A tour of the Gibson guitar factory offers a behind-the-scenes look at the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into making guitars by one of the world’s most recognized instrument brands. Visitors get a glimpse at the production process, from buffing to painting, of the 65 or so guitars completed in the factory each day.
It seems fitting that the home of the blues would also be the home of an American classic guitar, the Gibson. Tour the Beale Street facility to experience a working factory where luthiers (string-instrument builders) craft some of the world’s best guitars. Learn about binding, neck-fitting, painting, and tuning from a guide.
For a comprehensive look at the Memphis music scene, combine your visit to the Gibson guitar factory with a city sightseeing tour with stops at the blues clubs of Beale Street, the Orpheum Theatre, and the Memphis Rock ’n’ Soul Museum.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Gibson guitar factory is a must-visit for music lovers and musicians.
- Factory tours last 45 minutes to an hour.
- Wear close-toed shoes; ear plugs and dust masks are provided.
- The factory tour is wheelchair accessible.
- An on-site shop sells a full line of Gibson guitars and guitar accessories.
How to Get There
If you’re driving to the factory, you’ll find a paid parking lot on MLK Avenue. It’s also possible to take one of the green Memphis Area Transit Authority buses to the Beale Street stop.
When to Get There
The factory offers several tours throughout the day, but it’s a good idea to book ahead of time to get the slot you want. Tours tend to sell out on weekends and holidays, especially during the busy summer months.
Short History of the Gibson Guitar
Gibson has a history dating back to 1902, when it was founded by Orville Gibson in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The company invented the archtop guitar and today produces one of the world’s most famous guitars, the Gibson Les Paul. Introduced in 1952, this guitar has been used across music genres, from rock and blues to country and jazz.