How to Buy a Gibson Electric Guitar

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How to Buy a Gibson Electric Guitar

The Gibson guitar is one of the most iconic guitar models in the world and its electric guitars have been one of the most popular choices of guitar for musicians from the 1930s onwards. It is most often seen as a rock guitar, being popularised by some of the greatest rock n roll bands of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and beyond, but its versatility as an instrument makes it ideal for many different styles of music.

The Gibson Guitar Legacy

From a small guitar manufacturer setting up business in Michigan, USA in 1902, the Gibson Guitar Corporation has become one of the biggest in the world and its style of instrument is universally recognisable. It produced its first solid-body electric model in the early 1950s and in 1952 the manufacture of the Gibson Les Paul began, its most popular electric guitar.

Types of Gibson Electric Guitar



Gibson Les Paul Standard

Maple wood top and mahogany back, rosewood 22-fret fingerboard, asymmetrical neck design for ergonomic hand placement (2008 model onwards), single cutaway at the body, neck and bridge Bustbucker Pro pickups, chrome-plated Tailpiece and Tuners. Also comes in Classic, Custom and Junior models

Gibson SG

Solid mahogany body, slim 1960s-style neck with rosewood fingerboard and 22 frets with trapezoid inlays, twin 57 Classic Humbucker pickups and small, vintage-style head with Gibson logo inlaid

Gibson Explorer

Solid mahogany body, asymmetrical body shape and angled headstock, Explorer neck, 22-fret fingerboard made from grenadillo wood with dot inlays and 496R and 500T ceramic Humbucker pickups

Gibson Flying V

Solid mahogany body, distinctive V shape and pointed headstock, fingerboard of grenadillo wood with 22 frets and dot inlays, 496R and 500T Humbucker ceramic pickups, Explorer hybrid neck and a single tone switch

Gibson Firebird

Solid mahogany body with reverse longer lower horn, double cutaways, trough-body maple neck with 1970s thin-to-thick profile or hybrid 50s/60s neck, dual blade alnico Mini Humbuckers

The Gibson Les Paul Standard

The Gibson Les Paul Standard is the classic and most popular of the Gibson guitars, and the features which the manufacturers included in the design between 1952 and 1960 and generally agreed upon as being the most desirable. These features are nearly always reproduced in Standard models today and include the single cutaway, dual pickups, a solid body of mahogany with a maple top and a rosewood fingerboard with 22 frets. Customers can also choose a ‘self-tuning’ guitar which, using technology developed by a company called Tronical GmbH, can tune itself in around two seconds. This technology is supplied on some Standard, SG and Flying V models.

The Gibson SG

The Gibson SG electric guitar first appeared on the market in 1968. As radical as it looks today with its traditional cherry-red mahogany body, black scratch-plate and sharply-pointed double cutaways, it must have seemed even more so all those years ago. Despite sharing a manufacturer and sporting similar electronics in the form of two humbucker pickups, the SG is a different sounding guitar than the Les Paul Standard. Part of this is down to design; the SG is made of solid mahogany without the maple top, which changes the tone slightly, making it sound a little more aggressive and resonant. The SG has become popular with heavier players, featuring regularly in the hands of heavy metal guitarists, and has been a staple guitar in most of the huge rock and metal bands since its introduction in 1968. Unlike the Les Paul Standard, the SG has never been out of production since its first release.

The Gibson Explorer

Gibson released the Explorer in 1976 as a response to the demand for a dedicated heavy metal guitar that expanded upon the Gibson sound and style. The 496R and 500T twin ceramic Humbuckers produce powerful sustain and tone combined with the crunch perfect for hard rock and heavy metal playing. These pickups are one of Gibson’s most powerful combinations for creating heavy music which nonetheless retains the clarity of sound for which Gibson is famous. The Explorer neck combined the two standard Gibson necks – the 1950s fat, round neck and the 1960s slim, tapered neck – in a hybrid which gives both strength and playability.

