Bill Kelliher Discusses Why He Left Gibson For ESP

Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by Womb raider, Oct 6, 2017.

  1. Womb raider

    Womb raider ESP Addict

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    Found an article over on UG about his switch to ESP. It wasn't really a big secret what happened, but still interesting to hear his take.
    https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/new..._like_shit_that_company_is_falling_apart.html

    "It was a lot of reasons.

    "I never really felt like I was accepted at Gibson. The communication over there is terrible.

    "They kept fucking up my guitars that I was asking for. I didn't ask for a lot - I just had a few certain things that I would like with my guitar - I told them I didn't want it chambered and they made my second guitar chambered.

    "All the guys I worked with over there - the A&R guys were getting fired left and right and the company just seemed to be falling apart to me. There were new guys who would come in and they didn't know shit.

    "It was a breath of fresh air working with ESP. They were interested and would ask me what gauge strings I played and what tunings I play - Gibson never cared about any of that stuff.

    "Kids would get my guitar in the mail and ask me how to tune it because it wasn't tuned and then I would tell them how to tune it and they would say it still doesn't sound right and it's because they're not putting my gauge strings on there.

    "They weren't even tuning the guitars to my settings or specifications – just little things like that. Things that make the guitar a Bill Kelliher model, like put it in my tuning so that when it shows up, it's different.

    "ESP wanted to know all that stuff. They're just friendly and nice and they're interested in me and my band and what they can do for me rather than this company.

    "Gibson just wasn't... I don't know, I think they're on their way downhill honestly.

    "Every guy I talk to - I mean, look at James Hetfield. He was at Gibson, played Gibson stuff and they didn't want to work with him, so he went to ESP. And he's one of the biggest fucking guitar players in our kind of music.

    "It seems like there are a lot of bad decisions being made over there.

    "But ESP is really great. They treat me really well. I love my Sparrowhawk that I designed. It's the best playing guitar that I own."



    "They had been approaching me for a couple years now but I was with Gibson. I was happy with Gibson at the time but I was also in the middle of making guitars with Gibson.

    "I was ready to jump ship and then it just kind of came together when they didn't renew my contract.

    "We sold every guitar that I designed - both types, and I did everything they ever asked me to do.

    "And they were just like, 'Eh, we don't need you anymore.' So it was like, 'Fuck you guys.' I mean, I did every clinic and anything they ever asked me to do.

    "I don't know why, but they treat their artists like shit, basically. ESP doesn't.

    "So I do a lot of stuff for ESP, I do clinics and whatever they want because they're good and they're good to their artists and that's how you keep business going - you're good to your employees and you're good to the people who bring you success or money or your shit's going to go down the drain."
     
  2. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire tinkerer/aspiring builder/8 string hoarder

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    Jesus, if they're treating endorsees like shit and fucking up their guitars then gibson really does need to go bankrupt and enact some serious personnel changes.
     
  3. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician SS.org Regular

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    https://reverb.com/item/359496-2002-epiphone-pierced-sg-matte-black-limited-edition

    Never forget that Gibson designed and marketed this monstrosity. That X was not a mod.

    It’s one of those things that while it seems like an obvious “yeah this has been happening for a while”, is the company run by a family that can’t be voted out/fired?

    I don’t understand how a brand with such a LOYAL fan base can for almost 20 years now (since the late 90’s) just absolutely not care about building a new audience of users to grow with the brand.

    Their offerings at various price points beyond epiphone just don’t add up competitively. The single draw they have left is “if you want a Gibson you buy a Gibson”. It’s a big draw, but with that kind of visibility they really could own every niche if they cared to invest.

    But it seems like everything is so dire there that if anything isn’t an immediate runaway success it gets canned.

    Sell me a matte white/black 24 fret Flying V with an ebony/phenolic fretboard for $1200-1500 or put more ebony on anything. Etc etc.

    Glad Bill is getting treated like a value-add for his new endorsements.
     
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  4. HeHasTheJazzHands

    HeHasTheJazzHands greg rulz ok

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    Looks like Brent Hinds was right :lol: dude saw the writing on the wall before Bill did
     
  5. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    let me stop you right there because that pierced sg is both ridiculous and awesome. It's got earrings in the headstock.
     
  6. Womb raider

    Womb raider ESP Addict

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    feraledge, JD27 and Blytheryn like this.
  7. Blytheryn

    Blytheryn Musical Adam West

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    :lol:
     
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  8. JD27

    JD27 ESP Cult Member

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    Not surprising at all. There is a reason ESP has so many artists and big ones at that.
     
