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(formerly Gibson Guitar Corp.) is an American manufacturer of guitars and other instruments, now based in Nashville, Tennessee. Gibson invented archtop guitars by constructing the same type of carved, arched tops used on violins.The company was formerly known as Gibson Guitar Corp. By the 1930s, the company was also making flattop acoustic guitars, as well as one of the first commercially available hollow-body electric guitars, used and popularized by Charlie Christian.He led an expansion of the guitar line with new guitars such as the "Les Paul" guitar introduced in 1952 and designed by Les Paul, a popular musician in the 1950s and also a pioneer in music technology.The Les Paul was offered in Custom, Standard, Special, and Junior models.In the mid-50s, the Thinline series was produced, which included a line of thinner guitars like the Byrdland.In 1944, Gibson was bought by Chicago Musical Instruments (CMI) which was acquired in 1969 by Panama-based conglomerate, Ecuadorian Company Limited (E. L.) that changed its name in the same year to Norlin Corporation.Many observers see this as the beginning of an era of mismanagement.
Gibson was owned by the Norlin corporation from 1969 to 1986. Initially, the company produced only Orville Gibson's original designs.
In 1986, the company was acquired by its present owners. In 1936 Gibson introduced their first "Electric Spanish" model, the ES-150 followed by other electric instruments like steel guitars, banjos and mandolins.