Gibson is without a doubt one of the most, if not the most, recognizable guitar brands in music. Gibson guitars are known for their superior playability and world-class craftsmanship, with qualities that have influenced guitar manufacturers for over half a century.
Needless to say, Gibson guitars are iconic. Most people—even those who don’t play guitar—will know a Gibson when they see one, with notable signature models including the Les Paul, SG, and ES-335.
Gibson is an American company through and through. And part of the reason why Gibson guitars are considered premium, high-end instruments is the fact that all Gibson guitars are manufactured in the USA – and ever since the company was founded more than a century ago.
The same cannot be said for many other big players in the guitar industry, and this is why Gibson guitars have such high appeal among guitarists.
Still, Gibson guitars are not all made in the same location in the USA. In fact, where its electric and acoustic range is concerned, the longer answer is that Gibson manufactures its guitars in separate locations.
Where are Gibson Guitars Made in the USA?
All authentic Guitar guitars are made in America. Gibson was founded in the USA and has never manufactured its guitars in any other country.
There are, in fact, three locations where Gibson has manufactured its guitar range since the company was founded. These include Nashville, Bozeman, and Memphis.
Gibson ceased production in Memphis (Gibson Guitar Factory) in 2019, however, so currently all Gibson guitars are made in Nashville, Tennessee and Bozeman, Montana.
Gibson’s larger guitar factory is in Nashville, which is also Gibson’s main HQ. Both Gibson factories in Nashville and Bozeman have guitar showrooms, tour experiences, and custom guitar shops.
It goes without saying that these locations are far apart – on opposite sides of the country, in fact. And the reason for this is that Gibson separates the production of its electric guitars and acoustic guitars between the two locations.
Where are Gibson Electric Guitars Made?
Gibson’s electric guitar range is manufactured in Nashville, Tennessee. Gibson is arguably more famous for its electric guitars than its acoustics, so its Nashville headquarters is also where Gibson’s flagship electric guitar factory is based, known as Gibson USA.
This is where the handmade production of Gibson’s most iconic electric guitar models takes place, including the Gibson Les Paul, Gibson SG, and Gibson ES-335.
However, this hasn’t always been the case, as when Gibson USA was first built in 1974, it was used exclusively for the production of Les Pauls.
On top of that, Gibson ES-335 guitars—along with Gibson’s other semi-hollow and hollow body models—were not manufactured at Gibson USA until 2019 (before which they were made in Gibson’s Memphis factory, “Gibson Guitar Factory”, now closed).
Now, Gibson USA is the heart of Gibson’s electric guitar lineup – where Gibson electric guitars are designed and built.
Where are Gibson Acoustic Guitars Made?
Gibson’s acoustic guitar range is made in Bozeman, Montana. Similar to how Gibson USA, in Nashville, is the base for manufacturing all of its electric guitars, Gibson Montana—sometimes called Gibson Acoustic HQ—is the flagship factory where all its acoustic guitars are made.
Gibson sells more electric guitars than acoustic guitars overall (and is better known for its electric guitars) which is why Gibson Montana is the smaller factory of the two.
Still, Gibson acoustic guitars are far from low-end, receiving the same level of craftsmanship that goes into its electric guitars.
All Gibson acoustic collections—including Gibson Original, Gibson Modern, Artist, Generation, and Exclusives—are manufactured in Bozeman. This has been the case ever since 1989, when Gibson Montana first opened as a factory.
Are Gibson Guitars Good?
Gibson guitars are considered good due to how they are all made in the USA. This isn’t the only reason, however, as Gibson guitars are widely considered to be superior among guitarists, boasting premium parts and materials, expert craftsmanship, and superb build quality.
For the most part, Gibson guitars are handmade, which is especially true for Gibson Custom Shop guitars. Another reason Gibson guitars are considered high-end is due to innovation and tradition, having influenced other guitar manufacturers ever since the company was first founded.
In addition to being good, Gibson guitars have an iconic reputation. Signature models such as the Les Paul and SG are easily recognizable and highly sought-after, used and admired by everyone from casual guitarists to world-famous artists.
