The Gibson Guitar Corporation, formerly of Kalamazoo, Michigan and currently of Nashville, Tennessee, manufactures guitars and other instruments which sell under a variety of brand names. With a history of over a century, Gibson has been one of the companies that have revolutionized the development of the acoustic and the electric guitar, and along the way have built one of the world's most iconic guitars, the Gibson Les Paul. Many of their instruments continue to increase in value, and some Gibsons are among the most collectible guitars.
The company was founded by Orville Gibson, who made mandolins in Kalamazoo, in the late 1890s. He invented archtop guitars by using the same type of carved, arched tops found 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. 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 the early 1950s, Gibson introduced its first solid-body electric guitar and in 1952 began producing its most popular guitar to date—the Les Paul, designed by Ted McCarty and Les Paul. After being purchased by the Norlin corporation in the late 1960s Gibson's quality and fortunes took a steep decline until early 1986, when the company was acquired by its present owners.
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