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Hey it's Mat from Gibson Product Development - AMA

Dr. Green

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Dec 12, 2018
Messages
683
hey Mat-

fantastic thread

can you give me a very brief rundown on the specific local of the mahogany used for historic backs over the years

example:
( and these just made up - you put in the correct locals )

early pre historics - Malaysian
1999 good wood era - brazilian
2003- 2007 mexican
2007-2008 honduran
2009 - to present Fuji
 

wmachine

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Mar 17, 2016
Messages
272
Hi Matt. Any chance of finding and revealing any info like production history from Kalamazoo? Seems to be a black hole in Gibson history. I have an extremely unusual '79 Explorer that I've tried to get info about. So little info available. When I contacted Gibson about it, the answer was pretty much "Oh that's Kalamazoo, can't tell you much of anything".
 

Cranknfrank

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Feb 7, 2011
Messages
57
Hi all. Charlie and I thought it might be fun for me to address Gibson (or Epiphone) questions in this thread...whether about current products or mysteries from Gibson's history. I think it's important to hear it straight from the horse's mouth...don't seem to have much luck getting accurately paraphrased or quoted in magazine articles.

If you don't know me, I was a longtime forum geek and I decided to put my passions to use by joining Gibson in April 2016. I started in product management for Custom Shop and Memphis and now I'm doing product development company-wide. I am also a huge Gibson/Epiphone history fan and having access to our archives is an incredible perk of the job. So fan to fan, let's have some fun!
Awesome! Great to have you here!
 

clayville

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Feb 25, 2004
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5,734
I hear you...the combination of the previous regime at Gibson requiring sweeping changes one year to the next and then adopting a new website format and infrastructure really made a mess of the legacy info.... [edit} Separately, we do have more legacy sites that got garbled a bit in the transition which we intend on cleaning up and adding. But that is not really my arena, just what I have heard! Thank you for the question.
I realize there are current supply chain and production capacity limitations as well as other priorities, but I wonder if there are plans to reintroduce the CS-336 and CS-356 ? Wiith so few all-new designs launched over the last 20 years, those two particularly suffered (in my view) from website format changes that dropped them off the Gibson website within a year or two of launch. Even though they were still on offer for a long time (outside the M2M program), almost no one could find accurate information about them. It's also worth remembering for context on the launch of these models that in the early-mid 2000s there seemed to be open skirmishes between Gibson, the savviest online dealers, and the smaller "exclusive territory" shops of the era as everyone adapted (or not) to e-commerce as a fact of life. Then there were (perhaps missteps with) the minimum dealer order/stocking requirements that put a lot of pressure on dealers large and small - and perhaps disincentivized some from trying new models or methods of selling.

I'm a little partial as the original owner of an '03 CS-356 out of the Stinger run at Music machine back in the day, and have been singing their praises here, on Gibson's forum, and elsewhere ever since. Seems like they deserve a new, fair shake eventually... to me at least.
 

matkoehler

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Sep 12, 2014
Messages
394
I realize there are current supply chain and production capacity limitations as well as other priorities, but I wonder if there are plans to reintroduce the CS-336 and CS-356 ? Wiith so few all-new designs launched over the last 20 years, those two particularly suffered (in my view) from website format changes that dropped them off the Gibson website within a year or two of launch. Even though they were still on offer for a long time (outside the M2M program), almost no one could find accurate information about them. It's also worth remembering for context on the launch of these models that in the early-mid 2000s there seemed to be open skirmishes between Gibson, the savviest online dealers, and the smaller "exclusive territory" shops of the era as everyone adapted (or not) to e-commerce as a fact of life. Then there were (perhaps missteps with) the minimum dealer order/stocking requirements that put a lot of pressure on dealers large and small - and perhaps disincentivized some from trying new models or methods of selling.

I'm a little partial as the original owner of an '03 CS-356 out of the Stinger run at Music machine back in the day, and have been singing their praises here, on Gibson's forum, and elsewhere ever since. Seems like they deserve a new, fair shake eventually... to me at least.
We still make them! All the time! They were on the new website but for some reason I can't find them, so thanks for the heads-up. Going to change that. Totally agree they are amazing instruments. Cheers!
 