Overall, most guitarists know what they are getting when buying a Gibson: a well-made, top-of-the-range instrument that performs well, sounds great, and feels good to hold, with a long life expectancy.
As a result, Gibson guitars, despite being on the pricier side, are considered lifelong investments. Gibson guitars are often seen as collector’s items, in addition to being among the best guitars in production.
Does Gibson Make Amps?
Gibson, despite being a world leader in electric guitars, bass guitars, acoustic guitars, and guitar parts, does not make amplifiers. This hasn’t always been the case, however, as Gibson manufactured guitar amps for just over three decades from 1935 to 1967.
The reason why Gibson ceased production of its amplifiers is not widely known. It is generally assumed that Gibson, at the time, simply decided to focus its efforts on manufacturing guitars of the highest quality.
And considering the reputation Gibson has built for itself, the decision arguably paid off.
Despite that, Gibson recently acquired Mesa/Boogie – the California-based manufacturer known for its high-gain boutique amplifiers, used by the likes of Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, Mick Jones, Alex Lifeson, Gary Numan, Jerry Garcia, and more.
Gibson’s acquisition of Mesa Boogie does not mean future amplifiers will be made under the Gibson name, however. Gibson is ultimately a guitar manufacturer first and foremost, best known for its high-end electric guitars and bass guitars.
When Was Gibson Founded?
Gibson, also known as Gibson brands (formerly Gibson Guitar Corporation), was founded in 1902 by Orville Gibson. Orville Gibson started making guitars, specifically mandolins, in 1894, before establishing Gibson—the company as it is known today—eight years later.
When Gibson first began, it was called Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co. Ltd, based in Michigan. Orville Gibson is the well-known inventor of the first-ever archtop guitar, which, alongside flattop guitars, became Gibson’s main guitar lines up until the 1930s.
It wasn’t until the 1950s that Gibson started making solid-body electric guitars, which came about with the Gibson Les Paul – Gibson’s most popular guitar to date. The Les Paul was designed by Ted McCarty, taking influence from a guitar prototype made by Lester William Polsfuss.
Fast forward to today, Gibson is a world leader in the manufacture of electric guitars and acoustic guitars, as well as bass guitars, guitar amplifiers, guitar parts, and accessories.
Gibsons are high-end guitars, sought-after for their reputation and craftsmanship, often considered the best guitars ever made and in current production.
Who Uses Gibson Guitars?
Gibson guitars have a cult-like following and for good reason. Gibsons are the chosen instruments of professional guitarists, touring artists, and world-famous musicians – many of which use Gibson guitars exclusively.
While not targeted at beginner guitarists (mainly due to the high-end prices), most would be hard-pressed to find any guitarist who doesn’t want to own and play a Gibson. This is especially true for Gibson’s electric guitars, signature models including the Les Paul, SG, ES-335, Explorer, and Flying V.
Due to the iconic designs, craftsmanship, build quality, sound, and more, Gibsons has been the go-to choice for famous guitarists spanning generations.
Notable Gibson guitar users include Angus Young, Slash, B.B. King, Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Billy Gibbons, James Hetfield, Dave Grohl, Noel Gallagher, Billie Joe Armstrong, and many, many more.
Ultimately, anyone who is serious about guitars owns, or wants to own, a Gibson. The main factor is the cost of Gibson guitars which, due to their quality, reputation, and craftsmanship, falls at the top end of the price spectrum.
How Much are Gibsons?
It doesn’t have to be said that Gibsons are not the most affordable guitars out there. Despite that, the price of Gibson guitars is generally accepted, for more reasons than one, all stemming from the TLC that Gibson puts into making each guitar.
As is the case for most guitars, Gibson electric guitars are more expensive than Gibson acoustic guitars. And, in general, you can expect to spend at least $1000 for an authentic Gibson electric guitar – as much as $4000 at the opposite end.
As for Gibson acoustics, these are generally priced upwards of $1000.
Of course, Custom Gibsons, Artist Gibsons, and other limited edition or collector Gibson guitars can cost any high amount. On the other hand, Gibson guitars can be bought secondhand or at auctions for prices lower than the general RRP.
