Premier Guitar last toured Nashville’s Gibson USA factory in 2012, so we recently went back inside for a tour of today’s facility. Guided by master luthier Jim DeCola and chief merchant officer Cesar Gueikian, John Bohlinger put on the safety goggles to get a full rundown of how the entire manufacturing process works, starting at the rough mill. We see how Gibson’s skilled builders handle intricate body work, route channeling, binding, neck fitting, finishing, and everything in between.
In 2018, the ES model production line moved from Memphis back to Nashville, so all electric Gibson guitars are now made in Music City (acoustics are made at a factory in Bozeman, Montana). Fun fact: The Gibson factory still uses machinery from the original plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan. So the sides of a 1958 ES-335 were pressed by the same machine that presses a 2019 ES-335’s sides. Technology does the heavy lifting, but humans are still integral to the lutherie process, wrapping binding in specific sequences, aligning and gluing parts, spraying finishes, and more.