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GuitArcheology: Vintage Gibson Print Ads

Michael Leonard
|
02.20.2014

In 2014’s social media world of texting, Tweeting, Facebook-liking and general online sharing, marketing guitars is now a rich process. Back in the day, guitarists were not so well served. If you wanted to see a new guitar model, you’d have to go to your local music store. And, if you bought a guitar magazine – as we’re sure, most guitarists still like to do – you’d see a print ad. But even after that, you’d go to your music store. So, what about those classic print ads?

As with any advertisements, vintage guitar ads capture a time and a place. Many Gibson fans hanker after a bit of “vintage” – if only as an investment – but how were they first advertised? Here’s how. Via the “time capsule” site of VintageGuitarAndBass.com, here are some Gibson advertisement classics, all from 30 to 59 years ago.

Oh, and please “Tweet,” “Like,” “share” and txt your gtr playing buddies about this article. Remember – back then, you’d have to walk over to your guitar bud’s house and say: “Wow, look at this totally cool/happening/groovy ad.”

Gibson.com thanks archivist Jules at VintageGuitarAndBass.com for many of these images. It’s a great website for any vintage-minded guitarist.

1953 – Les Paul and Mary Ford advertise the new Gibson Les Paul. A legend is born.





1954 – The EB-Bass shows off its violin-like body for a “revelation in rhythm.”





1958 – Gibson goes futuristic with the Flying V and pleases traditionalists with the ES-335.





1962 – The iconic headstock is still the best way of building brand image.





1966 – The style of the day dictated illustrations were considered just as powerful as photos.





1967 – A year later, it was simply a photo and slogan, “the workingman’s guitar.” That’s Wes Montgomery, by the way – it’s a great photo of a jazz legend at work.





1969 – Gibson amps are “the voice of the underground.” But is that The Velvet Underground with Nico at the front? No, it’s not, just a cheeky use of a lookalike.





1972 – Gibson advertises its flattops in color (then rare in guitar magazines), pushing the guitars’ “soft feminine voice” and a “resonance that booms with masculinity.” Don’t drop that dreadnought in the lake, young lady!





1974 – The Triumph bass and Les Paul Recording model are bundled together in one ad for the U.K.’s magazines. Question: could the Triumph bass dude be the inspiration for Spinal Tap’s Derek Smalls?





1974 – The now-rare Les Paul Signature model is rocked by a ladies’ man who has clearly invented The Bee Gees three years early. Awesome.





1979 – Gibson’s stripped-back The Paul model is showcased by the man himself. Oddly, few guitar players think of him as Mr “Paul.” Won’t he always be “Les”?





1979 – The RD series debuts with active electronics, “developed by Dr. Robert Moog.” Cool guitar. But do active electronics seem cute, now there are Robot guitars?





1979 – The ’70s’ Gibson Ripper bass is all the rage with Chicago’s Peter Cetera. In later years, the very different-playing Krist Novoselic of Nirvana would be more closely associated with The Ripper. Novoselic now has a Krist Novoselic signature RD bass, too.





1982 – The 30th Anniversary Les Paul Standard takes a bow. Another 30 years later, it’s still golden as ever.

Advertisements say a lot about any era. But what of the instruments? Anyone own a Les Paul Signature model? An original Ripper? A Gibson The Paul?

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