Kalamazoo vs Nashville plant

Reflect_ion

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There's this reverb add for a '81 custom that quite stresses the fact it's a Kalamazoo made custom. ( https://reverb.com/item/37002127-1981-gibson-les-paul-custom-silverburst-kalamazoo-made-all-the-special-80s-parts )

I quote: " Why choose this silverburst? Because it was made in Kalamazoo and has the special 80s parts! You can tell it is KZ-made by the Made in USA stamp being verticle and by the last 3 digits in the serial number being 499 or less.

If you're new to buying vintage guitars - the first Gibson factory was established in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This is where all the guitars from the early 1900s until 1975 were made. The Nashville plant opened in 1975ish and slowly less and less guitars were made in Kalamazoo until it closed in 1984. Kalamazoo employees were generally older and more experienced and you can usually tell that just by the way a KZ Les Paul feels as compared to a Nashville one. Both are great - but KZs always have just a little something extra to them and are built to a higher-standard. Not many silverbursts were made in KZ - the two biggest features that make them stand out are the black back of the headstock and the HUGE volute. "

I never knew this was a thing (Kalamazoo vs Nashville)? Is it?
I guess there are some facts in here:
- last 3 digits of serial number 499 or less
- stamp is vertical (does he mean the made in USA stamp? can't see in his picture)
- Nashville opened in 1975 and gradually took over production from Kalamazoo plant until that closed in 1984
- bigger volute? No bursts on back of the headstock?

And some salespitch I suppose:
- generally older and more expierenced employees at Kalamazoo? And thus a bit better quality?

Please enlighten me! :)

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FYI: I already read this in the FAQ Norlin History thread but it doesn't adress everything

1975 - Nashville plant starts building LPs in conjunction with Kalamazoo.
...
1984 - final production at Kalamazoo in June
...
Between 1974 and 1984 production of Gibson guitars was shifted from Kalamazoo to Nashville, Tennessee. Early Nashville-built guitars suffered from both inexperienced workers, and climate-control problems in the humid South. The Kalamazoo plant was kept going for a few years as a custom-instrument shop, but was closed in 1984.
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HardCore Troubadour

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yes those are KM characteristics.....the difference between the plants is, for the most part, all hype...especially after 1975.

It is just selling hype.

hell, it was the old timers that went to Nashville and got that plant up and running.

He's a dumbass and has this priced 100% higher than what it is worth on it's BEST day....and more than 100% on all other days.

He will probably sell it, too.......PT Barnum and all that.
 
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mudface

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Yeah,...for $8k he can pay the shipping,.... if it was completely mint and hadn't yellowed with all it's original parts and kissed by 1980s Bo Derek's ass it still wouldn't be worth $8000..... Pass.
 

Reflect_ion

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Thanks for the replies. I'm not interested in the guitar, nor do I want to start a discussion on the price :Ohno:

It's just the fact that the add stresses the higher quality of the Kalamazoo output that made me wonder. How many LP's did both sites produced each year, is that something that is known? Was one model exclusively made at one or the other site (i'm thinking the Heritage 80 perhaps, as it is a bit of a rare bird)?
 

mudface

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Thanks for the replies. I'm not interested in the guitar, nor do I want to start a discussion on the price :Ohno:

It's just the fact that the add stresses the higher quality of the Kalamazoo output that made me wonder. How many LP's did both sites produced each year, is that something that is known? Was one model exclusively made at one or the other site (i'm thinking the Heritage 80 perhaps, as it is a bit of a rare bird)?
There were a number of specialty models like Heritage 80s.... The Elite and The Artist and a few other extremely decorated models with unique features. And the usual Les Paul models..... Leo's and Guitar Trader reissues were made in Kalamazoo.... They were very busy till they closed shop.

Though i wouldn't call any of them better than Nashville made cause they were still under control of the Norlin company. So they followed the same standards and rules. Same vendors and suppliers.
 

Cozmik Cowboy

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I'm sorry, but K-zoo guitars are better. Some of the old timers went to TN to get it up & running; many were too settled & too far into their careers to want to uproot.


Both Nashville & Memphis have made very good guitars - and they have made some that weren't so good.

Oh - those old-timers who didn't move South? They bought the plant & most of the tooling and kept doing what they'd been doing since about 1905 - building great guitars. If you're in the market for real, K-zoo Gibson, but at a much saner price, you want a Heritage.
 

HardCore Troubadour

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All of the Heritage 80 line were made in Nashville....just to be clear.

others (including the "answer" to the H80-the "KM") were made in KM etc.

KM did make some of the others as they tried re-issues etc. (what we call pre-historics) etc. etc.

lots of people prefer KM guitars, I get it.

is there a real difference between 2 of the same model, same year, general production, (you know, what most people own) Les Paul Guitars, one from each plant?

Not even a little bit........

true story.


PS it is a damn shame those old timers that bought the plant did not do a better job of redesigning the headstock and from what I have been seeing @brentrocks selling lately, there's not THAT much difference in price...they are moving too, so that must be the market.

not knocking them, just saying.....
 
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mudface

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All of the Heritage 80 line were made in Nashville....just to be clear.

others (including the "answer" to the H80-the "KM") were made in KM etc.

