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Gibson
Instruments currently manufactured by Original Acoustic Instruments (OAI) in Opryland Mall, Nashville, TN since 1997. Previously produced in Kalamazoo, MI between 1896 and 1984, Nashville, TN between 1984 and 1987, and in Bozeman, MT between 1987 and 1997. Distributed by the Gibson Guitar Corp. in Nashville, TN.
Luthier Orville H. Gibson was born in 1856 in Chateaugay, NY. Little is known about his early life except he had two brothers and two sisters. He eventually moved west to Kalamazoo, MI. The first time he was listed in Kalamazoo was 1881. He worked at several jobs and ended up at a restaurant in 1893. By 1896, Gibson had established his business as an instrument manufacturer. Orville applied for a patent for his mandolin in 1895 while he was still employed at a restaurant. Mandolins had been around for several years up to the point of Orville's design, but he introduced two new styles that changed the world of mandolin's such as the model A and model F. His patent was approved February 1, 1898 and Orville was in business as a mandolin maker shortly thereafter (and guitars were not far behind).
In 1902, five men that became the board of directors came along with some interest for stock in the company that were the men responsible for getting Gibson to where it is today. In 1903 after several meetings and problems, Orville bailed out and sold his stock of the company. From this point on until his death in 1918, Orville earned a monthly salary for royalties, but he had no further design or help in the company. Essentially the only thing that Orville had to do with Gibson was the name.
The first "official" models to be produced by Gibson appeared circa 1902, and the first catalog was in 1903. Mandolins were what Gibson did for exclusively for only a few short years. Not many years after they started producing the harp-guitar and eventually the guitar. By the 1920s, Gibson was producing mandolins, banjos, and guitars. Between mid-1922 and late 1924, Lloyd Loar designed Gibson mandolins as well as the Virzi Tone-Producer. Mandolins from this era are generally regarded as Gibson's best models, and any instrument associated with the "Loar" name will command an even higher premium.
Gibson has produced mandolins continuously since they started in the early 1900s, but the line was nearly dead in the early 1980s. In order to boost production of mandolins, Gibson bought the Flatiron company in 1987 and moved all mandolin production to their facility in Bozeman, MT. In 1997, Gibson moved mandolin production to Nashville, TN where they are currently produced by Original Acoustic Instruments as a sub-division of Gibson. For more information, visit Gibson's website or contact them directly.

From Blue Book Publications:


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