Gibson Guitar Factory Memphis, Tennessee is a museum, concert hall, event venue, and tourist attraction. It is home of the Historic National Laboratory for Acoustic Research of the US Army Signal Corps Laboratories and hosts a vast collection of Gibson’s historic acoustic instruments that includes many rare instruments. On display are historical photos, documents and memorabilia from Gibson’s early days in Kalamazoo, Michigan to its relocation to Memphis in 1953. The factory offers tours and activities such as playing a signature model guitar or witnessing an instrument being carved from solid wood.
Gibson Guitar Factory Memphis has built an innovative reputation for itself by establishing itself as a modern music destination with its amazing collection of interactive exhibits. Tourists can learn about all things Gibson from guitars and their history, to guitars and their technology. Gibson Memphis also showcases interactive exhibits including Gibson’s signature Les Paul Studio guitar that allows you to see how the guitar is made in layers.
Gibson Guitar Factory, then known as the “National Music Company” was created by Orville Gibson in 1902. On November 25, 1915 the factory caught fire and was completely destroyed by firemen who were unable to extinguish it in time. In 1917, the factory reopened with 500 workers producing over 50 instruments a day. In 1925, the company changed its name to Gibson Mandolin and in 1929 the Gibson Guitar Company was incorporated. The Gibson Guitar Company was sold to the National Music Company in 1953. In 1957 National Music was renamed Gibson Guitar Corp and in 1989, it became the Gibson Guitar Corporation. The Gibson factory closed on April 22, 2013 due to a decline of musical instrument sales and financial challenges. It reopened as a museum on June 28, 2017.
Gibson Memphis is located in the Duling Hill neighborhood of Memphis, Tennessee. Its address is 1500 Van Buren Street. Other Gibson factories were located in Kalamazoo and Nashville, Tennessee. The building was constructed by the National Music Company, later Gibson Guitar Company, to house a wood-working department with 600 employees. It was designed along the lines of a factory and was connected to a power house and running water. The building is a five-story brick structure in the Colonial style, with a basement. Employees worked on the first floor and did not have to climb stairs for their work. The factory was located near railroads for shipping purposes.
The site is said to be at least partially haunted and it is said that one can still hear factory workers hammering away. One of the spirits at the location has been identified as “Mr Gibson”. There are many strange occurrences at the factory such as an occasional chair moving on its own and unexpected touches from invisible hands.
The factory also has a secret tunnel used to transport wood from the nearby Gibson Woods area for use in manufacturing instruments. It is said that professional guitar players have been known to hold impromptu concerts in the tunnel during their visits to the museum.
The Gibson Memphis site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.
In the 2017 Gibson Memphis reopening, there is a new Gibson flagship store. The area includes the store, museum and hall. It has the largest selection of Gibson acoustic guitars in one location. The hall contains various exhibits from the history of Gibson including vintage models and instruments that can be played.
There is also an event space that provides a venue for local musicians to perform at special events. The event space also hosts concerts from other artists such as Adam Ant and Amy Grant throughout the year.
In conclusion, if you are in the Memphis area, do not miss out and pickup some tickets to checkout the museum to experience the magic of Gibson.