In a gesture of good will Gibson has returned the Oberheim brand and trademark back to the company founder Tom Oberheim.
Gibson first acquired the name when Oberheim went bankrupt for the second time in 1988. It’s another one of those intellectual properites that Gibson seemed to do very little with and always makes you wonder what their plan was in the first place. Although it did result in the OB-Mx analogue synthesizer which was designed by Don Buchla, and the Echoplex Digital Pro. Later on they licensed the name to Italian organ makers Viscount who came up with the impressive OB-12 virtual analogue synthesizer.
Tom Oberheim returned to synthesizer building in 2009 and has been remaking some of his most classic designs. I had a conversation with him shortly after the 2017 NAMM show about the new Eurorack range and the SEM-X he was showing and at that time he was very enthusiastic about the future development and his move into Eurorack. The year before he had teamed up with Dave Smith of Sequential to produce the OB-6. Everything was looking pretty great. But then nothing seemed to move forward. The website seemed to lose the Eurorack line of products and two NAMM shows past without any news. Meanwhile interest in classic Oberheim products continued to grow with a number of possible clones or reimagings of the OB-Xa on the cards. Of course Behringer seems to be the one company that might actually bring something to production.
Currently Toms website has been reduced down to a picture of him and the OB-6. Tom is in his 80’s now and it’s going to be really interesting to see what develops from the return of his name. Gibson seemed to be in the news for all the wrong reasons recently and it’s great to see them do something so magnamamous.
From the press release:
“Of the many stories I have heard and decisions I have made since joining Gibson, this situation seemed simple,” says James ‘JC’ Curleigh, President and CEO of Gibson. “Let’s do the right thing by putting the Oberheim brand back in the hands of its’ namesake founder Tom Oberheim.”
The team have been working on this solution for the past few months, and recently, JCand Tom had a discussion to ‘seal the deal’.
“After over thirty years of being without it, I am thrilled to once again be able to use the Oberheim trademark for my products,” said Tom Oberheim. “I am very grateful to the new leadership team of Gibson for making this possible.”