A brief history
It’s one of the oldest guitar makers still in existence, but the journey from Orville Gibson’s hobby to a world-straddling brand has been a rollercoaster to say the least.
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In the century or so since, the brand has changed dramatically, evolving with the times and adapting to changes in music, establishing a global reputation for innovation and quality. It’s not all been smooth sailing, and there’s certainly been some times when the brand has found itself in hot water, but it endures today as an icon of American culture.
It all began in Kalamazoo
As renowned as Gibson has become, it’s hard to imagine that it all started as Orville Gibson’s part-time hobby! He worked a variety of part-time jobs in order to fund his true passion – handcrafting musical instruments.
Orville began building acoustic guitars and mandolins in his Kalamazoo, Michigan shop in 1894. He pioneered a guitar design that featured a carved, hollow top with an oval sound hole that would become the standard for the archtop guitar. It didn’t take long for demand of his handcrafted creations to take off and so in 1902 he secured the financing to form the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Company.
Sadly, he would pass away in 1918 without being able to see much of the success his namesake company would come to have.