Gibson USA factory tour

Bill Hicklin

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This video doesn't give me much confidence about the quality of the guitars. Not much craftsmanship here, its all mechanised, done quickly, by factory workers. Explains why its a hit and miss for quality.
Like it was different "back in the day?" It wasn't like the Kalamzoo factory was staffed by Lutherie Monks who had finished arduous years of apprenticeship in the remote Guitar Monastery in the Himalayas. With a couple of specialist exceptions, it was staffed by assembly-line workers who could just as easily have been over in Detroit bolting on bumpers.

Money quote: "From sanding I was transferred up to electronics on the second floor. I put the knobs on the- those things in boxes, what did they call 'em? Oh yeah, amplifiers."
 

BRMarshall

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I'm planning on being on vacation in Tennessee mid July and plan do the factory tour. There are very mixed reviews on yelp. It seems there are only about 2 tours during the week that you actually see people working. I'll post back on my impression and how it compares with other tours (breweries, distilleries, wineries).
 

BRMarshall

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We made it to Memphis and took the 1 pm tour on a Friday. I had made reservations a couple weeks before which was fortunate as there were signs that the tours for the rest of the day were sold out (but some people seemed to be on the waiting list & I think some made it). The tour was interesting (they do strongly discourage photos & video!). Our guide took us through the process of making guitars with several stops to explain the progression. It was loud & she was difficult to hear at times, some samples were passed around to help illustrate various stages of the process, & questions seemed to be answered well. I was impressed with how much work was done by hand. It was particularly interesting to see a vintage sunburst being sprayed.
I was part of a group of 6, family & spouses. I am the only one who (currently) plays guitar, but everyone spoke of how interesting it was and that they were glad to have taken it. It seems they only make hollow & semi hollow body guitars in the Memphis facility. Our guide said they make the Les Pauls in Nashville & it seemed like she said the acoustics are made in Kalamazoo (remember it was pretty loud as machinery was operating). It seems the Memphis factory is the only one that provides tours.
The gift shop had a great many Gibson guitars, both acoustic and electric. They seemed fine with people handling & playing them. There were some typical items for sale (shirts, picks, books, etc.), but Gibson seems not to have capitalized on their brand as effectively as other iconic companies such as Fender & Harley Davidson.
The Gibson factory tour was very similar to other "factory tours" I've taken, only louder and no samples at the end.
 

Photojazz

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I just viewed the utube Nashville tour. Let me just say, it gives me a whole new respect for my instruments. Amazing quantity and quality of work goes into every one. Be proud of our US Manufactured guitars, some of the best artisans in the world. I believe that.

Watching a burst be hand sprayed in layers by color, how difficult would that be at changing angles. Amazing!!!

http://youtu.be/VbU1R4KDymw

Doug
 

Hanover Fist

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Like it was different "back in the day?" It wasn't like the Kalamzoo factory was staffed by Lutherie Monks who had finished arduous years of apprenticeship in the remote Guitar Monastery in the Himalayas. With a couple of specialist exceptions, it was staffed by assembly-line workers who could just as easily have been over in Detroit bolting on bumpers.
I've taken the tour in Kalamazoo several times (Heritage Guitars are made there), and the guitars are still hand made--no CNC machines. In fact they still use the same equipment--along with a few of the same employees--that built the Gibsons in the '50s.
 

guidothepimmp

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just came back from Memphis and done the tour. i really enjoyed it. BRMarshall nailed the jist of it. our guides name was Kyle. he was quite good. confirmation that they said only Memphis currently does tours.

this tour gave me a new appreciation for some of the things i read complaints about. whilst there is a fair whack of machine work, much of the finishing is done by hand.

Gibson gained a new fan. i walked away with a new respect for the guitars and largely due to th staff and their passion.

mind you, pretty much everything musical in Memphis was epic
 

monkfish

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Did the Memphis tour while on holiday last year. Even my wife enjoyed it. :)
 

LPJNoob

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Do they charge for these tours? I would guess with the news of their impending demise, these tours would be pretty popular?
 


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