Joined
Mar 6, 2018
Messages
44
Hey Mat, not sure if this thread is still going, but a couple of things:
Are there any plans to do an accurate Historic run of the V1 Les Paul Custom, ie P-90 and Alnico V Staple. All the previous versions of this model seems to have a ridiculously large boat neck that is very different or at least A-typical of any vintage example that I have encountered. Any chance of doing a more period correct neck shape similar to what seems to have happened on the more recent R8-R0's and the 335 models?

Also, it sounds like you're at capacity with ES's at the moment, but I have a pretty stellar idea for a limited run that seems like it would potentially be a fan favorite and like nothing that's ever been done before. I could see it garnering the Chris Cornell model status, I was thinking potentially a 25 unit, or under 100 unit run. Would anything like that ever be open for discussion? My plan for this idea probably would fall outside of anything that would be doable in a M2M scenario at this time. I'd be happy to share the ideas with you in a DM (mysterious). Haha.
 

matkoehler

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Joined
Sep 12, 2014
Messages
394
hey Mat-

fantastic thread

can you give me a very brief rundown on the specific local of the mahogany used for historic backs over the years

example:
( and these just made up - you put in the correct locals )

early pre historics - Malaysian
1999 good wood era - brazilian
2003- 2007 mexican
2007-2008 honduran
2009 - to present Fuji
Sure thing. It's *all* Swietenia Macrophylla (big leaf mahogany). Most is from Fijian plantations, which began growing in 1911. Gibson USA uses mostly Swietenia Macrophylla grown in Central America. Thanks for the questions.
 

matkoehler

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Joined
Sep 12, 2014
Messages
394
Hey Mat, not sure if this thread is still going, but a couple of things:
Are there any plans to do an accurate Historic run of the V1 Les Paul Custom, ie P-90 and Alnico V Staple. All the previous versions of this model seems to have a ridiculously large boat neck that is very different or at least A-typical of any vintage example that I have encountered. Any chance of doing a more period correct neck shape similar to what seems to have happened on the more recent R8-R0's and the 335 models?

Also, it sounds like you're at capacity with ES's at the moment, but I have a pretty stellar idea for a limited run that seems like it would potentially be a fan favorite and like nothing that's ever been done before. I could see it garnering the Chris Cornell model status, I was thinking potentially a 25 unit, or under 100 unit run. Would anything like that ever be open for discussion? My plan for this idea probably would fall outside of anything that would be doable in a M2M scenario at this time. I'd be happy to share the ideas with you in a DM (mysterious). Haha.
We make it and offer it currently. But once again, seems to have disappeared from our website...heads will roll! Haha. But seriously I'm glad you brought that to my attention. It's a core model so contact any Gibson dealer and place an order. It will have the rounded .9-1.0 C-shape neck profile, same as the 1957 LPC and extremely comfortable...not huge by any means. Thanks for the note!

Oh and regarding your limited run idea...I bet it is a good one but respectfully we have all the ideas we can handle right now...and if it falls outside of what's possible in M2M, that would qualify it as "high complexity" which is usually something we would need to run in larger quantities to justify. Just a little peak behind the curtain for you! Haha.
 
Last edited:

matkoehler

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Sep 12, 2014
Messages
394
Is there any possibility of making the ES-137 Custom again?
Love that model. I think it is indeed a possibility but we haven't really hit our stride yet with the present ES range...going to let those have their time and then pursue other models like that. I'd love to bring them back. Thanks for the question!
 

matkoehler

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Joined
Sep 12, 2014
Messages
394
Hi Matt. Any chance of finding and revealing any info like production history from Kalamazoo? Seems to be a black hole in Gibson history. I have an extremely unusual '79 Explorer that I've tried to get info about. So little info available. When I contacted Gibson about it, the answer was pretty much "Oh that's Kalamazoo, can't tell you much of anything".
Great question. Honestly I wouldn't be surprised if we have this somewhere in our archives. But it is going to take a lot of digging. Meanwhile we have found a lot of info on Nashville production in that time, though it doesn't exactly help you. Myself and my fellow historian Jason will be vigilant and if we find that info, we will let you know here first!
 

