We must be in Memphis – we took a quick swing by the legendary Sun Studios, snapped a few photos, and continued on to the factory.  The sign to not stand in the street seems like solid advice.

 

 

 

The Memphis factory is very unusual as it is located right in the downtown core of Memphis, near Beale Street and the basketball arena.  It’s very unusual to have a manufacturing plant in such a location, but the city of Memphis knew Gibson is a very important part of the city, and made it happen.  A really great move.

 

 

Here are a couple of views of the factory from above.

 

 

 

Got my pass and ready to go!

 

 

First, a sneak peek at some of the guitars to come.  The fantastic ES Les Pauls come from the Memphis factory, and I really, really hope these next two guitars are coming out soon.  A gold top P-90 and an absolutely incredible semi-hollow Les Paul black beauty!

 

 

 

This is too cool; a super lightweight prototype short scale Les Paul bass – it weighed nothing!  This one was unfinished with pencil markings still on the top.

 

 

Chris Isaak drew this ode to Scotty Moore on the wall at some point:

 

 

Here are the separate plys of wood used on the semi-hollows before they are glued together.  The two outside layers are maple, the core is poplar.  I was surprised to find out that for signature models like the Warren Haynes, they actually make sure the grain of the top ply is similar to the artist’s original guitar.  This means evaluating each piece and storing them in advance until they are ready to start producing that model.  Incredible!

 

 

This is one of the old machines from the Kalamazoo factory.  It is a press that glues and forms the tops of the guitars.  

 

 

Here’s an ES Les Paul body being made.  Even though these are Les Paul sized, they are made exactly the same way as a full-sized semi-hollow like an ES-335.

 

 

Here’s a beautiful batch of green Gibsons waiting for final completion.

 

 

I didn’t know this, but the Gibson semi-hollow sources their own custom posts from CTS that are made to this factory’s exacting specifications.  Each pot’s value is individually measured and is matched to ensure each pickup is seeing the same value from both the volume and tone pots!  The care and attention to detail in the factory is amazing.

 

 

And of course later that night….more barbeque!

 

 

That completes our tour of the Gibson factories.  We are looking forward to seeing more great guitars from all of these factories as soon as we can get them! A special thanks to all at Gibson who made this amazing trip possible.