The Gibson brand began when mandolin maker Orville Gibson started making instruments in his hometown in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Orville disliked the bowl-backed mandolins common at the time and introduced his own design featuring single-piece sides and neck. The Gibson mandolin was not only less expensive to produce, it also sounded better than previous designs.
The Gibson brand was an innovator in guitar design throughout the 1920s, specializing in arch top acoustic guitars. They introduced their first electric guitar, the Electric Spanish model or ES-150 in 1936. Adopted by jazz virtuoso Charlie Christian, the ES-150 is still known as the Charlie Christian model and its distinctive pickup is still considered to be one of the best jazz pickups ever made.
Gibson pioneered the humbucker pickup
, a dual coil-version that eliminated or "bucked" the hum generated by single-coil guitar pickups of the time. 3-pickup ES-5, and the ES-175 guitars were both groundbreaking electric guitars. The company's first solid-body electric guitar featured a carved gold top. The most popular guitarist of the day, Les Paul, endorsed it in 1952 and the newly renamed Les Paul electric guitar
went on to become one of the most popular guitars of all time.
Designs for the Flying V, Explorer, and Moderne electric guitars proved to be decades ahead of their time. Gibson pushed on into the 1960s with the modern solid-body double-cutaway SG of '61 and the reverse-body Firebird electric guitars of '63.
Gibson are well known for their fine acoustic guitars. Popular acoustic and acoustic-electric guitars that you can still find today include the Dove, the SJ-200, the J-160E made famous by John Lennon, the Songwriter, the J-45, the Blues King, and the Hummingbird. The company's high quality standards are reflected in their line of bass guitars as well. SG, Les Paul, and Thunderbird basses are favorites of players around the world.