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Someday ...

There are a lot of popular guitars on the market these days and often I’m in stores observing people shopping. Some go straight for the brands they are familiar with from Ads. Others to what was recommended and most go to what their favorite artists play.

Polishing a guitar in the acoustic room of Jim’s Music a young gentleman who had been playing various guitars asked me “Do you work for Gibson? Can you tell me why this guitar sounds so much better than everything else in here? He was holding a SJ200.

I gave him a brief history on the “King of Acoustics” and explained how the Nitro Lacquer, dovetail neck joint and hand made construction added to the sound quality. A lot of the guitars he was playing had a Polyurethane finish that can really deaden the tone. He stated that he pulled it of the wall thinking, “I have seen this guitar before”. I told him he was right, that a lot artists play the SJ200 because of its loud deep rich sound that other guitars pale in comparison. Originally built for volume and projection to be heard over Mandolins and Banjos of the Bluegrass Era it later became popular with rock musicians.

We talked for a bit and I listened to him play until his father came and pulled him out of the room. As he left he looked at me and said “Someday.” He was only 12 years old but for his age he was a good player and a smart kid. He listened to his ears first.

Posted: 6/2/2009 12:12:50 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

Another Songwriter Deluxe Has Left the Building

My last visit at Dietze Music in Omaha had an interesting Montana acoustic encounter. As I was changing strings two guys walked in, obviously white collar businessmen, entry level players, wanting to hammer away on some acoustics.

They tried out several guitars and kept going back to a mid priced, roughly $1400.00 guitar. I engaged the two professionals from the medical industry, introduced myself and I started asking them what they liked about the chosen guitar. They chimed in that the price was right and the feel (IE) playability was comfortable. I proceeded to explain to them that the builder in question does build a fine guitar and went into their construction and building process.

I then pulled a Songwriter Deluxe cutaway off the wall and asked them if they would try it out. We compared the two side by side in a taste test of tonal characteristics, comfort and playability. As the two were strumming away I was explaining how we cut the wood and the process that goes with our construction appointments. I talked about the human touch and passion that goes into our guitars. I went through my typical sales pitch and explained all the characteristics of the building process.

Obviously money was no concern and long story short. They thanked me for taking the time to explain the tonal qualities and characteristics of wood and what all goes into building a world class guitar.

They said hands down without a doubt that the Songwriter Deluxe better of the two. They also noticed that the harder they played the Gibson the louder it got, as opposed to the other guitar, which the harder they strummed it the less articulate it was.

 I thanked them for their patronage and another Songwriter Deluxe has left the building …

Posted: 5/29/2009 3:13:56 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

One-of-a-Kind Gibson Acoustics

You never know what kind of interesting guitars you might run into at a Gibson authorized dealer, and Music Gallery in Highland Park, Ill., just north of Chicago is no exception. On my first visit to Frank’s shop (Music Gallery’s owner) I was treated to one of the most interesting Gibson acoustics I have ever seen.

For example, a Vintage Sunburst Super Jumbo with the history of Gibson guitars depicted throughout the guitar. It has a virtual timeline inlayed into the fretboard from mandolins and banjos to Les Pauls and Flying Vs. Not only was it stunning to look at, but it sounded just as good. This is one of the unique museum pieces that the master luthiers in Bozeman Montana are now creating.

The Master Museum program was started in 1998.

Enjoy this video about the making of Gibson's Master Museum Acoustics:

Posted: 5/21/2009 3:19:52 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

Huber & Breese Music Anniversary

May has arrived once again, which means the time has come for the Huber & Breese Music Anniversary sale. Guitarist Paul Huber and percussionist Terry Breese have supplied musical equipment to the Detroit area for 37 years now, and everyone looks forward to their annual party. It’s a day of music, food, and enthusiasm!

The big day came on Saturday May 9th this year. All the major manufacturers sent representatives to help with the event, and Gibson gladly did its part.  Three Gibson employees arrived to make the day a success: the area sales rep Paul Van Name, product specialist Chris Larpenteur, and assistant plant manager Don Ruffatto from the acoustic division in Bozeman, Montana.

Several hundred people turned out to see the huge selection of instruments at incredible prices. The deals were the best of the year, and the day provided a unique opportunity to have questions answered by company experts. Plus, Paul Huber’s son Hans once again performed his miraculous work on the grill, another annual tradition that everyone eagerly anticipates.

A Songwriter Deluxe Standard, newly introduced to the Gibson line this year, received more attention than any other guitar. Everyone agreed that its compound radius finger board made playing a breeze, especially as you moved higher up the neck.

