Gibson started producing the S-1 in mid-1974, but released it on the market in 1975. Its production lifespan was 1974-1980. Like the Gibson Marauder, the S-1 was an attempt to break through into the single-coil guitar market. It too consisted of a flat Les Paul -like body with a maple Flying V neck bolted on. Unlike the Marauder, however, the S-1 featured three "see-thru" single-coil pickups designed by Bill Lawrence, with fairly elaborate circuitry to generate humbucking and single-coil pick-up sounds. Just like the Marauders, the S-1 all had Schaller made "Harmonica" ("tune-o-matic" style) bridges and the standard Gibson stopbar tailpiece. The S-1 had one 2 way toggle switch and a "chicken head" 4 position rotary switch. This 4 way rotary switch made it possible to use the pick-ups in 4 different ways: 1) neck + middle, 2), middle pick-up + bridge pick-up, 3) all three together, and 4) the neck and bridge out of phase. In the down position the 2 way toggle switch bypassed the entire 4 position rotary switch circuit and made one straight connection to the bridge pick-up, which resulted in a sound to that of the Fender Esquire (Telecaster in bridge only position). The potentiometers are volume and tone. The sound was similar to that of a Fender Stratocaster or a Fender Telecaster.
The Gibson S-1 was initially endorsed by Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones, as well as Carlos Santana. Like the Marauder, the nontraditional construction and Fender-like characteristics contributed to the unpopularity and demise of the model in the early 1980s.