Fender CEO Andy Mooney: “Gibson’s travails are all of their own making”

(Image credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Fender CEO Andy Mooney has stated that fellow guitar giant Gibson, which faces the imminent prospect of bankruptcy, brought about its own financial troubles - and Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz agrees.

In an interview with Forbes, Fender’s head honcho stated, “We've been growing at a faster pace than the industry and enjoying that growth. Gibson’s travails are all of their own making; it’s nothing to do with the state of the industry.”

And Juszkiewicz has taken responsibility for those mistakes, telling the New York Times his plan to transform Gibson into a music lifestyle company “wasn’t a great decision… It didn’t work out very well. I think it was a rational decision, but it turned out to be a very poor decision, and it’s a decision I made. 

"It is what it is.”

That said, the Gibson CEO was also quick to defend the company’s love-it-or-hate-it robot tuners, which he dubbed a “great technology”, thwarted when “the trolls took over the dialogue” - despite admitting, “My regret is we probably pushed a little too fast.”

While Fender generated $500 million of revenue in 2017, Gibson is currently buckling under $520 million in debt, due in July 2018.

Juszkiewicz continues, “It is accurate to say bankruptcy is a possibility in the sense that our bonds expire,” noting he may “have to pass the baton to someone who also has that dream.”

“Part of this is evaluating financing options, and I have to look at what is best for the company, all of the stakeholders and myself.”

In contrast, the secret to Fender’s success seems to be partly down to the launch of online learning platform Fender Play, which aims to encourage young guitarists, led by the statistic that 45% of all Fender guitars sold go to first-time players.

Given Gibson’s top-dollar price tags (Juszkiewicz once told us, “I don't think our consumer actually wants an inexpensive Gibson”), the needs of the beginner may be something the company wishes to consider in its future plans.

For more on the Gibson story so far, and how the company could be saved, take a look at our in-depth feature, Gibson: how did we get here?

Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as a decade-and-a-half performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.

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