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Gibson Guitars - Owners Information Guide

Owners Information Guide

  • How to Carry your Guitar

    When not in use, we recommend that you always keep your instrument in a high-quality case or gig bag. This will reduce the possibility of damage due to mishaps and sudden changes in climate or atmosphere.

    When placing your instrument in its case, be sure that all the latches are securely fastened. Carry the case with the lid towards your body. In the event that the case falls open, the lid will fall against your body and help prevent the instrument from falling out and suffering damage.

    Never put your instrument in the trunk of your car. Extreme temperatures, even on moderate days, are often found in such a closed environment. Likewise, never place anything on top of your instrument.

    If you transport your instrument via common carriers such as airline, train, or bus, your instrument may be subjected to rough handling and severe environmental changes. For these reasons, a cargo approved hard-shell or flight case would be required.

  • Caring for the Finish of your Instrument

    Your Gibson instrument is finished with several coats of a high-quality nitro-cellulose lacquer. This finish is hand-buffed to a high-gloss, mirror-like surface. Unlike other less expensive finishes, nitro-cellulose does not detract from the tone of the instrument and ages beautifully. This finish, much like skin, requires regular care and maintenance. For this reason, only Gibson Instrument Care Products should be used on ALL Gibson instruments, as Gibson Polishes are also made with a nitro-cellulose base. Using other types of polishes at best will clog the pores of the finish, and at worst, melt the finish.

    Exposure to certain synthetic materials, leather straps, and cushions such as those found on some instrument stands could adversely effect the finish. To insure your finish maintains its beauty, please follow these steps:

    • Never cover or wipe your instrument with synthetic materials.
    • Always remove the strap from the instrument when not in use.
    • Cover or replace guitar stand cushions with cotton cloth.

    Perspiration can also damage the guitar finish as well as the hardware finish. Always clean your instrument and hardware with a soft, non-synthetic cloth before storing it. To prolong the beauty and durability of the finishes we recommend the Gibson Instrument Care Products:

    • Gibson Pump Polish – For the day-to-day care of your instruments
    • Luthier's Choice Triple Pak – The Gibson Luthier’s Choice Guitar Care Triple Pack is one-stop shopping for maintaining your stringed instruments. Guitar polish, fretboard conditioner and string cleaner are all included to help your prized guitars look, feel and play their best.
    • Vintage Reissue Guitar Restoration Kit – Gibson’s Vintage Reissue Guitar Restoration Kit is essential for keeping your vintage reissue Gibson looking its best. Gibson care products are specially designed to help keep your investment in top condition and appearance. This kit will make your vintage reissue (or your old guitar) look brand new.

    A rapid change in temperature or humidity can result in small cracks in the finish known as "finish checking". In most cases it happens when a chilled instrument is exposed to warm air. It occurs most frequently in the winter when a guitar case is opened in a warm room or studio after being outside. This is a result of the wood expanding faster than the lacquer. While this condition does not affect the tone it certainly does affect the appearance. To eliminate the possibility of this happening to your instrument we recommend you warm it slowly by opening the case slowly and fanning it to induce warm air to circulate over the top. If a bright bluish fog appears on the top, close the case immediately and let it warm up for a few minutes. Then lift the instrument a little bit from the case and allow the rest of it to warm to room temperature.

  • Maintaining the Guitar

    Guitars are tuned to A-440. Leave it tuned to pitch in the case during short periods of storage. If you are going to store it for extended periods, relax the string tension but leave them attached.

    Keep your instrument clean. Wax deposits or other foreign materials that are allowed to accumulate will impede its performance.

    Keep the strings clean. Perspiration and other foreign materials that accumulate in the windings will cause oxidation and loss of excursion. This results in pitch and intonation problems in the upper ranges.

    Change your strings frequently. Fresh strings add to the exciting tonal characteristics of your instrument!

  • How to Properly Tune your Instrument

    Many individuals have their own method of tuning their instruments. We recommend the following method that is used at the Gibson factory.

    A guitar is usually tuned to A-440. The following charts shows how different instruments are tuned:



    6th 5th 4th 3rd 2nd 1st
    E A D G B E


    5th 4th 3rd 2nd 1st
    G D G B G


    4th 3rd 2nd 1st
    G D A E

    Tune the two outside strings (or pairs) first, then tune towards the center. This equalizes the pressure on the bridge and allows for rapid tuning.

    To check the instrument for proper intonation pick a harmonic tone (chime) at the 12th fret and check it against the fretted tone - they should be the same. If the harmonic note is sharp, move the bridge or saddle towards the tailpiece. If the harmonic note is flat, move the bridge or saddle towards the fingerboard.

  • How the Electronics Work on your Gibson Guitar

    Your Gibson Electric Guitar is capable of producing a variety of sounds by manipulating the controls.

    Tone Controls

    The tone controls on all models are "treble cut" controls. This means that as you turn the knob counterclockwise you reduce the treble output of that pickup and produce a darker tone. Turning the knob fully clockwise will produce the brightest sound. T his means that the pickups full range of harmonic frequencies are being passed on to the amplifier.

