The Gibson Guitar Corporation Got Its Start 120 Years Ago in Kalamazoo
The Gibson Guitar Corporation got its start in Kalamazoo way back in 1902.
Even though the headquarters for Gibson Guitar Corporation, now known as Gibson Brands, Inc., is in Nashville, Tennessee, the company actually started right here in good ole Michigan.
Back in 1902, instrument maker Orville Gibson founded the company which was originally named Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co. Ltd. in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Gibson started the company to make mandolin-family instruments. In the early years, Gibson was responsible for inventing the first archtop guitars that were based on the arched tops of violins. In the 1930s, Gibson was also making flattop guitars and made the first commercially available hollow-body electric guitars.
Up until 1974, Gibson guitars were produced in Kalamazoo, but the company began moving its manufacturing to Tennessee. The Kalamazoo facility produced acoustic and some semi-acoustic guitars until 1984 as most of the production was done in Nashville. Some of the Gibson employees that did not want to move to Nashville stayed in Michigan and founded a new company with Heritage Guitars.
Gibson has had its share of ups and downs throughout the 120 years, including lawsuits and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2018. Despite all of that, Gibson Brands, Inc. is alive and kicking. In 2020, Gibson launched an online TV network focused on guitars called Gibson TV. In July of 2021, Gibson launched Gibson Records with a bang with Slash feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators and the recent release of their fourth studio album, 4.
Gibson still produces one of the best-known guitars in the world, the Gibson Les Paul. Check out the footage below of the making of an exclusive Slash Les Paul.