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Jimi75
November 17th, 2010, 04:38 AM
Alex Skolnick is the guitar player for Testament and Transiberian orchestra. He's acknowledged for being one of the best Metal guitarists of all time and he's also a great Jazz player.

He was invited to the Firebird X presentation. Now.....read this, it's pretty funny what was going on there at the Gibson plant that day...


"Exhausted from a long recording session the previous day, mentally prepping for an upcoming tour the next week and granted one day of free time, there were places I’d rather be at 11am on a crisp Fall Thursday morning—relaxing at a quiet neighborhood coffee house; enjoying the sanctity of my Brooklyn apartment and its books, paintings, and vintage guitars; or going for a run in the park. Instead, I found myself packed into a crowded theater within the Hard Rock Cafe theme restaurant, right smack in the middle of Times Square. Why? Because it’s not every day one gets an e-mail invite that is written in bold ‘stencil’ font, has the feel of a classified military document and says this:

GIBSON INVITES YOU TO WITNESS A REVOLUTION.
Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar Corp, will address members of the press, artists and fans, with an announcement that will change music forever. This is more than a press conference. More than an event. THIS IS AN UPRISING!

Revolution? Uprising? Change music forever?
Those are some pretty strong words.
The first words that came to my mind were, "Give me a f**king break." At the same time, I was curious. After all, Gibson is the "Coca-Cola"of guitar companies—the biggest in the world, the most recognizable brand name, and the one with arguably the most historical significance (although a case can be made for Fender Musical Instruments—the "Pepsi" of guitar companies). Surely Gibson wouldn’t make statements like this without having the goods to back them up. Right?

After checking in at the door, my manager and I grabbed one of the last available tables, joining the fray of music biz folk clamoring to see what the fuss was all about—journalists, music retailers, guitar enthusiasts and over in the right corner, posing for pictures, a famous Gibson endorsee and childhood hero of mine: original Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley. As random acquaintances began coming over to say hello, it felt as though the annual Winter NAMM convention was starting three months early.

Then the lights went down, and an announcer introduced Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz, whom I’ll hereafter refer to as, Mr. J. Casually dressed in an official denim jacket and khakis, the balding Mr. J looked like a 50-something business type doing his best to look ‘hip.’ He appeared from behind the giant movie screen, hopped off the stage and walked the floor amongst the puzzled people in the front row. Taking his place in front of the left side of the stage, he looked up at the screen and, skipping all formalities, began speaking into the microphone as the slide show began: 1877—Thomas Edison invents the worlds first phonograph machine. (Cue to next image): 1894—Orville Gibson sells his first instruments, launching Gibson Guitars.

Thus began the photographic retrospective of strategically chosen musical and technological milestone achievements, including the first power tubes, first Moog synthesizers, and more recently, the creation of Blue Tooth (sic) technology. The majority were Gibson guitar innovations including the early L series archtops, the first humbucking pickups (designed by Seth Lover for Gibson) and Les Paul’s initial solidbody prototypes. This chronological slide show effectively conveyed a message that what we were about to witness would be next in line—a "game changing" creation sure to live up to all the events depicted on that screen.

Where was he going with all this? Would Gibson deliver on their promise? Were we actually watching history in the making?

As the slide show ended, Mr. J began pacing back and forth, practically disappearing in the darkness. He would have been invisible had it not been for his height (Mr. J is well over six feet tall). The crowd quietly murmured above the awkward silence until, in the tone of an NBA coach riling up his team during half time, Mr. J launched into a diatribe about today’s guitars, including those of his own company, describing them all as inexcusably dated: They’re based on 1950’s technology, for god’s sake! Have we no shame? Where’s the spirit of all those legendary innovators? What about all the breakthroughs in computer and cell phone technology? Why not guitars?! Isn’t time we take instruments forward again, into the future? Hasn’t the time has come for—REVOLUTION?!!

That’s when things got a little weirdÖ

Mr. J stopped pacing for a moment as an assistant handed him a guitar. Like a magician showing the crowd his black magic hat, he held the instrument up for all to see—it looked like a classic red Gibson SG. Grabbing it by its neck, he raised it high above his head like an oversized hammer at a carnival. Then, in a tone reminiscent of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, the part where he shouts out "You can’t handle the truth!" Mr. J. defiantly declared "This is the past!"

I couldn’t help but wonder, "Is he gonna do what I think he...."

No sooner had this phrase formulated in my mind than Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitars, began smashing the red SG against the stage like a frenetic madman. Lacking the physical strength to break it in two, he tossed the wooden corpse as far as he could onto the side of the stage—it landed with a ringing thud. As the crowd gasped in a mix of bemusement, shock, and unmitigated horror, he clamored, "And THIS is the future!" The screen lifted...