It’s worth mentioning here that any new Gibson going for a very low price is most likely fake. To avoid this, it’s always recommended to buy Gibson guitars from recognized guitar dealers, guitar stores, and trusted sellers.
Gibson vs Epiphone
If you are a guitarist, you’ll know about Epiphone as much as Gibson. Epiphone manufactures budget-friendly Gibson lookalike guitars that, unlike “Gibson copies”, are considered just as good as Gibsons—or as close as it gets to playing a Gibson—due to Gibson owning Epiphone.
Epiphone was, in fact, established long before Gibson in 1873. Gibson acquired Epiphone in 1957, around the same time the Gibson Les Paul put Gibson on the map.
Now, Epiphone is considered a subsidiary brand of Gibson, dedicated to making affordable versions of Gibson’s most popular guitars, alongside a small lineup of original Epiphone guitars.
As a result, Epiphone guitars can be bought for around half the price of most Gibsons. Epiphone electric guitars, in particular, offer identical designs to the Gibson Les Paul, SG, ES-335, and more, but with lower quality materials and parts to cater to a wider price market.
Epiphone guitars are therefore ideal for guitarists on a budget, beginner/casual guitarists, and guitarists who can’t, or don’t want to, fork out the money for an authentic Gibson guitar. Still, despite the inexpensive prices, Epiphone guitars are far from being substandard.
Where are Epiphone Guitars Made?
Gibson owns Epiphone, but that does mean that Epiphone guitars are made at Gibson’s guitar factories in Nashville and Bozeman. In fact, Epiphone guitars are manufactured in a different country altogether.
The large majority of Epiphone guitars are made in China, in the city of Qingdao. Despite that, Epiphone’s headquarters are still based in the USA – specifically Nashville, Tennessee, not far from Gibson USA, where Gibson makes its electric guitar range.
Epiphone guitars made in China include Epiphone electric guitars and Epiphone acoustic guitars – both Gibson-inspired guitars and Epiphone’s original guitars. Epiphone guitars have been made in Qingdao since 2004, where it is also possible to take a tour.
For the most part, the difference between the manufacturing of China-made Epiphone guitars and USA-made Gibson guitars is more similar than dissimilar. On the whole, Epiphone guitars feature cheaper parts and materials, which allows them to be priced lower than Gibsons.
Gibson vs Fender
We can’t talk about Gibson without mentioning Fender: another big player in the guitar and music industry. Like Gibson, Fender makes highly recognized, well-made electric guitars, acoustic guitars, and bass guitars, alongside amplifiers, guitar pedals, parts, and accessories.
Similar to Gibson, Fender is also an American company, founded in 1946 in California by Leo Fender, where its HQ remains to this day.
Among guitarists, there is an endless debate as to which guitar manufacturer is better. Both Gibson and Fender have their strong points, of course, with the main differences being the guitar lines, price ranges, and where the guitars are made.
Fender guitars, for one, are just as iconic in status as Gibson guitars. Like the Gibson Les Paul and Gibson SG, the Fender Stratocaster and Fender Telecaster are flagship, recognizable electric guitar models that experienced guitarists and world-famous musicians swear by.
Looking to uncover the differences between the Fender Mexican and American Stratocaster guitars?
Other popular Fenders include the Jazzmaster, Jaguar, Mustang, and Esquire.
What sets Fender apart from Gibson, however, is that its guitars are more accessible to a wider market due to the lower price range. Fender guitars are generally more affordable, priced from as low as $800 brand new.
Where are Fender Guitars Made?
Fender guitars, unlike Gibsons, are made in different countries, which is another factor as to why Fender guitars cost less than Gibsons. Fender manufactures guitars in Los Angeles—where its headquarters is based—but also manufactures guitars in Mexico, Japan, Indonesia, and China.
Some Fender guitars used to be made in Korea, however Korean production of Fender guitars ceased in 2002 and 2003 – a decision made for financial reasons.