    Selector Switch

    The selector switch permits you to turn pickups on and off. In the middle position both pickups are turned on. When the switch is "up" the neck (or Rhythm) pickup only is turned on. When the switch is "down" the bridge (or Treble) pickup is turned on.

    Coil Tap Switch (certain models)

    Certain models are equipped with a coil tap switch. This allows a double-coil (humbucker) pickup to give you the sound of a single-coil pickup.

    When the switch is "up" you have the traditional humbucker sound. When the switch is "down" it produces the brighter sound that you expect from a single coil pickup. Some volume loss is experienced in the single-coil mode.

    The Varitone Control (certain models)

    This control works through a reduction of the fundamental harmonic frequencies. The higher the setting, the greater the loss of "low" frequencies. Positions 3 and 4 produce a sound similar to a single-coil pickup. The exact frequency "cuts" are listed below:

    • Position 1--> no cut
    • Position 2--> -5db at 1950hz
    • Position 3--> -12db at 1 100hz
    • Position 4--> -16db at 620hz
    • Position 5--> -18.5db at 360hz
    • Position 6--> -21db at 1 20hz
  • Bridge Adjustment

    The bridge on your instrument has been set to exacting factory standards for intonation and action. Rarely will your instrument need bridge adjustment unless a different gauge of strings are used or the strings are not changed often. On flat-top guitars the bridge is permanently placed on the surface of the top. Banjos and mandolins have a movable bridge (banjos usually have very fine pencil markings showing the proper placement of the bridge. Most electric guitars have a permanently placed bridge with adjustable saddles.

  • Action

    The term "action" defines the distance that a string must be depressed before it meets the fret. Action measurements are taken in 64ths of an inch and are calculated from the top of the 12th fret on the underside of the string. We set the action on all instruments at the factory to the optimum playability setting. On occasion, lower than standard settings may be desired by the player. This can be achieved by adjusting the bridge studs, although it could result in string "buzz" or "rattle" (this is caused by the string vibrating against the fret). "Buzz" or "rattle" caused by lower than standard string action is not considered a defect of the instrument.

    (Action at the 12th fret)

      Treble Side Bass Side
    Electric Guitar 3/64 5/64
    Acoustic Guitar 4/64 6/64
    Banjo 7/64 7/64
    Mandolin 5/64 5/64
    Bass Guitar 5/64 7/64
  • The Gibson Adjustable Truss Rod System

    Since 1926, all Gibson guitars (except classical guitars) have had the adjustable truss rod systems When the instrument is tuned to pitch there is a bending load on the neck. The truss rod is designed to compensate for this load and helps insure the straightness of the neck.

    Should neck or fingerboard warpage appear (or different gauges of strings are used), the truss rod can be adjusted by removing the truss rod cover located on the peghead and adjusting the hexagon-shaped truss rod nut. This adjustment should be performed by qualified repair personnel only - improper adjustment can result in damage!

    Newer Gibson banjos (after 5/1988) employ a two-way truss rod. Turning the nut clockwise will correct an underbow. Counterclockwise adjustment will correct an overbow. Again, this adjust should be performed by qualified repair personnel only - improper adjustment can result in damage!

  • The Proper way to String your Instruments

    As simple as it may sound, proper string installation is critical to the playability of your instrument. An incorrectly installed string can slip and cause the instrument to continually go out of tune.

    At the bridge...

    The lower end of the instrument is strung . Different instruments are strung according to the bridge and string type. The bridge end is always strung before the string posts at the neck..

    At the neck...

    To fasten a string on the string post bring the string up the center of the instrument to the post desired. Put string (A) through the hole or slot in the post at (B) to (C), then around the upper side of the post (D) and under the string (A) at (B), then back again around the post (D). Now the string will lock itself against the post as you tighten the string and prevent slipping.

  • How to Obtain Warranty Service

    If you require warranty service you may contact your nearest authorized Gibson Warranty Repair Center. It is not necessary to contact Gibson first. The owner will be responsible for getting the instrument to the Warranty Center. If the instrument is shipped freight and insurance must be prepaid.

    If there is no Warranty Center in your area, you may contact your nearest authorized Gibson Dealer. Your dealer will evaluate the situation, then contact us for further instructions. All returns to Gibson must have a return authorization- any shipments that do not have authorization will he refilsed

    Only authorized Gibson service centers may perform warranty service - any service performed by unatlthorized persons will void your warranty. Gibson disclaims liability for defects or damages caused by service performed by unauthorized persons and all non-warranty service not performed by Gibson.

    When contacting Gibson in writing you should include a complete description of the problem. If non-warranty work is recommended, a quotation will be issued and must be approved by the owner before such work is done. We appreciate a prompt notification of your wishes. It is not necessary to purchase non-warranty work in order to obtain service on materials covered by the warranty.

    Subsequent to inspecting an instrument upon arrival, Gibson or the authorized Gibson Warranty Repair Center will advise you or your dealer of the approximate date of completion The repaired instrument or part will be returned to the owner or dealer t'reight collect and insured.

    No representative or other person is authorized to assume for Gibson any liability except as stated above. For further information contact:

    Gibson Musical Instruments
    309 Plus Park Boulevard
    Nashville, TN 37217
    (800) 444-2766