Now, before we get into the Frankenstein-like creation that lay behind that screen, a few words about what we’d just witnessed: smashing a guitar is a contentious gesture under any circumstances. It’s one thing if we’re talking about the Clash, Paul Stanley of Kiss, or most famously, Pete Townshend of the Who—and even then, it’s debatable. While I, as a fan, have never had a problem with these undeniably great rock bands smashing instruments for their grand finale, I’ve known many musicians—clearly more socially and environmentally conscious than myself—who’ve been bothered by it. But the head of Gibson?! What kind of statement does that make? One would assume that the guitar he destroyed was one of Gibson’s lower end SG’s (let’s hope so), but in Mr. J’s hands, it was nonetheless representative of all that Gibson has ever stood for.

As the makeshift curtain lifted towards the ceiling, a mist of smoke shrouded that which had just been unveiled: a petite, gleaming electric guitar with three shiny chrome pickups, four toggle switches and several knobs (one of which lit up). Bringing to mind what they thought the future would look like in the 1960’s, it resembled a gadget from the animated series The Jetsons—the size was perfect for the tiny hands of George Jetson’s son Elroy and with its feminine reddish/orange hue, better suited for a girl-band fronted by George’s teenage daughter, Judy.

Mr. J (Juszkiewicz, not Jetson), then formally introduced us to this colorful concoction: the Gibson Firebird X.

No sooner had we been given our first glimpse of Gibson’s baby monster than the screen came back down and a new slide show started. This one featured close ups of the model—Mr. J’s new pride and joy—one of which he had just been handed. In one hand he awkwardly held the guitar, in the other hand, a microphone, which he’d often forget to speak into. Describing the Firebird X’s thousands of pick-up configurations, third party ‘apps,’ audio interface, wireless Bluetooth footswitch, robotic tuning pegs and more, he resembled a budget impersonation of Apple CEO Steve Jobs introducing the iPad.

According to Mr. J, every sound you could ever want, electric and acoustic, is right here in the ‘engine’ of this instrument. You want a 1970’s Les Paul Standard with a Seymour Duncan ’59 pickup? It’s here! You want a pre-CBS Strat with split humbuckers? It’s here! You want a Martin steel-string guitar with Fishman Transducer coils? It’s here! You won’t need those guitars anymore! And effects: Delay? Flange? Chorus? Phase? It’s all right here!

I couldn’t help but think of this TV commercial from my youth—an ad for Prego Spaghetti Sauce. "Just as good as homemade" they said, with all the ingredients "Mom" would use. Parsley? Basil? Oregano? IT’S IN THERE!
__________________

Commodore 64
November 17th, 2010, 04:57 AM
Ha Ha Ha. Great Read. Thanks for that.

FrankenFretter
November 17th, 2010, 07:02 AM
Excellent. It's good to hear from someone who was actually there at the unveiling of this abomination. Very funny, too. Thanks, Jimi!

Katastrophe
November 17th, 2010, 07:08 AM
Lacking the physical strength to break it in two, he tossed the wooden corpse as far as he could onto the side of the stage—it landed with a ringing thud.

Ol' Henry shoulda used a MFH.

What a powerdork.:thwap

Tig
November 17th, 2010, 07:53 AM
Mr. J should have had William Shatner pinch hit for him!

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_WriF8m2mVt0/SYMRnq9vhGI/AAAAAAAADqE/BhQ-En3QL88/s400/ShatnerChoke.jpg
http://loyalkng.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Top-10-Shitty-William-Shatner-Star-Treks-Captain-Kirk-Movies-by-Cinemassacres-James-Rolfe.jpg
http://blog.urbanbohemian.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/shatnerpenis.jpg

marnold
November 17th, 2010, 08:15 AM
That was very well written. I'm not the biggest Testament fan, but there's no denying Alex Skolnick's abilities and credentials. I will say that I agree with "Mr. J" on one point. Guitarists are horrible luddites when it comes to their instruments. It seems like only the metal guys go for oddly-shaped guitars, embracing active pickups, etc. Otherwise everybody seems to want things they way they were in the 50s and 60s, as if every instrument that rolled off the assembly line back then had the qualities of the best examples that still survive.

Having said that, I'm not sure that the Firebird X is the answer. It's not really that revolutionary, rather an amalgamation of a lot of ideas that have been around a while. I guess I'll just be happy that it's not yet another Les Paul where the only difference from every other Les Paul is the pickup rings.

Katastrophe
November 17th, 2010, 08:31 AM
Edited and removed by me for not coming out the way that I wanted.

sunvalleylaw
November 17th, 2010, 09:51 AM
Hmm. When he started talking about the khakis and jeans jacket, it sounded to me like someone was trying to "borrow" from Apple presentations. Big slide shows, casual dress, music, etc. But Jobs never would take a historical and excellent historical piece of his company's history and try to look like a rock star by smashing it on stage. "Mr. J" was just trying way too hard it seems.

If this new guitar is really just an uber modeler, then why not also get some great ergonomics and design going too? Rather than re-hash a 60s vision of the future retro look? Something with really great design from the perspective of ergonomics and easy, comfortable play, and maybe some great design in terms of interface for all this modeling stuff. A better way to work the stuff.

