualities of the Les Paul range, from the gold finish to the side-bound tops. But the additional effect was the humbuckers. And it made all the difference in the music playing experience. This became the first choice of many professional and non-professional players. This improved Les Paul deserves a sweeping second spot in our Top 10 list. The guitar has sold a million pieces and is running for approx. 50+ years now.
1. 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard
If we are comparing the greatness of a guitar-based on its popularity, then this guitar is hands down the winner. And if we are reaching a guitar based on its excellence, then this is an undisputed winner too. This has got the best of both worlds. And why not? It is the Les Paul Standard for a reason. It is played by some the players like Billy Gibbons, Slash, Jimmy Page (1960), and Paul McCartney (also 1960). The most expensive Les Paul can even go to the extent of $400k when it comes to price.