KM did make some of the others as they tried re-issues etc. (what we call pre-historics) etc. etc.

lots of people prefer KM guitars, I get it.

is there a real difference between 2 of the same model, same year, general production, (you know, what most people own) Les Paul Guitars, one from each plant?

Not even a little bit........

true story.


PS it is a damn shame those old timers that bought the plant did not do a better job of redesigning the headstock and from what I have been seeing @brentrocks selling lately, there's not THAT much difference in price...they are moving too, so that must be the market.

not knocking them, just saying.....
I may be wrong,.. but I thought a few of those H80s were made in Kalamazoo... I know that Leo’s were made at both facilities as well as other pre-historic reissues like the Wallace and S&T versions that went into the mid 1980’s.

I have not found an Heritage brand guitar that I felt compelled to own... in fact their earliest offerings seemed to be less consistent in build quality than any Norlin. Some I played down right sucked. I have not tried any recent models,... so things may have changed.
 

jvin248

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I'm sorry, but K-zoo guitars are better. Some of the old timers went to TN to get it up & running; many were too settled & too far into their careers to want to uproot.
Both Nashville & Memphis have made very good guitars - and they have made some that weren't so good.
Oh - those old-timers who didn't move South? They bought the plant & most of the tooling and kept doing what they'd been doing since about 1905 - building great guitars. If you're in the market for real, K-zoo Gibson, but at a much saner price, you want a Heritage.
I'm not commenting on the OP listing guitar specifically but +1 Kzoo guitars are an important distinction or milestone. Most of the old timers stayed in Michigan. Some went temporarily to set the new factory up, some went full time, but most of the Nashville move was to chase cheaper wages. The Michigan factory was under one of the unions (automotive or related) while Nashville was cheap and easy, they didn't want many of the old Kzoo workers at the new factory. Much of the machinery seemed to have been abandoned for new. Somewhere in there is when they got rid of the pickup winding machines used in the 50s that Seymour Duncan snatched up for practically nothing.

Gibson had floundered on their own, bought by Norlin that tried but couldn't save it in the 70s, and then bought by "Henry J" and his crew to save the company which included a wholesale move to cheap Nashville wages. Of course he would go from brand hero to hated thirty years later, but he saved the brand from dissolving back then.

All the greatly admired 1950s Bursts were made at the Kzoo factory/processes/machinery/skills.
The same facility, equipment, processes, and some workers involved with the Heritage brand of guitars, not the Nashville ones...

.
 

mudface

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Gibson had floundered on their own, bought by Norlin that tried but couldn't save it in the 70s, and then bought by "Henry J" and his crew to save the company which included a wholesale move to cheap Nashville wages. Of course he would go from brand hero to hated thirty years later, but he saved the brand from dissolving back then.
.
This is fundamentally wrong.... Norlin brought Gibson to highest production mark by 1979..... selling more instruments than ever in Gibson History..... Norlin sold Gibson cause it was the only business under the Norlin banner that could save their ass..... sales had dropped but it was still well above what it was prior to the Norlin purchase.... Gibson didn’t need to be saved..... they needed new management..... to continue as a maker of fine instruments.... Henry J. didn’t do it on his own.... he used the employees that were already there.
 

ARandall

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I think I remember reading that initially there were teething problems with the Nashville plant, and the first few months (not sure on exact time) was a bit patchy with regard to quality.
Here is a thread on the LPF, the last post has an interesting (but unsupported) assertion on the early days at Nashville:

If its 'taboo' to link to that forum, here is the body of the post:
Nashville Tn. Plant opened in June 1975 building acoustics only , the first Les Paul model built in Nashville in big numbers was the Les Paul Pro Deluxe in mid 1976 as the plant failed with acoustics. The Les Paul Custom, Standard and Deluxe were never built till the early part of 1977 in Nashville.The Nashville bridge and the maple neck was started in the Kalamazoo plant in mid 1975.
 

Crusader

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All the greatly admired 1950s Bursts were made at the Kzoo factory...
Yes well this is the allure of an instrument made in Kalamazoo, regardless of whether they are better or not, its the original place where it all started by Orville himself (correct me if I'm wrong) Its a trivial detail really but it means a lot to some people
 

Oddball667

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Lol i seen this ad yesterday , poped up on my phone as if I just have 8k laying around for a guitar .
 

HardCore Troubadour

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I have never seen anything before that said they began making acoustics in Nashville.....not doubting it, but have never heard that before.

I know for a fact they were making LPPD's in 1975 in Nashville....they are spotty in quality at best but pick up by late 75 early 76.

Norlin actually turned Gibson around, regardless of what you see posted.
 

mudface

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And just to be actually clear, I'm not talking about the Heritage 80 line (which I had never heard of until your post); I'm talking about the Heritage Guitar Company.
:rofl: Actually I think @HardCore Troubadour was replying to my post where I mentioned Heritage 80s were made in Kalamazoo. We have always checked each other if we happen to post incorrect information..... we like to keep it factual as possible.....we don’t take it personal. We respect each other’s knowledge.

We know very well what Heritage Guitars brand is and where they’re made.
;)
 


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