Gibson is coming under scrutiny after a recently leaked video captured the manufacturer destroying hundreds of seemingly usable guitars.

The video, released by ex-Gibson employee BJ Wilkes, shows a large collection of new Firebird X instruments being crushed by a construction vehicle. Wilkes worked for Gibson for six years, handling maintenance and facilities duties.

According to the former employee, Gibson chose to destroy a large amount of Firebird X guitars, after the model was met with poor sales. “Gibson literally could not sell these guitars and they were on the books,” Wilkes explained to YouTube channel Guitologist. He added that the company’s new investors were “trying to clean up the mess before the end of the fiscal year.”

The guitar giant has fallen on tough times in the past few years. Mounting debt led to layoffs, the removal of former CEO Henry Juszkiewicz and an eventual bankruptcy filing. The Firebird X model was conceptualized under Juszkiewicz.

“[The Firebird X] was a horrible guitar, with too much technology all based on Windows 98 or something,” Wilkes revealed. He also noted that Gibson routinely destroyed guitars rather than repurposing them: “I’ve seen them take, daily, 10, 20 ES guitars that were painted and ready to go, and just cut ’em up because there was some teeny-tiny little blemish.”

As the destruction video spread online, many openly wondered why Gibson did not donate the guitars to a worthy cause. The manufacturer addressed those concerns in a statement, asserting that the video represented “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.”

Gibson also announced a commitment to give away “a guitar a day away over the next 1,000 days.” Their hope is that this effort will reaffirm “Gibson’s commitment to giving back, helping under-served music education programs, empowering music culture and encouraging the creation of music.”


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