But never insult, disregard and destroy your good instruments of the past and heritage that those instruments built. Stoopid. You don't see Jobs throwing Apple IIs down on stage. Dude was trying way too hard.


As far as guitars being stuck in the past, my view is that guitars are musical tools for expression. Like an acoustic piano, a guitar is not bad or outdated because it relies on old methods. But also like keyboards, new things can be developed that allow for even more expression and creativity. The electric keyboard may not be the same as a fine concert piano, so both have their place. Gibson (and/or Fender ala Variax) should develop new ways of creating with guitars, and focus on improving design. Unless there is going to be some big breakthrough in ergonomics, it seems like the breakthroughs will be in modeling, and accessing those models and expressive tools in new ways. Unfortunately, this new Gibson looks like the cars of the 80s with new electronic features starting to be included.

NWBasser
November 17th, 2010, 10:14 AM
The robot guitar
The Dusk Tiger
The Firebird X
Over-the-top marketing hyperbole.

What the hell is Henry J smoking these days?

How could this possibly work out well for Gibson?

I think the 50s Studio Tribute was really a good move, but everything else seems counterproductive. IMO, of course.

sunvalleylaw
November 17th, 2010, 10:47 AM
The robot guitar
The Dusk Tiger
The Firebird X
Over-the-top marketing hyperbole.

What the hell is Henry J smoking these days?

How could this possibly work out well for Gibson?

I think the 50s Studio Tribute was really a good move, but everything else seems counterproductive. IMO, of course.

Don't forget the Gibson Hendrix Strat!

http://www.gear-vault.com/gibson-hendrix-strat-people-are-pissed/

Eric
November 17th, 2010, 11:29 AM
I will say that I agree with "Mr. J" on one point. Guitarists are horrible luddites when it comes to their instruments. It seems like only the metal guys go for oddly-shaped guitars, embracing active pickups, etc. Otherwise everybody seems to want things they way they were in the 50s and 60s, as if every instrument that rolled off the assembly line back then had the qualities of the best examples that still survive.
I can get behind that. He (Henry) got crucified on some message boards for allegedly calling guitarists who don't embrace the Firebird X luddites, but I think there's a lot of truth in what you say. Though I generally like the technological innovation, I'm probably guilty of that reactionary mindset many times too: sometimes I just want what I know will work.

sunvalleylaw
November 17th, 2010, 11:45 AM
So what's that thing Kirk is holding in the bottom photo?

Tig
November 17th, 2010, 12:35 PM
So what's that thing Kirk is holding in the bottom photo?

Normally, they hold themselves upright on their own.
Something this large requires assistance.

We are talking about stalagmites, right?

D-yy2URAYqU

NWBasser
November 17th, 2010, 12:47 PM
Don't forget the Gibson Hendrix Strat!

http://www.gear-vault.com/gibson-hendrix-strat-people-are-pissed/

Oh, I can't believe I missed one the greatest eff-ups of all time!:thwap

How on God's green earth did anyone think that was a good idea?

I think Gibson needs some checks and balances in place before they implode.

Auriemma
November 18th, 2010, 08:08 AM
Just when I was going to drop serious money on a Gibson, I have to go and read this. First, Mr. J act like an @$$, next he proves he is one by throwing a guitar (sorry, that is a lack of respect on too many levels). Then I go and look at this new piece of expensive, noise making, firewood. GAH!

Does Fender know that Gibson decided to make a REALLY ugly Jaguar, paint it like a 1990s car, and fill it with electronic crap?

Where is the line for the Luddite club? Sign me up!

kiteman
November 18th, 2010, 03:53 PM
So the 50s are ancient history? So are the tube amps.

Time to toss the tube amps along with the guitars and usher in the new boxes of chips.

kuvash
December 6th, 2010, 02:16 PM
Welll,we gotta pay for the lost revenue from that flood......somehow doncha' spose?
IMO,Gibson really does not listen...they want to "tell" the customers what they really need and what is really in their best interests.
Oh sure,Khaki and denim today.....that 'cause the white shoes and the white belt of the old car lot has passed by the way side.
FYI.....I do play guitar from them as well as from others

kuvash

bcdon
October 6th, 2011, 06:56 PM
So the Firebird-X was released on September 30, 2011. Why haven't I seen any 'NFXD' posts? :rollover

Tig
October 6th, 2011, 07:01 PM
I read part of a review by Premier Guitar. I'm still not interested.
http://www.premierguitar.com/Magazine/Issue/2011/Oct/Gibson_Firebird_X_Electric_Guitar_Review.aspx

I forgot to mention that there were 2 Firebird X's at the local GC a few weeks ago. Bowling Ball Red and Blue.

Ch0jin
October 6th, 2011, 11:44 PM
....

If this new guitar is really just an uber modeler, then why not also get some great ergonomics and design going too?

What, you mean make it a Strat ;)