I live in Nashville, but I still haven’t been on a Gibson Factory Tour. Thankfully, there’s a video available to see how guitars are made. I have to tell you, when I was younger, I played a lot of guitar – I had a nice Ibanez with a Crate half stack amp. So fun. Well, I still play a little – I have a nice Yamaha acoustic and I enjoy it. But, after seeing this video, it made me want a Gibson Les Paul, for sure.
The video highlights are below:
- Wood is cut for body blanks
- Wood is sanded for imperfections and pneumatically clamped
- The tops are cut – book matched maple
- The top is then cut into the shape of the guitar
- They demonstrate the routers used to cut the Gibson SG body
- They discuss what they do to reduce setup times (single minute exchange of dies – SMED)
- Gibson uses RFID and places one on each guitar. This helps them determine which factory the guitar was made, for warranty reasons and also for inventory control
- Gibson Guitars is known for their “binding” process, which is the process of bonding the top and back to the body with the use of glue and leather straps
- Gibson emphasizes that they use “old world” methods, which is what Gibson is known for. It’s more work, but each guitar is handmade.
- They describe the scraping and finishing process. Guitars are hung on carousels where it’s warmer and allows it to cure. Guitars are on carousels for around 4-6 days in order to dry
- In Quality Control, Gibson shows how finish thickness is checked – too thin, the guitar isn’t durable; too thick, then the guitar won’t have the right acoustics.
- After finishing, they show how each guitar is handscraped. It’s a very delicate process and their associates are trained and have long tenures
- Then on to buffing.
- Then final inspection – scratches are checked as well as other issues on buffing or finishing
- Then polish, cleaning, and oil before pickups are installed. Here, they describe standardization on how many turns coils are wound on the humbucker.
- Then on to final installation, then out the door.