By Deborah Evans Price
Nashville’s reputation as Music City USA has been further bolstered by the opening of a guitar lovers paradise. Located in the heart of downtown, Gibson Garage celebrates the unique history of the 127-year-old American instrument company while also offering locals and out of town visitors a place to shop and play.
Gibson Garage gives music lovers a chance to explore Gibson, Epiphone, Kramer, MESA/Boogie and KRK and try out the full line of electric and acoustic guitars as well as shop for apparel, gear and accessories. At the Gibson Garage, musicians can design their dream guitar, watch a taping of the Gibson TV series or catch a live performance.
When the Gibson Garage opened June 9, which fell on what would have been guitar icon Les Paul’s 106th birthday, there was a line around the block to check out the new destination. “Beth (my wife) and I attended the grand opening of the Gibson Garage this week and WOW!” former Director of Research & Development Mike Voltz said in a statement following the event. Volz recently retired after 36 years as an employee of Gibson Brands. “In addition to being one of the finest retail experiences I have ever had, the Gibson Garage provides an amazing performance venue for artists and a great hang for the rest of us. The display of exceptional historical instruments brings true significance to all of the new guitars, amps, monitors and apparel for sale. As a builder, I especially appreciate the thought and care that went into creating the perfect environmental protection for the guitars from the acoustic salon to the Custom Shop Murphy Lab. The Garage reflects where Gibson is headed and it’s great!”
Inside the 8,000 square foot space, visitors will be treated to a look at Gibson’s history via a display case featuring the first instrument and last mandolin made by founder Orville Gibson. They can also take a look at a 1938 advanced jumbo acoustic believed to be the first guitar performed on television.
But more than keeping history alive, those who created Gibson Garage are hoping it will be a focal point in the community that will bring musicians together. “With all of the growth in Nashville, there are sadly, very few places where artists can go anymore and feel a sense of community,” says Meghan Linsey of the duo Meg + Tyler, who performed at the grand opening. “The energy in the Gibson Garage feels so good. It’s like a home base for creatives; a place where you want to be and play music.”
The opening of Gibson Garage marks the return of a welcome oasis for guitar lovers. Gibson previously had a shop/venue in Opry Mills Mall that was once a favorite destination for tourists and local musicians, but like many businesses, it was a casualty of the devastating flood that hit Nashville in 2010 and didn’t reopen when the remainder of the mall opened in 2012.
"For as long as Gibson has been in Nashville, guitar lovers have been asking where they can go for a Gibson experience,” says Walter Carter, Owner of Carter Vintage Guitars in Nashville. “Now, we can tell them the Gibson Garage is the place to go to see Gibsons, to hear Gibsons, and to absorb Gibson's history. There's nothing else like it in the guitar world.”
The new Gibson Garage is located at 209 10th Avenue South Nashville, TN (Cummins Station) and is open daily Monday–Saturday from 11:00-6:00p and from 12:00-6:00p on Sunday.
“When we walked into the Gibson Garage, we immediately felt the same passion, creativity, and attention to detail that Gibson puts into every one of their instruments,” stated Tyler Cain of Meg + Tyler. “With this new space, Gibson has continued to create a community in Nashville that will keep the nickname ‘Music City’ strong for generations to come.”
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