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A Tour of the Gibson Acoustic Shop in Bozeman, Montana: Part 5

June 21, 2011
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We’ve followed the complete process of acoustic guitar construction at the Gibson acoustic shop. There are two other key aspects, however: the Custom Shop and Artist models. Here, we’ll take a look inside the Bozeman Custom Shop.

The Custom Shop is big enough to work on no more than a few guitars at once. It holds the special woods and materials required for custom builds, and has a few benches. Most of the major work is performed on the shop floor using the standard shop fixtures, but with specified materials. The basic guitar assemblies are taken into the Custom Shop room for detailing and inlay.

So, what makes a Custom Shop instrument custom? First, the custom builds are based on existing, proven designs, such as the AJ, J-45 or J-200. These are put together with specific wood sets, inlays, and other appointments as requested. Custom Shop orders come from authorized Gibson dealers, and originate either with an idea the dealer has, or from a request by a specific customer.

Inlay designs are drawn out by hand on paper, then cut out. These are used to cut the inlay materials, and are reassembled according to the original design. Engraving is done by hand. In the images you see here, original drawings and photos of inlays, including those on the Black Pearl J-200 are seen:

There didn’t happen to be a lot going on in the shop when we walked through, but here is one body, and some wood sets for upcoming builds:

Pickguards are a common feature for customization, and here are a few examples from Grant’s visit:

The Bozeman plant also produces a few rare guitars that aren’t, strictly speaking, Custom Shop. These are the fully acoustic L5 arch-top guitars, and one popped in during our visit.

Next up is Artist models!
Join us in Part 6 of The Gibson Acoustic Shop Tour!


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