I recently received an e-mail from Ray Peacock who is a valued contributor to the Viewliner Limited Blog and has his own website called HeartlandRails.Com. Here is his e-mail which is the basis for this post:
In the 1980s, Gibson Musical Instruments ended operations in their Kalamazoo, Michigan factory that had seen hand-built wooden stringed instruments built since the late 1800s, when shoe-maker and whittler Orville Gibson founded the company. It was just another "rust belt" factory closing.
Gibson had been sold to a new owner who quickly laid-off the long-time employees that didn't want to move to the new, automated plant in Nashville, Tennessee. Since many of the employees at Gibson in Kalamazoo were older experienced luthiers and had put down roots over the years in Michigan, moving was not an option. it appeared that guitar making in Kalamazoo was ending after 90 years.
But a few Gibson employees who chose not to move to Tennessee were able to purchase the building and equipment from Gibson in Kalamazoo so they could continue to build guitars the way they had been doing so since the 1950s when they had hired on at Gibson.
It wasn't always a smooth road, but quality, hand crafted American workmanship lives on at 225 Parsons St., in Kalamazoo. Like a big family, love and dedication have kept Heritage alive.
On this Labor Day 2008, its nice to know quality-built "made in America" still exists. ~ Ray Peacock
From The Editor: For those of you out there who think that the Limited Edition (I'm laughing now) Estaban Home Shopping guitars are the kind... please take a moment and read more about this group of "True American Craftsmen" who are producing "Hand Made American Excellence" and who deserve your attention and respect... as they are truly a part of American music history! ~ Richard Woods.
Below you will find a great article written by Robert M. Weir for the January 2008 Issue of Kalamazoo's own Encore Magazine. Also a Heritage Guitar Video narrated by owner Marv Lamb and a link to the Heritage Guitar factory photo album.
The Heritage Guitar Company was founded in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1985. The instruments that leave the door of the Heritage factory are created by the most experienced full line guitar builders in the world. Here the Heritage Guitar owners pose in front of their business on Parsons Street. Standing in front are Jim Deurloo and Marv Lamb, and in back are Vince Margol and J.P. Moats.
Katie Flamm does a final sanding and fixes tiny imperfections prior to sending the guitars to the finishing department. Patrick Whalen skillfully applies a sealant to the binding of another custom guitar prior to the color coat being applied. Craig "Curly" Spink uses clothespins to hold together the rim of a semi-hollow body guitar.
Ted Deville fine sands between the coats of lacquer on an instrument that is close to coming to life at Heritage Guitar. Floyd Newton, an employee since 1959 of both Gibson Guitar and now Heritage Guitar, provides new partner Vince Margol with a little historical perspective.
When Roy Clark (center) came to pick up his new guitar in 1988, owners Bill Page, Jim Deurloo, J.P. Moats and Marv Lamb were on hand to greet him.
Heritage Guitar Video narrated by owner Marv Lamb.
Here is a link to the Heritage Guitar factory photo album. These photographs were taken by Ron Warren Photography.
And here is the link to the Heritage Guitar Website.