Its relationship with some other guitar brands may currently be fractious - though the situation is complicated - but Gibson has shown that it does have a heart by returning the Oberheim brand and intellectual property to company founder and all-round synth legend Tom Oberheim.
As you may or may not know, the Oberheim name has been owned by Gibson for since 1988, and was retained as the company sought to expand into new areas. However, with Gibson now refocusing on its core business - ie, guitars - its legacy portfolio is being rationalised, and Tom Oberheim is benefitting from what’s being called a gesture of goodwill.
“Of the many stories I have heard and decisions I have made since joining Gibson, this situation seemed simple,” explains James ‘JC’ Curleigh, President and CEO of Gibson.
“Let’s do the right thing by putting the Oberheim brand back in the hands of its’ namesake founder Tom Oberheim.”
Following a chance encounter, the seeds of an agreement were sown at The Winter NAMM Show, after which the Gibson team worked to find a solution. Then, following a discussion between JC and Tom Oberheim, the deal was done.
“After over 30 years of being without it, I am thrilled to once again be able to use the Oberheim trademark for my products,” said an understandably delighted Tom Oberheim . “I am very grateful to the new leadership team of Gibson for making this possible.”
Oberheim was founded in 1969, and went on to release a string of classic synths, most notably the OB series. There was also the DMX drum machine, which was heavily used by early hip-hop producers
Speculation will now be rife that Oberheim could bring back some of its classic gear. Behringer has an OB-Xa clone on the way, but an official revival would be something else.
The return of the Oberheim Brand follows Yamaha’s decision to return the Sequential name to company founder Dave Smith in 2015.