Rockin’ hard, rockin’ sweet

The Rolling Stones and Gibson guitars

By Dena Zocher
Freelance Writer

When you think of Gibson guitars, what comes to mind first? The SG? The Firebird? The Flying V? The Les Paul? So many guitars.

The sounds of Gibson guitars are tightly woven through the sounds of rock ‘n’ roll–and the sounds of The Rolling Stones. Keith Richards famously loves his Fenders, but holds a special place in his heart for his Gibsons. Mick Jagger picks up a Gibson Hummingbird acoustic for songwriting. Ronnie Wood plays several favorite Gibsons–and has a few signature models named after him.

That may help explain why Exhibitionism – The Rolling Stones features so many Gibson guitars–more than any other single maker.

That rock ‘n’ roll sound–the one that starts us up and never stops–exists because so many people had an idea and took a risk. Orville Gibson, prime mover of the eponymous company that helped make the electric guitar electric, was one of those guys.

From old-world craftsmanship to rock dynasty
A notably talented luthier, Orville took out a patent in the late 1800s on a new design for guitars and mandolins, mimicking the curve of the belly and back of a violin.1,2 He made the instruments himself, selling them out of his one-room workshop in Kalamazoo, Michigan.3

Demand for Orville’s mandolins soon outstripped his one-man capacity, and in 1902 he took on business partners so he could establish a factory to build his acoustic instruments.4 Orville’s commitment to innovative designs became part of the company’s DNA–and that pioneering attitude helped turn up the volume even more when electric guitars came along.

That rock ‘n’ roll sound–the one that starts us up and never stops–exists because so many people had an idea and took a risk.

Early electric guitars–basically acoustic guitars retrofitted with pickups–could be touchy and sometimes even dangerous for the player. Gibson was one of the early makers to solve those problems, releasing some of the first commercially successful electric guitars. The ever popular Les Paul was the company’s first solid body electric guitar. Gibson quickly followed up with the semi-hollow body ES-335, and the Flying V, SG and Firebird solid body guitars.3 Guitar players are still rockin’ all of these models today.

What can a poor boy do . . .
Keith favors his Les Paul and ES guitars, occasionally picking up a Firebird, Flying V or SG. Ronnie Wood is regularly seen playing Firebird, Les Paul and J-200 acoustic models. In fact, Gibson has released three “Ron Wood” signature models: a J-200, a Firebird and a Dobro.5

Keith and Mick famously used a Gibson Hummingbird acoustic on initial recordings of the melody for “Street Fighting Man.” Songwriting sessions with a Hummingbird yielded memorable Stones hits like “Satisfaction”, “Jumpin' Jack Flash”, “Wild Horses” and more.6

Orville Gibson’s innovative spirit rocks on–in legendary Gibson guitars and their legendary players. At Exhibitionism you can get up close and personal with the legends–and the guitars that help The Stones rock our world.

Experience the legend: Get your tickets for Exhibitionism today.

The opinions and forecasts expressed are those of the author and individuals quoted and should not be construed as a recommendation or as complete. Dena Zocher is not affiliated with Jackson National Life Distributors LLC.

  1. Patent US598245 - Mandolin. (n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2017, from https://www.google.com/patents/US598245
  2. Category: Orville Gibson (luthier). (n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2017, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Orville_Gibson_Mandolin_US-Patent_1898.jpg
  3. Gibson vs. Fender: Which Brand Do Guitar Players Prefer ... (n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2017, from http://takelessons.com/blog/gibson-vs-fender-guitars-z01
  4. 120 Years of Innovation: A Gibson Timeline. (n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2017, from http://www.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Features/en-us/120-Years-of-Innovation-A-Gibson-Timeline.aspx
  5. List of Gibson players. (2017, March 30). Retrieved April 11, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Gibson_players
  6. Gibson Hummingbird. (2017, April 04). Retrieved April 11, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibson_Hummingbird

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