Over the last week we attended the Grand Ole Opry twice and heard a wide variety of country music stars creating wonderful music. It seemed fitting that today we decided to visit the Memphis manufacturing plant of the Gibson Guitar Corporation. Gibson Guitar founded in 1894 by Orville Gibson. Since then it has grown from small a one room shop to a company that is known around the world for the fine guitars they manufacture.
Orville Gibson invented the archtop guitar which uses the same type of carved, arch tops found on violins. In the 1930’s Gibson added flat top acoustic guitars to their product line. They were one of the first companies to manufacture hollow body electric guitars. Gibson now has three factories; the one in Memphis makes the hollow and semi-hollow electric guitars.
On the tour we observed the steps that takes raw wood and in three weeks produces a precision instrument that is capable of producing music. The factory employs about 50 craftspeople and 11 supervisors that use a combination of hand crafting and computer controlled cutting and drilling to ship about 50 guitars every day. The tour started in the area where the thin sheets of layered veneers are pressed by machines to form the tops, bottoms, and sides of the various guitar models. The tour continued to show many of the steps that go into making the guitar all the way to the final hand polish done before the guitar is boxed and ready to ship.
We were not allowed to take photos on the tour, but they did allow us to take pictures in the lobby and retail store. The retail store had walls of guitars everything from acoustic to solid electric ones. We heard a salesperson telling someone that the most expensive acoustic guitar they had in the store at the moment would set you back at least $3,500.
In keeping with the country music and Grand Ole Opry theme – we looked at the Brad Paisley acoustic guitar that has Brad’s signature on the label inside the guitar.
In 2006 Gibson purchased jukebox and vending machine maker Deutsche Wurlitzer. There were a few nice Wulitzer Jukeboxs on display in the lobby.
And now we get to the creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky part of the blog. We were sitting in Nashville the other day looking to see what we wanted to do while we were in Memphis (other than go eat BBQ) and saw that the Addams Family Musical was going to be in Memphis while we are visiting.
When we lived in Seattle we went to a few plays at the 5th Avenue and Paramount theater, seeing some wonderful shows like Wicked, South Pacific, and the Lion King to name a few. The Addams Family – well is just not a classic – but we did really enjoy Shrek the Musical, and since we discovered that we could get some inexpensive seats (although they were way up there) we decide to give it a try.
We are very glad we give it a try – was it a classic – no, but it was pretty good, and very funny. It has us laughing out loud more than once. If it is in your area – give it a look.
I guess many would say our life is just a bit mysterious and kooky