Earlier this week, Gibson Brands revealed an innovative new service designed to inspire guitarists to undertake basic maintenance at home. The Virtual Guitar Tech service connects Gibson, Epiphone, Kramer and Steinberger owners with an approved guitar tech who will talk them through basic set-up and maintenance tasks in real-time via video chat.
We caught up with Gibson CMO Cesar Gueikian to discuss what inspired this innovative and never-more-relevant concept, how much they’ll be comfortable letting you do at home, and why fixing your guitar helps your form a more significant emotional connection with the instrument…
When did you come up with the idea of the Virtual Guitar Tech service?
“The idea was generated during our leadership daily briefs, which I established in response to the pandemic. We all shared how the impact of quarantine, and having to adapt to work from home, gave us an opportunity to take care of our guitars. That was when the idea hit us: our artists and fans are at home, we have professional techs around the world who speak multiple languages and tech for many famous artists and we have the technology tools to deliver a great virtual experience, so we put a team together to make this happen.”
What do you hope that users will get out of it?
“A properly set up instrument enhances the playing experience significantly; it is functional and fun to play. It can seem intimidating or technical to set up and maintain your instrument on your own depending on the condition of the guitar, but we believe with enough guidance and instruction, the intimidation can be replaced with a deeper connection with your guitar, in a way reconnecting with the reason why you fell in love with your guitar. And we take that seriously, we know there is an emotional connection between our fans and their Gibson guitars.
How did you go about recruiting techs to be part of this program?
“We have a team of in-house experts and techs that we call product specialists. It’s a global team that covers multiple languages. And when we communicated the kick-off for this initiative, they all stepped forward contributing ideas, embracing our 126-year old start-up mode way of working to make it a reality.”
Is there a limit to the level of job that your techs are comfortable with talking someone through virtually?
“It depends on the fan’s comfort level and experience which will define the level of services we’ll be able to perform. Most beginners will be able to successfully remove old strings, clean their instrument, condition the fretboard, install new strings and tune their instrument with the help of our technicians. If the fan is uncomfortable performing more advanced tasks like adjusting the truss rod, pickup height, action and intonation, or if the instrument needs more extensive repair work, the technician will provide counsel on how to get it professionally serviced.”
What happens when a virtual tech encounters a problem that can’t be solved at home?
“There are more technical aspects that will be beyond the player’s reach at home. In that event, we will refer them to our local authorized dealer repair network as well as to our Gibson Repair and Restoration Shop, which is our in-house team. Our aim with the Gibson Virtual Guitar Tech program is to simply give guitarists another avenue, and part of the program is a consultation at the outset to determine what the best course of action is for them.”
What are your long-term plans for the VGT service? Once the pandemic is over will it carry on?
“The Virtual Guitar Tech service was designed as an outreach benefit for all our fans and guitar players around the world to take care of their guitars while we are all staying at home. We want everyone to pull their guitar out from under the bed, get a basic tune-up, enjoy playing guitar and maybe even encourage them to make some music of their own.
We encourage our guitar fans to try the service out and give us feedback. We love hearing from our fans, we know how much they love their guitars.
“Personally, I love every one of my guitars. I have a real emotional connection with each one of them and I will choose to play one or another depending on my state of mind. I have the benefit of knowing how much effort goes into hand-crafting our guitars. I have a deep appreciation for how involved of a process it is. If you haven’t watched it, I encourage you to check out The Process on GibsonTV to learn about how our guitars are hand-crafted in the USA.
“This project means a lot to me personally and from all of us at Gibson, we hope our fans around the world take advantage of it. The Virtual Guitar Tech Service will help them take care of their beloved guitars while they are at home, and we will look at ways to continue to improve and grow this offering.”
Learn more about the Gibson Virtual Guitar Tech Service at gibson.com.
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