NAMM 2019 VIDEO: Gibson CEO JC Curleigh talks lessons learned, quality control and what's in store

NAMM 2019: As we speak, Gibson CEO James 'JC' Curleigh has been in post for "a coupla months", but what quickly becomes apparent as we talk at NAMM 2019 is that the troubled guitar giant is now pointing in the right direction.

The robot is probably best left to a dance

Time and again, Curleigh comes up with convincing answers, addressing long-time concerns like "novelty" innovation and that old Gibson bugbear, quality control.

"The road to NAMM was our obsession," Curleigh says, revealing how one of the first questions his staff posed led to "kind of a positively awkward moment" before they proved that the company and its product could be ready for the convention, after their keenly felt absence last year.

Of the company's previous attempts at innovation - most notably its automatic Min-ETune/G-Force tuners - Curleigh says "The robot is probably best left to a dance", while he was also impressively candid on Gibson's quality control issues.

"Sometimes perception is reality, but we're gonna change that," he says, defending Gibson's record, but Curleigh doesn't shy away from addressing the improvements that do need to be and, crucially, are being made. 

Announcing an entirely new Chief Production Officer role ("How's that for a fancy title?"), he admits that Gibson factories "lack the modern-day investment to keep up. And as great as our Luthiers and our teams in the factories are, we did not set the best conditions for success."

People are just gonna see a whole new level of quality from Gibson

But, as JC sees it, that was then, and this is now. There's a factory-floor "war on dust" to improve the quality of finishing, investment in lighting "so we can really see things," and sequential approval during production. "Each individual is responsible... rather than waiting to the end of the line to see what happens."

The result, claims Curleigh, is that "People are just gonna see a whole new level of quality from Gibson."

For all that, and much more on Gibson's vision and hopefully bright future, check out the full interview in the video, above.


NAMM 2019 - all the news

The dust is settling, but our ears are still ringing. You'll find all the stories that counted in our massive news hub. Below, enjoy our editors' findings as we regrouped at the end of the show.

Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of, 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.