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2006 Gibson Homecoming Parts 1, 2 and 3 From Old Forum


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Thought I'd transfer this to the new forum before the old one is shut down. The photos wouldn't transfer without reposting them, so I didn't transfer them.





I’ve just returned home from our first pilgrimage to Bozeman and will try to give you an overview. Shrimer has already provided you with a few of the details and I’m sure that others will be adding their accounts, once they return home as well.


Before anything is said, I have to express my sincere thanks to Gibson and especially to Bill Gonder, who was instrumental in putting this event together.


I honestly don’t know where to begin, other than telling you that it was the most incredible experience. We arrived on Thursday afternoon. After checking in at the Gran Tree, most of us met in the Gran Tree lobby for a meet and greet. We were finally able to put faces with the names. We then went to the Montana Ale Factory, where we had a very nice dinner inside of what looked to be a remodeled railway station. After dinner we walked across the street to Music Villa, the home of the nicest collection of Gibson guitars that I’ve ever seen.


I’m sure I’m going to leave out some names somewhere along the way, and I’ll apologize in advance for that now. All of the people at Music Villa were extremely knowledgeable about Gibson guitars and went out of their way to help us. In particular, I would like to thank Fred and Paul Decker and Geno Kreis.


While at Music Villa, we attended a guitar clinic by Wayne Johnson. He’s an excellent guitar player, and it didn’t take long for most of us to realize how much room for improvement that we all have.


Friday morning began with another short meeting in the lobby of the Gran Tree, where we divided up into groups for the tour of the Gibson facility. The tours lasted much longer than planned, mainly due to the number of questions that everyone asked.


It should now be mentioned that Gibson answered all of our questions and allowed us complete access. We were permitted to take pictures of anything that we wished and nothing was off limits.



Jason Jones gave the tours and he was absolutely amazing. His knowledge of the Gibson facility and manufacturing procedures was unbelievable.


It should also be noted that every employee that we encountered at Gibson was very nice, friendly and professional. They are also the hardest working individuals that you’ll ever meet. They all appeared eager to have us there and to show us how they manufacture Gibson guitars. I can’t tell you the number of times that individual employees came up to us and thanked us for taking the time to travel to Bozeman and see their facility.


One of the highlights of the tour was when we were allowed to try our hands at applying a sunburst finish to a guitar, under the watchful eye of master sprayer, Van Feldner. Although there was some talent in the group, most of us won’t be quitting our day jobs soon.


Another highlight was the Custom room, where Val and Ren Ferguson showed us some examples of custom inlays. Val also showed us her “Wolf Guitar”, which is arguably one of the finest custom guitars ever made.




We also had the opportunity to ask questions of Bill Gonder, who answered all of them. We were also joined by Glenn Franzen (Dealer Product Specialist) and Danny Hoeffer, the NW sales representative from Gibson. I will address some of the specific questions in a separate post at a later date.


After the tours, most of us went back to Music Villa and drooled over all of the Gibson guitars that they had for sale. I think I counted about 40 different Gibson acoustics for sale in their store.


Gibson provided a hospitality room at the Gran Tree and we met there after supper. We all had a chance to finally talk to each other in detail and try out each other’s guitars.


Ren Ferguson even joined in on the fun and showed us that he doesn’t only make fine guitars, but he can also play them very well too.


We also had drawings where Gibson gave away some denim jackets and t-shirts. Hoss was also the winner of the new Gibson J-165, which was donated by Gibson.


The hardest working guy of the evening had to be Glenn Franzen from Gibson. He changed numerous sets of guitar strings during the evening for anyone wishing to have a new set of strings installed on their guitar. He also shared his technique with us so that we can now all be excellent string changers (although I still hate to do it). Many thanks to Glenn for joining us during the Homecoming and for all of his hard work.


Saturday included some free time for people to explore the Bozeman vicinity. We met at Music Villa on Saturday afternoon, where Ren Ferguson gave a very informative talk about many different aspects of Gibson guitars and answered more questions. Thank you, Ren, for your invaluable insight and eagerness to share your knowledge of Gibson guitars with us.


We again met at the hospitality room at the Gran Tree, where Gibson provided a buffet supper. We had more opportunities to talk with one another and to again examine more guitars. Glenn Franzen was also there and changed more strings.


We ended the evening by having an open discussion where we made some initial plans for this event to continue next year. After saying our farewells, it was then time to head our separate ways and as they say in the west, “till we meet again”.

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