As things wrapped up at the end of the day, many great instruments had found their way to new homes. A J-45 Custom, anther model introduced earlier in the year, sold after only just arriving, along with other pieces from Gibson Montana, the Gibson Songmaker series, and Epiphone.

Once again, Paul Huber and Terry Breese threw a terrific event!

Posted: 5/18/2009 12:56:37 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

Montana Goes to Tennessee

Feb. 28 brought Gibson Acoustic Day at Sam Ash on the north side of Nashville, Tenn. Don Ruffatto, from the Gibson Acoustic factory in Bozeman, Mont., and product specialist Ken McMahan both attended to help increase Gibson Montana’s profile and visibility at Sam Ash. The promotion was the suggestion of their acoustic specialist Kevin Anderson. He is a big supporter of Montana!

In the ultimate of ironies, severe weather was predicted that day to welcome Don to Nashville. Luckily the weather held out and the coast was clear for a good turnout!

Ken took charge the string change clinic, which also featured a Gibson Acoustic denim jacket giveaway, as we talked with customers about today’s Gibsons as well as our historic models. We saw a few great Gibson acoustics in the mix of guitars needing a restringing including a Dwight Yoakum Honky Tonk Deuce. Kevin sold a Songwriter Deluxe at the event as well as several Epiphone acoustics.

During the course of the day we were treated to a visit by John Bohlinger and his wife Megan Mullins who are both Gibson artists. John is primarily a guitarist best known as band leader from the Nashville Star television show and sideman to the stars. John has been a friend of ours for years so it was really a treat to have him drop by the event. He is also is from the state of Montana where his father was elected lieutenant governor in 2004. Megan Mullins is a recording artist in her own right as well as appearing as a featured instrumentalist on GAC’s Next GAC Star, PBS’s The Outlaw Trail and The Grand Ole Opry. They gathered in the acoustic room for an impromptu performance (see photo below). Also visiting the event was Kevin Haynie, guitarist for country artist Josh Turner.

Over 200 consumers registered for a Gibson Acoustic denim jacket giveaway. General manager Clay Rigdon presented the prize to the winner at a later date.

Posted: 5/6/2009 3:29:46 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

A Look Back at Musikmesse 2009

A positive Montana experience that I was recently involved in occurred during the last day of Musikmesse 2009 in Frankfurt, Germany, where I was charged with supporting all divisions by demoing and performing on various instruments at the show. One certain highlight happened on that Saturday when Vincent Martinez (Gibson Guest Artist) and I ended up in a spontaneous acoustic “Back-Porch Blues” style romp that seemed to delight the 300 or so present. 
The pictures here include those who were in attendance for this demo. Shortly after the demo we gave away a Reverse V and an Epiphone JJ French Model. Folks here had the pleasure of learning about the classic Montana tones from the Sheryl Crow Model, as well as the Hummingbird prior to the giveaway. 
During the entire Messe event, I fielded many vendor/consumer questions and had positive interactions with attendees from all over Europe, including Chris Adams, who brought his Prototype Robot J-165, along with a Prototype Robot EJ-160E. I look forward to supporting these dynamic instruments.
Of note: just two days after Messe, First Lady Michelle Obama, who was accompanying President Obama to the recent NATO summit in Strasbourg, offered French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy a Hummingbird. (Read the whole story here!) Needless to say such a high-profile gesture could impact future Hummingbird sales in France.

Posted: 5/6/2009 3:22:19 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

Dallas International Guitar Festival

Dallas Guitar FestivalThe 32nd Dallas International Guitar Festival was held April 17-19. This guitar show is unique, as along with the many vendors displaying new and vintage instruments, three stages provided the attendees with some of the best guitar performances you will see anywhere.

Eric Johnson, Johnny A., Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Rick Derringer, Tom Murphy and many others treated large crowds to jamming throughout the day and late into the evening.

This show provides a great window into both the past and future of guitars, with vintage guitars of all makes and models displayed by dealers from all over the world, and new guitars and accessories shown by manufacturers and distributors.

The Gibson Acoustic and Custom Shop trailers saw a steady stream of people playing guitars, asking questions about new product, and just absorbing the atmosphere. Recently introduced 2009 models on display in the Acoustic trailer, including The Kristofferson SJ, SJ-200 Studio and Standard, the Songwriter Deluxe Standard, and limited run pieces kept the crowds coming back for another chance to play and enjoy the guitars. Experts were also on hand from the Montana and Custom Shop divisions to answer questions and help explain the intricacies of the Gibson lines.

The show was a huge success, and promoter Jimmy Wallace is already making plans for next years event.

Posted: 4/27/2009 8:37:00 AM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

Fuller’s Vintage Guitar Gibson Days

Fuller's Vintage GuitarApril 9-11 brought Spring Gibson Days to Fuller’s Vintage Guitars in Houston. The event was a huge success, with special sales, clinics and performances throughout the three days.

