Finding a good repair and restoration shop for your guitars and amps has never been easy. Second hand recommendations can be dicey, because you can’t always trust the experience and judgment of the person making the recommendation. We have also observed that some people who have cultivated reputations as an authority on repairs don’t always perform up to their billing (and they often delegate most of their work to an employee while you pay extra for the name on the repair bill). By now you are probably familiar with the people we recommend – all the Plek-equipped guitar repair shops throughout the U.S., and for amps, Don Butler in California, Todd Sharp in Nashville, Jeff Bakos in Atlanta and Peter van Weelden in Apeldoorn, Netherlands.
Gibson Musical Instruments has been in the repair business for years, providing both warranty repair and non-warranty restoration work on acoustic and electric guitars, banjos and mandolins. Recently, they expanded the services offered by their repair facilities in Nashville to include work on all types of stringed instruments, including those made by other companies. We asked Todd Money, manager of the Gibson Repair Shop, to fill us in on their capabilities…
TQR: How and when did the concept of developing a Gibson repair facility in Nashville take shape?
The shop began in 1994 as a Warranty Repair facility. Our CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, has always made customer service a priority and of course the shop reflects that philosophy. It’s just in the last couple of years that we’ve expanded our operation to non-warranty and even non-Gibson work.
TQR: From our visits to the Custom Shop in Nashville we were aware of the tremendous backlog of instruments there for repair and restoration. Have you completely taken over responsibility for all Gibson repairs done in Nashville?
We interface with each division according to their particular needs. In some cases we handle everything. Others are on a per case basis and some may depend on the customer’s preference.
TQR: Let’s review the scope of the repairs you offer…
We do it all, from changing out a bad toggle switch to taking apart a 60 year old flattop and rebuilding it from the inside out. We do all of the operations you mention along with custom wiring, custom finishes, ‘relicing’ and carbon graphite neck repairs. These days we see a lot of older electrics that were bastardized one way or another years ago and the owners want to get them looking original again. Lately, we’ve seen a number of ’50s goldtops that were stripped, routed for humbuckers and had some form of non-factory bridge/tailpiece installed. It’s a real challenge getting some of these ‘right’ again but we’ve had very good success. All our people are musicians, so not only are they excellent technicians, they also understand and appreciate the special relationship we all have with our instruments and that attitude is inherent in all our work.
TQR: Gibson isn’t just limited to 6-string guitars… Do you also repair basses, mandolins, archtops, banjos and resonator guitars (and anything else we’ve neglected to mention).
If it has strings, we’ll work on it! While we’ll take in anything at either location, our primary focus at the downtown location is electric and acoustic guitars while the Opry Mills facility tends to handle more mandolins, banjos, upright basses, etc.
TQR: What are some of the most interesting, challenging and unusual projects you have taken on?
You mean ever, or just this week? Sometimes it seems like these ‘challenges’ come in on a daily basis! We’ve had to repair bullet holes in guitar necks, fire damage – you name it. One of the guys just completed a repair on a mandolin that had been driven over and crushed by a car – you wouldn’t know to look at it now. One of the neat things about what we do is when we can hand somebody’s ‘baby’ back to them after we’ve restored it and see the look on their face. That’s hard to beat.
TQR: Are you providing full warranty service for all Gibson instruments new, and old?
Both warranty and non-warranty on Gibsons. We’ll do custom work, painting, reshaping of necks, whatever you need. We’re not limited to Gibsons by any means. We welcome all brands. We’re also a service center for some other brands and we’re always working to expand that aspect.
TQR: How many employees work in the shop and what is their background?
I manage the overall operation and Timothy Tucker is Shop Supervisor so he divides his time between a desk and a bench. We have eight full time techs in our Downtown Nashville facility and three techs at the Opry Mills location. I started with the company in 1996 as a repair tech and became manager around 1999. Tim started as a tech in 1998. Though we have hired independent repairmen, many of our people come in without a lot of prior experience. Our main requirements are the ability to play, good problem-solving skills and the ability to use hand and power tools. The rest we can teach. With the volume of work and diversity of required repairs, new techs can get up to speed in pretty short order. Each of our techs carries his own repair load. That means that each repair is handled start to finish by one tech rather than passing hand to hand through a production process, so each of our techs is fully qualified in all aspects of repair.
TQR: Do you have a set price list for routine jobs such as refrets, new nuts, etc., or is each job quoted individually?
We have a price list that we use as a guideline but in restorations or complex repairs some procedures overlap, so we often need to look at the whole job. We inspect each guitar that comes in and determine what it needs, then we provide a detailed price quote to the customer in advance. We’ll call the customer to explain the quote and go over any options. Once we’re both in agreement on what’s to be done we’ll go ahead with the repair.
TQR: What is the best way to contact the shop to discuss a repair or restoration project?
I’d say visit our website! It gives a good overview of how we do what we do and it’s loaded with “before, during and after” pictures of repairs. Gibson Repair & Restoration, Nashville, TN 37203 615-244-0252,
This article is reprinted with permission from The Tone Quest Report - V7. N6. April 2006
Visit The Tone Quest Report online at: www.tonequest.com/