The new CEO of Gibson, Cesar Gueikian, commented on Metallica’s decision to use digital modeling amps for live shows. Gueikian, who replaced the company’s previous leader, James Curleigh, earlier this year, touched upon this while appearing in a recent episode of Dean Delray’s podcast.
What’s important to note is that Gibson is now the owner of the Mesa Boogie brand. So, as the company’s CEO, Gueikian does have an interest in discussing guitar amps as well, especially if a huge band like Metallica decides to go with the digital stuff.
When Delray recalled talking to Kirk Hammett about how he and James Hetfield started using Fractal Audio’s Axe-Fx units due to better consistency over tube-driven amps, Cesar replied (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):
“I think it depends on the level of touring as well. For a band like Metallica, it just makes sense, if you think about the different rooms they play in — whether it’s a stadium or a big arena — and being able to have that consistency of sound beyond the logistical part of it and potentially damaging it.”
Then there’s also the issue of space, which Cesar addressed:
“There’s a space constraint, and then there’s a room element for the sound that they want to deliver to have that consistency.”
As he also adds, Metallica profiles all of the real amps and use that within the Axe-Fx units, giving them a tone that fans are expecting to hear. And, of course, this also includes Mesa Boogie amps that Metallica are somewhat known for, especially with their tones for the “Master of Puppets” album. Cesar continued:
“So when you look at it — if you’ve been to Metallica HQ, when you look at what they have in the room, and how they’re profiling it all — it all is ultimately coming from the real amplifiers.”
“I welcome that because they are making the sound available, and there’s all these people out there listening to the Metallica sound and wanting to find out where did it come from, so they end up finding their way back to Mesa Boogie.”
These days, he’s definitely no stranger to the digital stuff. And Cesar has tried different stuff and seems to be perfectly fine with it:
“So it’s a beneficial thing that we have these digital modules where you can profile, and it’s so easy to profile. It’s so intuitive now, especially with the ones that I’ve used now, IK [Multimedia, creators of AmpliTube and Tonex] and Neural [DSP, creators of Quad Cortex] — it is just so easy to use, it’s basically like a touchpad, right? It’s a touchscreen. And so it’s just making it available.”
In fact, the company is even collaborating with these digital-oriented brands, giving them a way to have more convincing replicas of Mesa Boogie amps:
“We work with them, and they are our partners, so when you’re using those platforms, you’re downloading the Mesa Boogie plugins. So to me, that is a win-win.”
In early May this year, Gibson officially announced a change of leadership. This was the first major shift since the ousting of the long-time CEO Henry Juszkiewicz. Although Henry was with Gibson for over three decades, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2018. His successor, James “JC” Curleigh, stayed up until 2023 when Cesar Gueikian — who was already known by guitar fans and who was a massive guitar fan himself — took over.
“We are transitioning to new leadership at a time of strength to ensure the company continues its momentum and is well-positioned to execute on its next phase of growth,” said Nat Zilkha, the chairman in the Board of Directors. Explaining this decision further, she praised Cesar for having “a huge role in the company’s recent success, including securing critical artist partnerships and overseeing the evolution of many of our most iconic product lines, and the Board has full confidence in his leadership.”
Gueikian himself also shared a statement, admitting that he’s “honored to take on this important role with a company that means so much to me.”
He also added:
“Gibson has shaped sound for the last 130 years, and we now have the opportunity to drive the future of music and touch people’s lives for the next 130 years. We have an obligation to continue innovating across instruments, sound, and media and to continue inspiring fans and artists of all levels to create music.”
“I look forward to working closely with our experienced senior leadership and team of incredible craftspeople to ensure the long-term success of the business.”
Since this shift in 2018, Gibson has tried a few new things, even bringing in Megadeth frontman and leader Dave Mustaine for a special run of Gibson, Kramer, and Epiphone signature Flying V guitars. As for the Mesa Boogie acquisition, the company took over the legendary amp brand in early 2021.