Gibson CEO Talks Company Success After Change in Management, Says Their Fan Base Grew Significantly

During the past decade or so, Gibson went through some turbulent times. That’s not a new thing for the company, however, as they’ve experienced some hardships in the past as well. Now with a new CEO at their helm, James Curleigh, the famous guitar brand has a new path, or at least that’s what guitar lovers are hoping for.

According to what Curleigh said in a recent interview with Nashville Business Journal (via Music Radar), Gibson is doing much better at the moment. Of course, there was the pandemic that stopped the entire music industry at a screeching halt. But Gibson managed to get back on its feet.

Looking back at the pandemic and the change in top management, James offered:

“About three and a half years ago, we set about rebuilding the new Gibson and what we call Gibson 3.0. We did it with expanding our crafters, investing in craftsmanship and automation, we did it with building out new platforms like Gibson Media and Gibson TV and by paying attention to all our brands…

“We took a brand portfolio approach to leverage our iconic paths and do what was expected, but also lean into the innovative future. We’ve done that and so, our strategies were working before Covid-19.”

As he explains, the initial “month or two of COVID-19” were rough and their business suffered. However, he also adds:

“As people settle into the unfortunate new norm of COVID and figured out that they had time and passion, they all of a sudden started playing guitar. We started doing more made-to-measures, more custom shops.”

“We saw every dimension of our fan base grow significantly. What we’ve done through COVID… Unfortunately, it took a global pandemic, but we’ve set up a lifetime journey for individuals to play guitar more than at any stage probably in the last, I don’t know, since The Beatles…”

Whether The Beatles comparison is applicable here – we won’t make any confident conclusions of our own. Only time will tell as guitar players are the ones who will have a final say in this.

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Regarding Gibson Garage in Nashville, Tennessee. a large “retail experience” that’s celebrating its first birthday, James discusses the possibility of more such locations spawning around the country. He offers:

“You look at the key cities of where the center of culture, of music, could be happening in a country or in a state, or in a city. You could imagine cities like London as being the next Gibson Garage.”

“What about Shanghai in the future, where it’s not as mature of a guitar market, but boy it’s growing fast. You can think of Tokyo as an opportunity in the future. And then probably a few other cities in the States, is it L.A. or New York?”

“No plans as of yet, but in a five-year vision, us putting a standard of the Gibson experience in place in key markets in key cities will only benefit the entire guitar business community and the fan base around it.”

Photo: get directly down (Gibsons), Gibson logo (public domain)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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