Henry: First, its an honor to talk to you. This forum is a great idea on your part.
There are some great models in your current lineup - very diverse - keep up the good work.
On the Historic models, it would be nice to see you using Nitro which will check and fade like they did on the 50s models (less "plasticiser??"). Yes, this finish characteristic can be seen as a "flaw" - but to be honest, those of us shelling out that kind of money are "chasing" the original 50s models... Knowing that in 20 years, they will show some wear, but not fading and checking, is unfortunate. Screw the guys who piss and moan over a screw which is 1/32 of an inch "off" - that doesn't matter. A finish that ages and looks like the originals does, however. Even just as another finish variety (VOS, Gloss, and... ____ ).
More P90 models would be fantastic. I really think that you are doing a great job w/ the variety of "Studio" models. My first Gibson was a Studio (made sometime around when you took over at Gibson). I had it on "permanent loan" of some sort for a few years, and have since purchased 4 Gibsons (2 from the 60s, 2 new).
You've mentioned that this is in progress, but provide an assortment of needed clips for the PCB setup. I've pulled the entire board from my SG so that I can go w/ some vintage caps and handwound pickups (it sounded fine stock, but you know how we "tone chasers" are).
I'd like to give you a huge "bravo!" for maintaining the integrity of the Gibson name, and refusing to set up "Gibson Japan" or "Gibson Mexico" such as your main competitor has. Don't get me wrong - I love my Fenders - and their MIJ/MIM products are "nice" - but they degrade/cheapen the Fender name in my opinion.
Epiphone Japan - what happened? I've had 2 Elitist models, and can confidently say that they were among the best Les Pauls I've owned. If you had kept that line around, and offered them with a Nitro finish (even at $1300 or so) - they would have had steady sales.
More USA made Epiphones (original models) would be great. Not Custom Shop stuff - just regular old "USA" production and comparable in price to the Faded models (such as a Faded Wilshire, USA). And, a run of USA Casinos in the $2-2.5k range would sell like hotcakes.
Robots - interesting technology, but keep it as a "niche" kind of thing - I think that ever making it a standard option would be a bad move. That said, the continued R&D at Gibson is impressive - you've come up with some groundbreaking stuff.
R9/R0 models - I understand that flame maple is more expensive to source, but the $2k upcharge is "offensive." I know that most who are in this market can afford the extra $$, but I think that you'd sell a lot more of them if you made the upcharge $500-750 over the R8 prices. Speaking of Historics, the newer style C.O.A.s in the little black folder are great - much nicer than the old 8x11" sheet of paper.
Faded Juniors are priced higher than Faded SGs - 1/2 the pickups, 1/2 the hardware, 1/2 the electronics, less in the way of body contours..... Doesn't make sense.
You should include more "information" in the case candy w/ your guitars - one thing in particular that those who are ignorant regarding production of your guitars complain about is the "step" between the body and binding. They're not aware that you guys actually hand scrape the finish from the binding prior to clear coat. This would be something to address in the user info. "All of our bindings are scraped by hand, and you may observe that there is a ridge at the transition between the body and binding as a result. This is a sign of a hand crafted finish which you will not find on many guitars produced by our competitors" or something to that effect.
That is all I can think of at the moment... and I hope that at least some of my thoughts were helpful.
All in all, I think you're doing a great job w/ the company. There seem to be a number of disgruntled workers at Gibson who like to "make it known" that there are "problems" in the factory. You might take the time to address that issue. Great work tracking down and shutting down counterfeit production. There is an entire crew of guys over at www.mylespaul.com
who scour eBay and report these counterfeits on a daily basis - which is a testimant to how much the guys over there care about your company and maintaining the integrity of Gibson guitars.
I'm going to give a quick shoutout to Sam Catalona, owner of Outlaw Music in Missoula, MT. He is a true ambassador to Gibson and we are fortunate to have a Gibson dealer of such quality in our part of the country. His presence does a great service to you and Gibson, and he really knows his stuff. It all of your dealers had the integrity that this shop does, you would see some serious benefit. Don't forget about "the little guy."
Thanks for listening.