Dr. Green

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Dec 12, 2018
Messages
683
Sure thing. It's *all* Swietenia Macrophylla (big leaf mahogany). Most is from Fijian plantations, which began growing in 1911. Gibson USA uses mostly Swietenia Macrophylla grown in Central America. Thanks for the questions.

if its all the same big leaf mahogany and it makes no difference where it comes from perhaps you can shed some light on this story from the The Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve in Honduras where you were getting old growth wood for the historics

https://www.terrain.org/articles/19/smartwood.htm
 

jb_abides

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Apr 6, 2005
Messages
4,023
We make it and offer it currently. But once again, seems to have disappeared from our website...heads will roll! Haha. But seriously I'm glad you brought that to my attention. It's a core model so contact any Gibson dealer and place an order. It will have the rounded .9-1.0 C-shape neck profile, same as the 1957 LPC and extremely comfortable...not huge by any means. Thanks for the note!

Oh and regarding your limited run idea...I bet it is a good one but respectfully we have all the ideas we can handle right now...and if it falls outside of what's possible in M2M, that would qualify it as "high complexity" which is usually something we would need to run in larger quantities to justify. Just a little peak behind the curtain for you! Haha.

What would the appropriate designation be for that to speak to a dealer? V1 LPC Black Beauty or ??? To dispel confusion over R4 LPC, etc.... thanks.
 

jb_abides

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Great question. Honestly I wouldn't be surprised if we have this somewhere in our archives. But it is going to take a lot of digging. Meanwhile we have found a lot of info on Nashville production in that time, though it doesn't exactly help you. Myself and my fellow historian Jason will be vigilant and if we find that info, we will let you know here first!

Also, for Nashville, have you been in contact with @Strings Jr. who has personal records and a on-going thread regarding production during the 80s, etc.?

This will probably garner lots of information in that regard, cheers. 🍑
 

J T

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Oct 20, 2005
Messages
10,281
I know this is the Historic/Custom shop Pub but I just read your response about the USA Firebird.

You know, I really like my Firebird and I know they are difficult to make, but I didn't know the white was also difficult to mix. Hey just wanted to let you know I get compliments from people when they see my Firebird. What a nice guitar. Thanks guys for making it. I guess I timed it right and grabbed it when this one was available.

gRD3Tsd.jpg
 

jb_abides

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4,023
I know this is the Historic/Custom shop Pub but I just read your response about the USA Firebird.

You know, I really like my Firebird and I know they are difficult to make, but I didn't know the white was also difficult to mix. Hey just wanted to let you know I get compliments from people when they see my Firebird. What a nice guitar. Thanks guys for making it. I guess I timed it right and grabbed it when this one was available.

I second this: I found Mat's comment quite interesting yet understandable ... also glad I got one in White, I almost went with the Burst but glad I got White. A real looker!
 

matkoehler

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if its all the same big leaf mahogany and it makes no difference where it comes from perhaps you can shed some light on this story from the The Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve in Honduras where you were getting old growth wood for the historics

https://www.terrain.org/articles/19/smartwood.htm
This is from 2005 and seems like a PR piece to me...not saying Gibson wasn't sourcing mahogany from Honduras -- they were -- but it was not in large quantities nor large sizes and mainly used for Gibson Acoustic Custom Shop pieces. I see no mention of "old growth" either...these days there really is no sustainable/available "old growth" mahogany unless it's recovered from the bottom of a lake or river. Hope that helps and thanks again for the question.
 

matkoehler

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Has Gibson ever hired a staff historian to curate the rich and mysterious history at Gibson?
Absolutely. Julius Bellson was the first Gibson historian (treasurer before that) and he worked with the company over 50 years before writing "The Gibson Story," a now rare and out of print book with his unique oral history of Gibson. Highly recommend finding a copy. The next Gibson historian was Walter Carter, who wrote the 100 Years of Gibson book and had an "Adventures in Archives" column about his many discoveries and observations. The 100 Years book is still one of my favorites and every time I read it I see and learn something new. LOTS of content in that book which doesn't get nearly enough attention...like the 'Modernistic' acoustic concept drawings from 1955. Thanks for the question!
 
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