Thursday evening kicked off the weekend with an after hours invitation-only sale. Guests arrived to take in a large selection of Ren Ferguson Museum Masterpieces and other limited run and custom guitars in Fuller’s inventory. Music filled the room as customers and employees played and sang their way through the night.

New 2009 models were the hit of the weekend, with the Songwriter Deluxe Standard, the J-45 Custom, and the new Super Dove attracting the most attention. Players were fascinated with the playability of the Songwriter’s new compound radius fingerboard, and the accurate acoustic reproduction that the Fishman Aura Ellipse pick up system provides impressed all who heard it.

Both the Acoustic and Electric Custom Shop trailers, along with one of the Gibson tour buses, were in the parking lot for the weekend, and they were filled with people playing the selection of guitars displayed. Carl Tosten, from Seattle, Wash., performed his unique style of acoustic wizardry on the stage in one of the acoustic rooms to an enthralled crowd both Friday and Saturday.

Texas legend Ray Wilie Hubbard, most famous for writing the Jerry Jeff Walker hit “Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mother” and many others, made an appearance. To the delight of the full house on Saturday, he performed several sets of music and storytelling, explaining his theories on song crafting and amusing everyone with anecdotes from his many years in the music industry.

The event was a huge success, and a great way to kick off the summer.

Posted: 4/24/2009 8:41:57 AM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

Tesla Visits The Gibson Acoustic Plant

April 9, 2009

Frank Hannon, Dave Rude, and Frank's guitar technician, Robbie Furiosi, from the rock group Tesla, stopped by our plant while on tour promoting their hit cd "Forever More."  Having fallen in love with Frank's J50, Dave had to have one of his very own, and we were very happy to oblige him!

Robbie, Dave, & Frank in the Binding Department...

While they were here, I gave them a detail tour of the shop.  They were fascinated by the hand craftsmanship that each guitar receives in our facility.  Robbie picked my brain throughout the tour learning as much as he could about the inner workings of the Gibson acoustic guitar.  They were blown away as our own Valerie Bolitho showed them photos of various custom shop guitars that Ren Ferguson has created. 

Later that evening during dinner, we were entertained by their tales of life on and off the open road.  It was a distinct pleasure being able to wine and dine with the iconic band Tesla, and I was duly impressed by their casual demeanor and their down-to-earth charm.

Frank & Dave in Neckfit....

Frank, Robbie, and Dave in the Lacquer Booth....

I'll end this by saying that Dave's new J50 sounded fantastic on stage and that Tesla literally rocked the house on Friday night in Billings, MT.  Our doors are always open to you, Tesla, and we can't wait 'till we see you again!

Jason Jones, Gibson Acoustic luthier

Posted: 4/13/2009 7:37:34 AM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

The Gibson Moustache™ Bridge Part Two.

Last week we took a look at the building of the famous Gibson Acoustic Mustache™ Bridge. As mentioned in the first installment, this week we are going to walk through the location and attachment of the bridge to the guitar top itself. The precise placement of the bridge to the soundboard of the instrument is critical for accuracy in both string alignment and intonation.

Below we see one of Gibson Acoustics Master-builders carefully locating the bridge to the top of a SJ200 True Vintage. The bridge is aligned to the fret board of the instrument and perfectly centered with the instruments premium Adirondack Red Spruce top.

Once the bridge has been located and pinned into place our Gibson Master-builder will very carefully, and with an enormous degree of accuracy cut the finish with a fine blade and remove the exact “footprint” of the bridge from the guitar tops finish (a very exact skill requiring a steady hand and plenty of practice). This allows for a wood to wood joint, for a pure and powerful transfer of energy from the bridge to the top – no bolts, and no screws, as we see below.

Once the “footprint” for the bridge has been made it is time to apply the glue and clamp the bridge to the guitar top. Below we see our Master-builder applying just the right amount of glue to the underside of the bridge. Then the bridge is secured to the guitar top with a specially engineered tool that equalizes the clamping pressure across the span of the bridge.

The bridge will remain in the clamp for a minimum of 2 hours before the pressure is released resulting in a solid, uncompromised joint that will withstand the string tension placed upon the bridge for the life of the guitar.

As you have seen, the processes involved with the creation and attachment of the Gibson Moustache™ Bridge, are rooted in craftsmanship, and uncompromising attention to detail, as so many of the processes used by the Master-builders in Gibson’s Acoustic factory are. You will see more of the Gibson Acoustic Master-builders at work in the near future.

Posted: 4/9/2009 3:27:23 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink
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