History of Gibson Acoustic Guitar & Series Review

Gibson Acoustic Guitar has a reputation for making some of the best acoustic guitars available, a reputation that has been intact since the company’s beginnings as a crafter of mandolins in Kalamazoo, MI during the last decade of the 19th century. Orville Gibson’s invention of the archtop guitar (using the same type of top used on violins) cemented the company’s reputation as a quality craftsman. By the 1930’s the company was not only making flattop acoustic guitars, but some of the first hollow-body electric guitars ever made available to the public.

Gibson’s popularity as a maker of great acoustic guitars was at a high during the pre-war era (1930’s) when guitar playing was a popular entertainment. Due to a lack of supplies, production basically stopped during WWII and the company was bought out by Chicago Musical Instruments in 1944. Over the next few decades the reputation of the company went into a bit of a decline though their reputation made a comeback after their introduction of the “Les Paul” electric guitar in 1968.

However, after the company was moved to Nashville, TN in 1974, the quality of the guitars themselves began to decline due to a number of reasons, and the company was on the verge of folding altogether when it was bought by Henry E. Juszkiewicz, David H. Berryman, and Gary A. Zebrowski in January of 1986. To this day the company is still privately owned, and the return of their attention to quality craftsmanship has helped to rebuild the company to its original standing as a producer of high quality guitars.

One of the new management’s strategies was to re-introduce some of the best loved Gibson acoustic guitar models from the 1930’s and 1940’s; some reproduced to the originals exact specifications, while others have been designed with a more modern approach to produce high quality instruments. But each is crafted to Gibson acoustic guitar standards of quality craftsmanship.

Gibson Acoustic Guitar Series Roll Call

Vintage Series

Gibson Acoustic Guitar Vintage Series are precise replicas of some of the favorite Gibson guitars of days gone by. Made with solid tops of either Adirondack red spruce or Sitka spruce, the Vintage Series guitars have bodies made from either Honduran Mahogany or Curly Maple which gives them a full-bodied sound that is further enhanced by the big bodies (either dreadnought, Jumbo or Super Jumbo) of this Vintage Series. While the sound and projection of these guitars is incredible, their reliability of sound and playability depends a great deal on the construction methods used; some of which, while being true to original construction methods of the 1930’s, do not make for the best quality tone in comparison to more modern models. If you are looking for tonal accuracy or accurate visual reproduction however, you can’t get any better than the Gibson Acoustic Guitar Vintage Series. This is hardly surprising given Gibson’s reputation for providing some of the best acoustic guitars available.

Songwriter Series

The Gibson Songwriter Series guitars were created with the working musician in mind. Each of these great acoustic guitars is built on a square shouldered dreadnought body and crafted with a solid Sitka spruce top and rosewood sides and back. This combination gives them a solid, well-rounded tone and a clear projection that enhances each note individually, making these models a great choice for professional musicians who are working in a studio or recording setting, or even for those guitarists who prefer clarity of tone and solidity of craftsmanship to aesthetic extras. Available in regular or cutout models, the Gibson Acoustic Guitar Songwriter Series may present a rather plain appearance, but they have it where it counts.

L Series

The Gibson Acoustic Guitar L Series are flat top guitars each of which is built on the Gibson L-00 small body, making them easier to handle than their dreadnought and jumbo counterparts. A perfect choice for younger or more slightly built guitarists, the L Series guitars’ small (but shapely) bodies make them comfortable to hold and play. All the L Series are all crafted with solid Sitka spruce tops, though their bodies are made from different types of tone woods and each one is made to Gibson’s exacting specifications.

J200 Series

The Gibson J200 Series guitars are some of the best acoustic guitars Gibson has to offer. Built on Super Jumbo bodies, the J200’s have a deep, powerful tone and fantastic projection, making them an excellent choice for performing musicians. In fact the J200 series has been the guitar of choice for performers ranging from Roy Rogers to Ray Whitley and Gram Parsons. While each of the Gibson J200’s has a solid Sitka spruce top, the bodies are made from different tone woods giving each guitar in the series its own unique tonal quality.

J185 Series

The Gibson J185 Series acoustic guitars were created in response to the sheer size of the J200’s; which, while powerful of sound could be a bit difficult to manage for many players. The J185’s are Jumbos (though not Super Jumbos) and while each has a solid Sitka spruce top, the sides and bodies of the various models are made of different tone woods, creating unique and individual sounds for each. Still big guitars, the J185’s depth of body can still be a bit much for younger or more slightly built players, but the curviness of their shapes helps to dispel the bigness.

J45 Series

The Gibson J45 Series features the Gibson True Vintage Acoustic guitar. Known as “The Workhorse” since its introduction in 1942, the J45 is built on a dreadnought body, though it has rounded shoulders instead of the more traditional square shoulders, making it easier to handle than its larger counterparts. With a solid Adirondack Red spruce top and a Honduran Mahogany body, the J45 maintains the fullness of the signature dreadnought sound while proucing a rounded and balanced tone. Crafted to be an exact replica of the original model, the J45 even uses the bracing that was used in the 1942 model, making this guitar a bit heavier than you might expect, but worth the weight if you want a dreadnought that is easier to handle.

Gibson Acoustic Guitar Reviews

Gibson Acoustic Guitar operates out of Nashville, Tennessee and encompasses several brands like Epiphone, Steinberger and Kalamazoo, to name a few. Privately owned, Gibson is extremely well-known for high quality guitars like the Songwriter and the J160E. The average price range is around $1800, so these are pretty much professional instruments for serious artists. If you look around some, you can find lightly used Gibson acoustics for around $500. Dedicated artists include Duane Allman, Chet Atkins and Jeff Beck.

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