[Gibson Les Paul in action. Photo: Gibson.com]
A rumor has been brewing regarding Gibson Guitars’ interest in following in the footsteps of Apple Computer and opening their own chain of retail stores. Unlike the Apple outlets, Gibson’s would not carry the company’s entire line of products, just the highly-coveted Les Paul and ES-335 models. (However, that could be more than enough to handle: the manufacturer’s online catalog lists 13 different types of currently available Les Pauls.) Orders for specially customized Gibson guitars—which average around the $6,000 mark—would be taken at these locations, as well.
Gibson has been amply criticized of late for charging what many feel is an exorbitant price for the majority of its product line—the median price is $1300; The Les Paul Standard retails for $1900, while the ES-335 has a $2200 sticker price—which has led some to speculate this is the company’s response to the high prices its vintage and not so vintage models fetch on the used market. (Regular, used Les Pauls sell online for $1400-$2000 on average; Gibson’s new guitars have seen a 60% price increase in the last 15 years.) With your average Gibson going for the price of a used car and Custom Shop models (the Jimmy Page, Peter Frampton, etc.) retailing for $5500, what once were musicians' tools are increasingly becoming toys for the wealthy.