The maker of the Gibson guitar, omnipresent for decades on the American music stage, is filing for bankruptcy protection after wrestling for years with debt.
A pre-negotiated reorganization plan filed this week will allow Gibson Brands Inc. to continue operations with $135 million in financing from lenders.
Gibson guitars have been esteemed by generations of guitar legends. After Chuck Berry died, his beloved cherry-red Gibson guitar was bolted to the inside of his coffin lid. David Bowie favored the 1989 Gibson L4 when he fronted Tin Machine. Slash swears by them.
“It is one of the most widely recognized brand names on planet Earth,” said George Gruhn of Gruhn Guitars, a world-famous vintage instrument store.
Founded in 1894 and based in Nashville, Tennessee, Gibson has the top market share in premium electric guitars. It sells more than 170,000 guitars a year in more than 80 countries, including more than 40 percent of all electric guitars that cost more than $2,000, according to a filing.
The company has already sold off some noncore brands, acquisitions that contributed to its burdensome debt load. Gibson has begun the liquidation process for its debt-plagued, struggling international Gibson Innovations division, which sells headphones, speakers, accessories and other electronics.
“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,” Henry Juszkiewicz, Gibson chairman and CEO, said.