Gibson Brands, Inc. (formerly Gibson Guitar Corporation) is an American manufacturer of guitars, other musical instruments, and professional audio equipment from Kalamazoo, Michigan, and now based in Nashville, Tennessee. The company was formerly known as Gibson Guitar Corporation and renamed Gibson Brands, Inc. on June 11, 2013.
|Formerly||Gibson Guitar Corp.|
|Founded||1902 in Kalamazoo, Michigan|
|Parent||KKR & Co. Inc.|
Orville Gibson started making instruments in 1894 and founded the company in 1902 as the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co. Ltd. in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to make mandolin-family instruments. Gibson invented archtop guitars by constructing the same type of carved, arched tops used on violins. By the 1930s, the company was also making flattop acoustic guitars, as well as one of the first commercially available hollow-body electric guitars, used and popularized by Charlie Christian. In 1944, Gibson was bought by Chicago Musical Instruments (CMI), which was acquired in 1969 by Panama-based conglomerate Ecuadorian Company Limited (ECL), that changed its name in the same year to Norlin Corporation. Gibson was owned by Norlin Corporation from 1969 to 1986. In 1986, the company was acquired by a group led by Henry Juszkiewicz and David H. Berryman. In November 2018, the company was acquired by a group of investors led by private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.
Gibson sells guitars under a variety of brand names and builds one of the world's best-known guitars, the Gibson Les Paul. Gibson was at the forefront of innovation in acoustic guitars, especially in the big band era of the 1930s; the Gibson Super 400 was widely imitated. In 1952, Gibson introduced its first solid-body electric guitar, the Les Paul, which became its most popular guitar to date—designed by a team led by Ted McCarty.
In addition to guitars, Gibson offers consumer electronics through the Gibson Pro Audio division, which includes KRK.
On May 1, 2018, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and announced a restructuring plan to return to profitability by closing down unprofitable consumer electronics divisions such as Gibson Innovations. The company exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2018.