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Baker Products Helps Make Music with Gibson Guitars: Baker Products ABXX Band Resaw Used in Key Manufacturing Process
Gibson Guitars: Baker Products supplied a machine used in a key manufacturing process to produce acclaimed Gibson guitars; the renowned guitar maker uses a Baker ABXX band resaw in its plant.
Date Posted: 9/1/2005
NASHVILLE, Tennessee — ‘The people who pass through these doors are the greatest employees in the world’— so says the sign that adorns the entrance to the Gibson USA electric guitar factory in Nashville, Tennessee.
And it would take outstanding employees to produce the quality product that has made Gibson one of the leading guitar manufacturers in the world.
In an age where technology rules, it is expected that most products these days are mass produced by highly technical equipment. While Gibson does take advantage of such equipment, it is the handcraftsmanship of its employees that make the company’s guitars top-of-the-line instruments.
The Gibson line of instruments first entered the market in 1894, when owner Orville Gibson came up with a new design for mandolins and guitars. Orville, working at the time as a shoe clerk, had a great compassion for music and woodworking. After researching, he decided that carved wood that was solid, unstressed and unbent produced the best quality vibrations. With that in mind, he created and introduced the world to Gibson instruments and was an instant success. Gibson still has a couple of the guitars that Orville made. They keep them locked away for now with the hope of someday displaying them in a museum for the public to view.
Orville Gibson established two policies that remain intact at Gibson today: buy or invent machines for dangerous or repetitive operations requiring great accuracy, and employ a highly skilled worker when the human touch or the musician’s ear is needed.
Gibson has expressed that it is the unique combination of man and machine that has kept the company going for so long. Its guitars are built with a careful combination of high precision tools and craftspeople who love their work. They’re built by musicians, for musicians.
The majority of Gibson USA employees are musicians. And yes, some of them do go on to become famous. Take, for instance, Ira Dean of Trick Pony and Joe Diffy. Both musicians worked in the Gibson USA factory until they made
The plant, originally started in Kalamazoo, Michigan, moved to
After several different owners and two world wars, Gibson has survived for over 100 years and is now owned by Henry Juszkiewicz and David Berryman. Henry is also the chairman and CEO of the company, and David acts as President. They purchased Gibson in 1986.
A guitar takes around four weeks to make its way through the plant. Along the way, it must pass through over a half-dozen quality control checkpoints. Each guitar starts out as a board. Most of the Gibson guitars consist of a maple front and a mahogany back. This combination began in 1952, when the first solid body guitar, the Gibson Les Paul, was debuted. The majority of the wood that enters the plant is certified. Henry is a firm believer in using certified wood and is also on the board of directors for Rainforest Alliance to encourage the use of it.
Maple billets are split using a Baker Products ABXX band resaw. After the maple has been split, it is stacked in pairs to be ‘book matched,’ giving the center-seamed flametop seen on the Gibson Supremes guitar line. They are glued together and placed in a glue wheel to dry. The maple top is then glued to the mahogany back and placed in a press until dry. The guitar body shapes are carved out of the newly combined pieces.
Binding provides a protective covering to the edge of the guitar body. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of time and a lot of skill to install, prompting most guitar manufacturers not to bother with it. Gibson, of course, does.
Rough carving of the bodies leaves them with small ridges across the top. These are smoothed out with a slack belt sander. With one wrong move, this process could easily go wrong. With the quality woodworkers at Gibson, however, the top comes out smooth.
The final stages of assembly can be described in three segments: build, adjust and clean. These are often sought after positions at Gibson by the musicians. Electronics are added, strings are strung and it’s time to tune the new guitar. To tune it, the instrument must be played. After playing a few tunes, a final cleaning takes place. Each person in the final assembly area has to sign the inspection card, and after the final inspection, it is packaged for delivery to the many distributors that carry the Gibson line. Gibson has a few retail shops, but most of its products are sold through distributors.
The process used at the Gibson USA factory offers a better understanding of how Gibson came up with the motto, ‘Only a Gibson is good enough.’
Odds are you’ve heard a Gibson guitar being played in songs such as "That’s All Right, Mama" by Elvis Presley, "Maybelline" by Chuck Berry, "My Girl" by the Temptations, "Life in the Fast Lane" by the Eagles, "Legs" by ZZ Top, "Mama, I’m Coming Home" by Ozzy Osbourne, and "I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith — just to name a few.
The Gibson name often shows up at various charity events throughout the year. One ongoing event currently being administered through the Gibson Foundation is the Guitar Town Project. Launched in 2004, the Guitar Town Project features 10-foot tall fiberglass Gibson guitars designed by visual artists and musical artists and sponsored by Nashville businesses and individuals. The guitars are placed near landmarks and businesses around Nashville. In 2006 each guitar will be auctioned, and the proceeds will benefit organizations, such as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, The United Way, Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum and the Downtown Nashville District.
Gibson also manufactures acoustic guitars, bass guitars, pianos, drums, banjos, violins, mandolins, amplifiers and more. They also have facilities in Memphis, Tennessee; Bozeman, Montana; Elgin, Illinois; Sunnyvale, California; Conway, Arkansas; Truman, Arkansas; and the Netherlands, Italy and China.
The Gibson family of brands also include Epiphone, Baldwin, Chickering, Dobro, Echoplex, Flatiron, Hamilton, Kramer, Maestro, Oberheim, Slingerland, Steinberger, Tobias, Valley Arts and Wurlitzer.Page 1 Page 2 Page 3