The iconic guitar-maker Gibson that has been used by pop stars as diverse as Bob Marley and Guns N' Roses axeman Slash could face bankruptcy.

The US solid-body electric guitar firm, which also owns the Les Paul brand, has to pay off $375m (£267m) of debt held by creditors in six months. On top of this a further $145m (£103m) in bank loans becomes due on 23 July, according to the Nashville Post.

Bill Lawrence, the firm's chief financial officer, left after less than a year in post, leaving the business searching for assets it can sell in order to pay off its loans.

The company recently sold a former Baldwin Piano warehouse in Nashville for $6.4m. It also is also trying to sell a building owned by another of its brands, Valley Arts, also in Nashville, which is projected to bring in another $11m.

The firm, founded in 1902 in Michigan, has annual sales of more than $1bn, but it needs to find a lot more cash to meet commitments that fall due in the summer.

Gibson's current owner and chief executive Henry Juszkiewicz said: "By monetising these assets, we can reduce debt and generate funds to contribute to business segments that are thriving. It is important to our business to get back to the financial success we had to achieve the best financial terms in the refinancing of our company."

But Kevin Cassidy, a senior credit officer at Moody's, a credit rating agency, says the firm faces three options.

Bob Marley
Reggae icon Bob Marley also used Gibson guitars Getty

Cassidy said it could try to refinance its debt, but time is short and that option may be expensive. The guitar business could sell part of itself to its creditors in exchange for cancelling all, or part, of its debt. Or, the firm could file for bankruptcy protection, as it bids to turn itself around.

"This year is critical and they are running out of time — rapidly," said Cassidy. "And if this ends in bankruptcy, he [Juszkiewicz] will give up the entire company."

He added: "Some type of restructuring will be necessary. The core business is a very stable business, and a sustainable one. But you have a balance sheet problem and an operational problem."