It Might Get Loud on the Gibson Guitar Factory Tour

Posted by Holly Whitfield | December 1st 2010 7234 0

The making of a Gibson guitar is not a speedy process. From start to finish, every guitar that comes out of Gibson’s Memphis factory takes about three and a half weeks to make.

When I made my reservations for the Gibson factory tour, I thought that it would be like most factories – a loud room with tons of machines and a few workers to make sure that nothing went awry. That’s not the case at all. The reason the guitars take so long to make is that with the exception of one computerized step, they’re made entirely by hand.

Gibson Guitar Factory, Memphis, Tenn.

Even though most of the process is done by hand, there are apparently very few mistakes. Only about four percent of the Memphis factory’s guitars have flaws. Because Gibson is big on perfection (and doesn’t sell factory seconds), any defective guitars are shredded in a big bandsaw.

The 45 minute long tour through Gibson’s Memphis factory follows the making of all of the company’s hollow and semi-hollow body electric guitars. The inside of the factory isn’t as dusty as I thought it would be. It’s kept humid by ceiling-mounted misters that also help keep all of the sawdust on the ground. It also smells good, all earthy and sweet and wet.

I don’t want to give too much away about the process, but I will say that it’s pretty cool to watch the factory’s posse of hipster dudes sanding and assembling guitars. (Fun fact: only six of Gibson’s Memphis employees – the ones who assemble the electronics and string the instruments –  are required to know how to play the guitar.)

The factory tours run Monday – Saturday, on the hour from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tickets are $10. No photography is allowed inside the factory, so leave your cameras at home. Also, know that you’ll get to wear some mandatory super sexy safety goggles. Reservations aren’t required for the tour, but they’re highly recommended as there are a limited number of spaces every hour.

Go There:

Gibson Guitar Factory

145 Lt. George Lee Ave
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 544-7998


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Comments

  1. Morris Engler says:

    Hi! I am going to be in the Memphis/Nashville area on Jan. 18-22/11. I would love to be able to take a tour of your manufacturing facilities.

    I have owned a “ 57 Les Paul Jr., Tobacco burst. ( I wish I still had it, It was an awesome sounding guitar!) An ‘80’s Les Paul Custom. For the last 30+ years, I have owned a 335 with an original Bigsby Tail Piece, Tobacco/Sunburst. Serial # 69535.

    It’s a players instrument, not a collectors. The finish is weather checked and worn completely off on the back of the neck, but it plays and sounds terrific!

    I hope I can see how the guitars are made. It would be extremely interesting.

    Thanks

    Morry Engler

  2. Paul says:

    Be sure to know kids under 5 are not permitted.

  3. Barb Taylor says:

    My family is visiting Ten. July 8th. My son just purchased a Gibson and we thought it would be interesting to take a tour. I have not been able to find out anything about tours at the plant in Nashville. Could you please give me some info on tours there and times and price if possible.

    Thank You

    Barb

  4. ronald hopkins says:

    Hi Gibson people,

    My son is a axe player and my father played and owned a Gibson and played all his life, On June 15, 2013 my son wants to tour your factory in Nashville, TN. I have searched all possible web sites and cannot find info regarding Tours of your Nashville facility.

    Please email any information so that we can see your great stuff in Nashville.

    Thanks,

     

    Ron Hopkins

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