We at Gearnews wrote about the new Gibson 2017 range in September of last year, as a few US retailers leaked the whole lot online months in advance. However, it appears they are also launching a new budget ‘Built in America’ line-up called the S Range as well. And this will be offered at a very interesting price point…
The Gibson S Series is a whole new range of guitars all made in the US, but at a considerably lower price point than ever before. They average $399-$899 each, which is practically half of the cost of any previously released guitars by the company. The series includes the following models: Les Paul, M2, SG and a Firebird Zero.
But how are they managing to offer these new guitars at such low prices?
Let’s take a look at the finishes: The SG Fusion is available in two colours, while the Firebird (with a non-reversed body) will be released in 11 colours, the M2 in six bright shades, the Les Paul Custom Studio in seven oil finishes and the Les Paul Custom Special in eight. The S-Series guitars are all offered with nitro finishes. The alternative would be to use cheaper polyester finishing, which is easier to apply so faster to turn around. So not much saving going on there.
GIbson might have ordered them produced abroad (in Mexico or the Far East) to save on labour costs. However, Gibson say the S Range will be produced in the US, to they have decided not to go down that route.
Woods and Specifications
In terms of woods, however, the Firebird and the M2 are using poplar for the main body and one of the Les Pauls comes with an ash body, so possibly this is one area where Gibson can keep the costs down. Wraparound bridges and simple control layouts for the guitars will help cut costs. And let’s be honest: some of Gibson’s most revered 1950s tone monster guitars were made just like that. A late ’50s Gibson LP Junior, for example, is one of the most versatile guitars ever made and is as simple as can be. So there is no reason to dismiss a simple instrument with basic hardware out of hand.
That might not be enough to explain these very low prices, though. Somewhere in the manufacturing process, I suspect, Gibson is managing to cut a lot of costs. I look forward to hearing what they have to say about the new S Series and also trying some out when they appear in guitar stores later this year.
A Path to success?
The colours are all quite bright and contemporary, so I think if Gibson gets this right, then they will be very popular with many players. This release is definitely one to watch out for at NAMM this year and I am really looking forward to seeing some video reviews and hearing some audio demos of the range over the next few weeks.
I’m all for a cheaper guitar and it is I believe a big deal for such a respected American guitar builder to do this, as it says a lot about the current guitar markets worldwide. There’s evidently more pressure these days in the market for a lower priced offering.
I heard rumours last year that Gibson may well have some exclusive guitars only sold via Amazon but at a lower price point, that and there might possibly be some collaboration sometime in 2017, with exclusive models available only through the online retailer. We will have to see if any information is released in the future, perhaps at NAMM later this week, that might confirm the truth or otherwise of these rumours.
Check out full details on the new Gibson S-Series range