  9. nyxzz

    nyxzz SS.org Regular

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    Also - anyone hear about any major fuck ups from ESP Japan? I haven't. Any Japanese ESP I've ever played was monstrous, half of the 5k Gibsons I've played have been worse than an LTD (LTD made at WMI are pretty damn awesome to be fair). Blows my mind Gibson treats people like that.
     
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  10. feraledge

    feraledge Black Walnut Pounding Bragger Contributor

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    I think "because they're Gibson" and "because they're ESP" would have been a sufficient statement.
    Related note, played a used 2011 Les Paul Custom today at GC and was thoroughly unimpressed. As much as I dislike Gibson as a company, iconic guitars are still iconic, I expected at least a "this is notably better" feel on that than the 2016 used Standards in the same room, but did not. Also my first time trying the robo-tuners, first strum, did not tune correctly. Second was okay, but guitar clearly had some set up issues since the intonation was way off going up the neck. They're as shitty as I suspected they would be.
    All in all, I've played a lot of Gibsons I thought were good, a lot that weren't, but for a Custom to be less desirable to play next to used EC and Viper LTD Deluxes? That's pretty bad. ESP nerding aside, the Custom felt like it was more hefty and clearly better materials than the LTD, but for a $3K guitar (used), I would expect that I wouldn't be eager to put it down.
    Meanwhile, a new ESP USA Eclipse starts at $3,500 street. And with an Eclipse Standard or EII, given the choice, I wouldn't think twice taking that over the LP Custom unless I was planning on selling it.

    TL;DR: It's awesome knowing that the quality of the company seems to non-coincidentally match the quality of the guitars. I don't care for the Sparrowhawk design, but it's awesome that ESP made it happen. Bill seems like a solid dude.
     
  11. feraledge

    feraledge Black Walnut Pounding Bragger Contributor

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    As insane as it is to say it, which it is, at least they probably knew that's what they wanted it to look like and then made it happen. All unadvisable moves, without question. Should be punishable by mob justice.
     
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  12. will_shred

    will_shred not that good.

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    would love to see Gibson bought out, all the upper management fired, and basically everything start fresh. I love the asthetics of Gibson guitars, but I just don't think they're worth the money.
     
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  13. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician SS.org Regular

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    That’s just it. I’d pay what they’re asking price wise, if I could get specs that reflect the price. Stainless steel frets, better access on heels on more models (and plenty of classic ones too, no need to mess with what works), more than mostly flat mono color paint jobs on sub $2k guitars, name brand hardware & pickup options, etc.

    “It’s a Gibson” would work for my father in law, but not me. But he doesn’t play guitar and I do. (He just loves Grateful Dead)
     
  14. HeHasTheJazzHands

    HeHasTheJazzHands greg rulz ok

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    Something worth pointing out as well... Bill wasn't wrong. James WAS pissed with Gibson.

    Screenshot_3.png
     
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  15. M3CHK1LLA

    M3CHK1LLA angel sword guardian

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    ive never owned a gibson, but ive played a few lp's...never clicked with them. hope one day to own an 84 explorer, and one of kirks re-issued v's, but they would end up being wall hangers lol.

    i obviously love esp's and everyone ive played have been top-notch...as have the sig model ltd's too.

    sad to see the gibson name going down the tubes though...hope someone can get in there and fix things before it's too late.
     
  16. technomancer

    technomancer Gearus Pimptasticus Super Moderator

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    Ultimate Guitar: "Bill we need to get some traffic... can you bitch about Gibson for a while? That always draws people in."
    Bill: "Sure I'll repeat the stuff I said a year ago when I actually left Gibson for you guys."

    I remember how pissed he was that his production Halcyon models were chambered... he was planning to tour with them and ended up having the custom shop make him a bunch of identical guitars without the chambering for the tour because he didn't like how the production guitars sounded.

    It is really sad seeing what is happening to Gibson.
     
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  17. lemeker

    lemeker SS.org Slacker

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    Reading the Hetfield comment about icon turned dinosaur kinda made me chuckle a bit.

    Just a thought though, Isn't that kind of the pot calling the kettle black with (the) Les Paul? I mean correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the LP "technically "a sig model?

    Still, I agree it is sad to see such a giant in the industry fall so hard.

    Kinda wish Zakk Wyld would step in...trash his designs and just take over.
     
  18. fps

    fps Kit

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    This is truly unforgivable, and I don't use that term lightly. It's so disrespectful and lazy of Gibson.
     

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