Do you prefer Gibson or Fender guitars, and why?

5 Answers

Paul Wilson Profile
Paul Wilson answered

Hi Dan,

That's a bit like the Ford/Vauxhall; Football/Cricket; type questions! I guess we tend to like what we hear in the music we gravitate towards, and what we get exposed to.

I like both Fender and Gibson guitars, but always head towards Gibsons because they defined more of the sounds I followed - Led Zeppelin, Focus, ZZ Top, Gary Moore etc. Of course Hendrix is up there, and Rory Gallagher, Ritchie Blackmore on Fender but there were just more Gibsons making the sound I wanted to hear and make!

They definitely sound and play quite different though, and you can pin down why: -

Gibson - mahogany neck/body (neck inset and glued); 24.75" scale length; humbucker or heavy wound single-coils. (Les Paul, SG, Flying V etc)

Fender - ash/alder body with bolt-on maple neck; 25.5" scale length, light wound single-coils.

I find the Gibsons have a richer native tone (more fruity), but can sound muddy and/or harsh, and the shorter-scale makes them easier on the bends,  while Fenders have a more neutral, articulate tone that is more versatile, and are slightly harder to play with the longer scale length.

What do you think? Anybody else?


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Dan Banks
Dan Banks commented
Yes this is definitely a rather 'open' question. I agree with what you say about how musical taste can dictate what guitar you may prefer. Aesthetics have also been important for me though, even if that does seem somewhat shallow. I've always preferred the look and style of Fenders compared to Gibson guitars, but again this is probably because I've seen most of my guitar heroes play Fender guitars. I suppose it's the same principle as buying a car- you want it to suit your needs, but you also want it to look nice.
Paul Wilson
Paul Wilson commented
Good point, of course I was influenced by the look of the guitars too - we all want to look like our heroes. On looks alone, my favourite is probably the Stratocaster - it is just such an iconic image of my most impressionable era, even though my musical heroes were often playing Gibsons, in particular the Les Paul. Both these guitars have ended up looking 'just right' because of the pou
as well as the brilliance of the design,
Paul Wilson
Paul Wilson commented
Should be popular image as well as the brilliance of the design. Is it clumsy ageing me, or is it to easy to prematurely post a comment with a return? Probably the former I guess :-)
Adrian Snood Profile
Adrian Snood answered

I was a professional musician for over 20 years (My instruments were tuba and double bass) However, I learnt guitar when I was 7 which lead to the start of my musical career.  I still play guitar now and finally ended up using a Fender Telecaster as my all round guitar.. From rock to jazz (I use it even in Traditional big bands) I found it the nicest guitar to record as the single coils are so clean.. This isn't to say that I'm not a fan of Gibson guitars as I own a Gibson DSM acoustic which  I can beat the living daylights out of :-)

I generally found that Gibson guitars were rather heavy and in the case of the SG often suffered with tuning issues eg: They went out of tune quicker than my Telecaster..  The Les Paul neck is a little too chunky for my hands as well otherwise I'd have one in a shot. To that end I bought a Gordon Smith Graduate as my 'thicker sound' guitar as it is almost indistinguishable in sound to a Les Paul, slightly lighter and has a beautiful neck ..

In conclusion, too me, guitars were tools of my trade and I went for simply what worked, rather than what looked nice or even what would be a 'status symbol' in some cases..

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Paul Wilson
Paul Wilson commented
Yes, a Telecaster beckons sometime in the future, when I feel I have earned it! To me, the Tele is 'rough and clear' while the Strat is 'sweet and clear'. What the hell - let's have both!
Adrian Snood
Adrian Snood commented
best of both worlds... Though I'd have to 'hard-tail' the strat. I'm not a fan of wammy bars.. I had an unpleasant experience with a floyd rose many years ago!
Paul Wilson
Paul Wilson commented
Yes, when I played a Strat for while I hard-tailed it to keep it in tune.
Lily Bradic Profile
Lily Bradic , Used to play bass, grew up with Gibson-playing brother, answered

I'm probably biased in this respect, as Fenders aren't suited to the sort of music I tend to play - I usually associate Fenders with blues and jazz, whereas, when I played bass on a regular bassist, I was more into rock and metal - and Gibsons have always seemed better-suited to this type of music.

Personal Experience

I've got a Schecter Hellraiser bass that I'm really happy with, though, but my ideal instrument would be a cream Gibson SG bass...they look gorgeous! I've played Fenders before, and they just don't feel as nice to play - for me, anyway.

My brother's a serious musician and he's had more guitars than I can count on my fingers, but he always goes back to the Gibsons - again, it depends on what type of music you want to play. He's into classic rock and fast-paced metal.

I think the amplifier is just as important as the instrument, though. You can't beat a Marshall amp and a Gibson guitar combo, in my opinion!

Bruce Tillson Profile
Bruce Tillson answered

I prefer Fender but only with a maple fret board. I also like Gibson/Epiphone with a rosewood fret board. They are really different sounding and very different feel to each one. If I were playing a cross over country type of music I would opt for the Fender Strat. If I were playing Southern Rock or Blues, it would have to go to a Les Paul or ES335. If you know how to use effects, I suppose you could get away with either. That is why I built my own version of a Tele Les Paul. The electronic configuration gives me options of clean and bright or dirty and full OR Clean and Full....The way I have the Bill Lawrence pickups wired, I have about 15 different combinations of pickup options. Couldn't get what I wanted at a store so I built my own. My next one will be of it's own body style, dual humbuckers (probably over wound DiMarzios) and a whammy bar (Mighty Mite or Buckner) Floyd Rose systems are too complex with all of the locking stuff!! OOps,,,,got carried away.

Adrian Masters Profile
Adrian Masters answered

I grew up with Gibson, now that i am older I seem to gravitate more to the Fender Stratocaster. When I was in my 20's I really got into Paul Reed Smith guitars. Those gorgeous 10 top's and the inlaid birds in flight on the neck were beautiful! Now that Paul has had to sell the company, the new guitars just do not seem up to standards.

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Paul Wilson
Paul Wilson commented
Hi Adrian,

Yeah, quite a few players go in that direction (Gibson to Fender), and I think the versatility is the key - with a cleaner natural sound you have a wider range of things you can do with it. Some go the other way though - Mark Knopfler, Joe Bonamassa..

PRS guitars are interesting in the context of Dan's question, as most of them have Gibson-style body/neck construction, with a Fender-style longer scale length, so you get the tone with the clarity. Carlos Santana has used them for years.


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