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Gibson Factory Tour


fortyearspickn
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I thought some of the newbies might enjoy seeing the actual production process in Bozeman.

(And even some of the interlopers who play electrics and drop in from time to time ! )

Helps provide context and perspective when we get threads questioning how mechanized the process is, etc.

Two years old - so I'm sure it's still relevant.

 

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I was lucky enough to have Jeremy Morton take me on a personal tour of the factory a couple years ago. I was amazed at what a relatively small physical plant the Gibson shop is and how few people were working the "line". Every one of them were obviously craftspersons. One fellow was in the middle of building a trans-blue J200 and saw me walking by and signalled me over and said "You HAVE to see this guitar I'm working on!" It was a custom shop model (everyone works on custom shop guitars, the custom part is in the process, attention to details and the materials used). I was very impressed by the personal attention to each and every guitar going through that shop.

 

I'm not sure of the numbers, but I expect if Boseman is turning out a hundred guitars a day, Taylor and Martin are turning out 1000's. It does make these Gibsons special.

 

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Then there was this amazing quilted maple back/sides on this Hummingbird that had a "root beer" kind of stain finish that was wild:

 

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And here is Jeremy with a guitar that still needs some finishing touches:

 

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Edited by drathbun
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Its actually pretty cool to watch... I got to walk the floor many times without a tour Guide.. and Hang out in the Custom Shop back in the early days of Bozeman.. it was pretty cool... Thanks to a few friends down south there..

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Pretty cool, thank you for sharing Forty years P.

 

Awesome to see, and I could imagine working there looking at all the great things to come out of the factory. I worked in a bike shop for awhile, and after a couple years of figuring things out, pieced together the perfect bike for me. If I worked at Gibson - I'd probably spend more money on guitars than i would make. I bet some of those folks are some serious players.

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Pretty cool, thank you for sharing Forty years P.

 

Awesome to see, and I could imagine working there looking at all the great things to come out of the factory. I worked in a bike shop for awhile, and after a couple years of figuring things out, pieced together the perfect bike for me. If I worked at Gibson - I'd probably spend more money on guitars than i would make. I bet some of those folks are some serious players.

 

 

No idea of the rules at Montana, but at our local guitar factory, Maton, their video claims that every single person that works there plays guitar! Their (Maton) factory tour video said thst everyone that works there is allowed to make ONE custom guitar for themself after a certain amount of years service. I imagine it would be similar at Gibson?

 

It might be like the people who work at the chocolate factory sick of the sight of chocolate......

 

 

BluesKing777.

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It might be like the people who work at the chocolate factory sick of the sight of chocolate......

 

BluesKing777.

 

. . . or it could be a case of where the heavy aroma of chocolate smells like money- bills getting paid, people getting fed, etc. But the quick visit with the person doing the pickguards, t = 7:54, (when Don asked her how long she’d been doing this, did he say her name, “Chris”?) . . . “about 15 years”- was there just a trace of sadness as she takes a drink, and tilts the beverage for just a little more at the end? Don quickly moves on to the next bullet item in the tour. Maybe if she knew how her work was fawned on by many here at the Forum, she might be in for a happy surprise.

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One thing in the video that was pretty impressive was the presses they use to make the sides of the guitars. Looks like big hydraulic things. I can't imagine this is how they went about it back in the early days (or was it). Does anyone have input on how the sides of guitars were fabricated when Gibson first started making guitars?

 

Thanks all for any input - rgds - billroy

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One thing in the video that was pretty impressive was the presses they use to make the sides of the guitars. Looks like big hydraulic things. I can't imagine this is how they went about it back in the early days (or was it). Does anyone have input on how the sides of guitars were fabricated when Gibson first started making guitars?

 

Thanks all for any input - rgds - billroy

 

If I recall the machinery to bend/shape the 2 side pieces are original and came from Kalamazoo.

Heat and steam I believe are used.

Here's a good article. https://westfarthingwoodworks.com/bending-acoustic-guitar-sides/

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If I recall the machinery to bend/shape the 2 side pieces are original and came from Kalamazoo.

Heat and steam I believe are used.

Here's a good article. https://westfarthingwoodworks.com/bending-acoustic-guitar-sides/

 

 

Heat and stem do remarkable things to wood. When I was into wooden boats a lifetime ago, we used a steam box to prepare up to 2x2 (50mmX50mm) oak frames for bending in ridiculously tight radii. With fresh, straight-grained white oak, a half hour in a steam box would make the wood about as flexible as a strip of 1/8" plywood. You had about a minute after pulling it out of the steam box to bend it and clamp it to a frame buck. If the frame was long--say 10' or more--it was a two person job to get the clamps in place before the oak completely lost its flexibility.

 

By comparison, bending 1/8" guitar ribs over a jig is a piece of cake. Instrument makers have been bending wood for musical instruments this way for hundreds of years. Ain't much new under the sun.

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If I recall the machinery to bend/shape the 2 side pieces are original and came from Kalamazoo.

Heat and steam I believe are used.

Here's a good article. https://westfarthingwoodworks.com/bending-acoustic-guitar-sides/

 

thanks fortyearspickin - it's a very good article, seems like a do-able process.

 

Leads to lots of existential thoughts - do I attempt to make a guitar, and if so - for what purpose. I'm sure I could make something decent (several tries in) but a decent home made guitar is what, a decent homemade guitar? wont replace my desire for the 40 or so Gibby's I'd like to have before I investigate other brands, much less homemade stuff. hmmm - look at that hill over there, it's just there, I should climb it.

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