Video: Gibson Destroyed Hundreds of Undersold, “Unsalvageable” Guitars with an Industrial Vehicle

August 2, 2019
Video: Gibson Destroyed Hundreds of Undersold, “Unsalvageable” Guitars with an Industrial Vehicle

In late June, an ex-Gibson employee leaked a strange video of hundreds of Firebird X guitars being destroyed by the company itself.

The brand new guitars were allegedly fresh out of their packaging (you can see their boxes in the distance), and according to the ex-employee, named BJ Wilkes, they were destroyed in an effort to combat poor sales.

“[Gibson’s new investors] were trying to clean up the mess before the end of the fiscal year,” he explained in an interview with The Guitologist. “Gibson literally could not sell these guitars and they were on the books.”

The company responded to the video in an official statement, saying, “The Firebird X destruction video that surfaced months ago was an isolated batch of Firebird X models built in 2009-2011 which were unsalvageable and damaged with unsafe components. This isolated group of Firebird X models were unable to be donated for any purpose and were destroyed accordingly.”

As for why the guitars couldn’t be donated to schools or nonprofits, Wilkes said the reason was two-fold: the technology in the guitars was wonky and “based on Windows 98 or something,” but moreso the company’s culture dictated any instruments with even the smallest defect were not to be shared with the world.

“Under [former CEO Henry Juszkiewicz], nobody was allowed to [donate guitars] for the fear of losing their job — that’s firmly ingrained in the company now,” he said. Later adding, “I’ve seen them take, daily, 10, 20 ES guitars that were painted and ready to go, and just cut them up because there was some teeny-tiny little blemish.”

However, this hasn’t been the first roadblock for Gibson HQ. In February 2018, news broke that the company was facing bankruptcy. Since then Gibson has worked on “monetizing assets” to refinance the struggling guitar brand.

Watch the video of the guitar destruction below: