Gibson Guitars Are Overpriced

How overpriced are Gibson guitars?

The retail price of a Les Paul back in 1958 was about $265. Adjusted for inflation, that same guitar should cost you about $2100 today. Of course, to get a new Gibson built just like a 1958 model, the Historic line, could set you back $10K or more. But let's just look at the Les Paul Standard model. They are routinely selling for about $3500 at various online retailers. That's roughly a $1400 gap between the current price and where prices should be.

And when your pay goes up, say, 2%-3%, if at all, Gibson is prone to just ramping up prices ten times more than your raise.

And, of course, the current build qualities of the current Gibson offerings are, in the eyes of many, to be far inferior to the stuff being produced in the 50s and early 60s. Let's not even get into the robot tuners, holograms, weight relief routing, zero nuts, and whatnot.

But aren't all American-made guitars overpriced? Compare Gibson with Fender.

A Fender Strat would have set you back about $230 in 1958 which translates into a couple grand today, more or less. But you can walk into any Fender dealer and buy an American Standard Strat for a retail price of about $1300, a gap of about $700. Say what you want about Fender, but they are not overpriced in historic terms.

And a brand new G&L Legacy can be had for for about $1100.

And the PRS S2 line of guitars are an absolute feast of quality and innovation at a really great price point compared to Gibson. The PRS Vela might be the best deal on an American-made guitar to come along in years.

Oh, you say, but you cannot compare a bolt-on Fender to a set-neck Gibson. Well, take your average Les Paul reissue models that routinely sell for $5000 to $7000 and compare it to the Artist grade PRS SC58 which is, for all intents and purposes, the equivalent to a 58 Gibson LP.

I doubt seriously if Gibson could even manufacture a guitar today that compares favorably with what PRS is building and an Artist grade PRS 58 went for about $3500, about half the price of a Gibson Historic. And it's not as if Maryland is a much better place to build guitars than Tennessee, they're neck and neck on the Forbes list state ranks for business. TN even has the edge when it comes to labor supply, lower wages, and fewer environmental regulations.

Why is Gibson gouging the hell out of customers? It's increasingly looking like an epic collapse of the guitar industry is immanent and Gibson is trying to squeeze as much money out of the Boomer doctors and lawyers as they can before this demographic cohort die-off hits critical mass.