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Gibson, operator of Memphis guitar factory, files for bankruptcy protection

Guitarist Magazine  Getty Images

The maker of some of America's most iconic guitars has filed for bankruptcy. Juszkiewicz purchased a line of Japanese consumer electronics in 2014 as part of a plan to rebrand and relaunch Gibson Guitars as a "music lifestyle" company. Slash swears by them.

Founded in 1894 and based in Nashville, Tennessee, Gibson has the top market share in premium electric guitars. The bankruptcy filing includes a turnaround plan to refocus on guitar building. The company remains hopeful that they can re-emerge from bankruptcy intact, but with reported debts of between $100 million and $500 million on the books owed to numerous different creditors, it remains to be seen whether they will be able to pull it off.

But in the past two decades, the Nashville company also started creating interesting concepts that ultimately flopped in the marketplace. It also sells studio monitors, headphones, turntables and other musical instruments.

"The decision to re-focus on our core business, Musical Instruments, combined with the significant support from our noteholders, we believe will assure the company's long-term stability and financial health", Juszkiewicz said.

The company was able to reach an arrangement with major constituents to its musical instruments business, but not the consumer-electronics business, Fox said.

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"The brand name and company's reputation for making guitars is tarnished, but not dead by any means, and it's very much capable of being resuscitated", Gruhn said.

The roll call of legends who have played Gibson guitars is sufficient to fill a book! A short run of 80 Gibson Lucilles was launched to coincide with King's 80th birthday, in 2005.

Various factors may be affecting the shrinking electric guitar market. The later big-bodied Gibson jazz guitars have been in the arsenal of many great players since then, such as Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass.

And the folk-revival of the 1950s and 1960s wouldn't have sounded quite so mellow without battalions of steel-string Gibson acoustic guitars among the Martins and Guilds. Gibson had also developed a broken relationship with some retailers, a number of whom have stopped selling the brand, citing unmanageable demands that range from annual credit checks to upfront orders for a year's merchandise.

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