On May 1st and 2nd, torrential rains caused severe flooding in the Nashville, Tennessee area. One business that was impacted was the Gibson Guitar plant. Gibson is a leader in musical instrument manufacturing and music technology.
The lower levels of the plant were completely flooded. Many famous musical artists instruments were destroyed. Some were saved by Gibsons' Guitar Repair and Restoration facility. Through the hard work of many people, the plant was reconditioned and ready to start producing again in July.
The company was founded in 1804 by Orville Gibson in Kalamazoo, Michigan making mandolins. After Orvilles' death in 1919, the company continued to make mandolins and archtop guitars. In 1935, it introduced the first electric guitar. In 1944, Gibson was purchased by Chicago Musical Instruments but the factory remained independent.
In 1952, designed by guitarist Les Paul, the first solid body was introduced. In 1969, it was bought by Norlin, Inc. Between 1974 and 1984, production was moved to Nashville with the Michigan plant closing in 1984. This change caused many problems including inexperienced Southern employees and climate control because of high humidity. The company was bought by private investors before being driven out of business by these problems. Under new ownership, the company has prospered and increased market share and sales to the present.
Gibson is the largest manufacturer of acoustic and electric guitars in the United States. Besides Gibson, it markets its guitar under the Epiphone, Kramer, Valley Arts, Tobias, Steinberger and Kalamazoo brands among others. It also makes pianos under the Baldwin brand. Through research and innovation, it continues to be one of the worlds leading guitar manufacturers.
Besides Nashville, it has manufacturing plants in Memphis for semi-hollow and custom shop instruments and Bozeman, Montana for acoustic instruments. Its bluegrass instruments, mandolin and banjo, are manufactured at the "Gibson Showcase" at the Opry Mills Mall in Nashville. The factory is open to the public and has a store which sells all of the Gibson products.