The Gibson Flying V

Surprisingly, the Gibson Flying V pre-dates the SG, first appearing in 1958, although it wasn’t until its reintroduction in 1967 that it was embraced by guitar players worldwide. Its iconic shape and headstock make it one of the most recognisable guitars and, combined with its powerful sound, its appeal is undeniable. Like all Gibson guitars, the headstock is made from the same piece of wood as the neck, adding strength to the whole and ensuring the strings retain tension. The neck, like that of the Explorer, is a hybrid of the 50s and 60s style necks with a round contour but a slim tapered shape. By incorporating just one tone switch into the Flying V, Gibson ensured that there is less resistance between the pickup and the output, making the Flying V a powerhouse rock n roll guitar.

The Gibson Firebird

The Gibson Firebird appeared in 1963, a softened and more flowing version of the Explorer but with a longer horn from the lower cutaway giving it a very unique appearance. It was the first Gibson guitar to feature the neck-through-body design and comes with a reverse headstock and banjo-style tuners to add to its unique visual appeal. Originally built with a single pickup, the Firebird was quickly modified to allow for twin Humbuckers. Depending on which model Firebird customers purchase, the necks can be either the classic 1970s style thin-to-thick neck which widens towards the body, or a hybrid neck like that found on the Explorer and Flying V.

Customisation Options for Gibson Electric Guitars

All guitars can be customised to individual requirements to a greater or lesser degree. Options include the colour of the guitar’s body - for the Gibson Les Paul this includes Heritage Cherry Sunburst, Honey Burst, Desert Burst, Ice Tea, Light Burst, Goldtop, Ebony, Wine Red and Chicago Blue. There are traditionally two neck options for the Les Paul Standard and the SG; the rounder, fatter neck reminiscent of that found on the 1958 model, and a slimmer neck more commonly associated with the Classic model and the guitars made in the 1960s. Buyers can choose which neck most suits their style of playing, with the slimmer neck being associated with a faster, looser style. For the Explorer and the Flying V, guitar necks are usually a hybrid of these two styles, incorporating the rounded contour of the 1950s style with the slim tapered effect of the 1960s models. Gibson Firebirds can have either the hybrid neck or the 1970s thin-to-thick neck unique to this model. Serious players can customise pickups should they so choose. Classic wound Humbucker or Bustbucker Pro pickups give the traditional warm, low-end tone associated with both Gibson and classic rock music. Louder pickups such as the Gibson 496R and 500T are made from ceramic and give playing a more aggressive tone and sound. Customers should take pickups into account when buying or customising a Gibson electric guitar. Scratch-plates are also interchangeable and simply changing the colour of the scratch-plate can alter the guitar’s appearance significantly. Smaller items such as guitar straps and pickups can also change a guitar’s look and sound.

Gibson Bass Guitars

Gibson also provides a range of bass guitars from the EB3 to the SG, Triumph and Thunderbird bass. Built to the same exacting standards and their six-string brethren, Gibson’s bass guitars are a popular choice for amateur and professional musicians.These can be customised in much the same ways as other Gibson electric guitars.

Caring for a Gibson Electric Guitar

Looking after an electric guitar is an important part of owning one. Some musicians may abuse, smash and set fire to their guitars on stage, but afterwards, guitar technicians will repair, clean, and care for those same guitars.Guitar polish is an important accessory for any musician and should be applied in strict adherence to the instructions on the label. Guitar strings should also be looked after and replaced regularly to ensure the instrument gives the best performance at all times. Always choose Gibson strings to ensure the highest quality for any Gibson electric guitar.

Buy a Gibson Electric Guitar on eBay

Many models and types of Gibson electric guitar, including bass guitars, can be bought on eBay. Head to the homepage and then select Musical Instruments from the All Categories drop down list. On the left hand side of the page, select Guitars from the list and then filter the search by Electric and then Brand. Or simply type in a more specific search into the top search bar, for instance Gibson SG Bass or Gibson Les Paul Standard Goldtop. Any matches will then be displayed. Accessories such as strings, cleaner, replacement scratch-plates, leads and amplifiers can all be searched for in the same way.


A Gibson electric guitar is an investment that, with the proper care and maintenance, will give guitarists many years of playing pleasure with one of the most iconic and well-respected guitar manufacturers in the world.

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