Similar to how Gibson guitars are highly sought-after due to exclusively being made in the USA, USA-made Fender guitars are considered Fender’s best and most sought-after range of guitars.
This is due to craftsmanship, quality control, and more, with USA-made Fenders often considered “original” or “real” Fenders.
As a result, USA-made Fender guitars are typically priced higher than Fenders made in Mexico, Japan, Indonesia, and China.
Where are Squier Guitars Made?
Like Gibson Epiphone, Fender Squier is Fender’s subsidiary musical instrument company that offers budget-friendly versions of flagship Fender guitars, catering to a wider market that includes beginner guitarists.
Aside from electric guitars and acoustic guitars, Squier also makes bass guitars, guitar amplifiers, and guitar accessories offered at inexpensive prices.
As for where Fender manufactures its Squier range, countries include the USA, Japan, Mexico, India, and Indonesia.
Unlike USA-made Fenders, however, USA-made Squier guitars are not considered superior in any way. Squier guitars are known for being cheaper, low-end instruments targeted at beginners, so where they are made is typically not considered important.
The Fender Squier electric guitar range, which includes Squier Stratocasters, Squier Telecasters, Squier Jazzmasters, Squier Jaguars, and Squier Mustangs, is priced lower due to cheaper materials, parts, and overall build quality.
Where are Ibanez Guitars Made?
Ibanez, alongside Gibson and Fender, is among the most popular guitar manufacturers in the world, known for their “slick” necks that have made Ibanez the firm choice of rock guitarists who love to play fast – Steve Vai included.
Ibanez is a Japanese company, founded in 1957, which manufactures its guitars in Japan, Korea, China, and Indonesia. International production did not come into effect until the ‘80s, however, before which Ibanez guitars were exclusively made in Japan.
Ibanez guitars are cheaper than Gibson guitars, with around the same price range as Fenders, making them accessible to a wide market from beginner guitarists to touring musicians and artists.
Famous users of Ibanez guitars include Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, James “Munky” Shaffer, Eddie Van Halen, Wes Borland, Paul Gray, Dexter Holland, Herman Li, Fredrik Thordendal, Mårten Hagström, and more.
Does It Matter Where a Guitar is Made?
There has been much debate surrounding whether it matters where a guitar is manufactured. While there are factors that can indicate that a guitar is higher in quality due to where it was made, favoring one location over another is also largely a matter of personal preference.
In general, guitars made in America (USA) are considered to be the best in quality, which is mainly due to the USA-made guitars sold by Gibson, Fender, and PRS.
These manufacturers are known for using superior materials and parts in their guitars—mostly handmade with unrivaled craftsmanship—to deliver the best overall tone and performance.
Gibson, one of the most prestigious guitar manufacturers in the world, makes all its guitars in the US. Fender, Gibson’s biggest competitor, makes guitars in various countries, but produces its high-end guitar lineup in America.
PRS guitars are made in the USA, Korea, and Indonesia, with its premium range similarly manufactured in the US.
So, not all guitars made in the USA are necessarily better, but most of the best guitars that money can buy are made in the USA.
Guitars that are manufactured outside of America, on the other hand, are generally associated with mass production, lower quality control processes, cheaper labor, and poorer quality materials, which are the reasons these guitars cost less.
All Gibson guitars, including Gibson electric guitars, acoustic guitars, and bass guitars, are manufactured in the USA. Gibson has two flagship factories: Nashville (Gibson USA), where Gibson makes its electric guitars, and Bozeman (Gibson Montana), where Gibson makes its acoustic guitars.
Gibson used to make guitars in Memphis, Tennessee at a third factory (Gibson Guitar Factory, but moved all Memphis production to Nashville in 2019.
Gibson guitars—notable models including the Les Paul, SG, and ES-335—are known for their high quality, superior playability, and distinct tone, which is part of the reason why USA-made guitars are considered to be the best in the world.
As for Epiphone, the guitar company owned by Gibson that manufactures budget-friendly Gibson “lookalikes” with cheaper parts, Epiphone is based in Nashville, Tennessee, near Gibson USA, but makes the majority of its guitars in Qingdao, China.