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  1. #1

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    Which Gibson guitar plant is better, Nashville or Memphis? Any comments or opinions?


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  3. #2

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    I went through this researching a Historic 335 Nashville I bought. The consensus seemed to be that there was a time where many of Gibson's best and/or oldest luthiers were at the Nashville plant. Just that extra bit better product and there is, among some, a mystique surrounding the Nashville stuff. But, who knows now. I had a recent Memphis 339 that was excellent.

    There is plenty of debate over at My Les Paul and Les Paul Forum. The search function yields a ton of opinion.
    Last edited by teleboli; 01-14-2014 at 12:27 AM.

  4. #3
    It is my understanding that all of the arch tops are now made in Memphis.

  5. #4

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    Really? When did that start?

  6. #5
    Read it or heard it in an interview with the folks at Gibson that they were moving all of their production to Memphis from Nashville. May take some time to do it but I believe that it is their business plan to do so. They don't mention it on their site, but you may notice that the higher end historic ES models (335, 175 etc.) are called out as Memphis made.

  7. #6
    Gibson still calls out their large arch tops as being made in Nashville.

  8. #7

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    The new 59 Reissue ES175 VOS is done in Memphis if that means anything. For all anybody knows some of the best craftsmen from Nashville may have re-located to Memphis. They almost certainly went to Memphis to train staff when the transitions began. Again, who knows. Just MO.

  9. #8

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    I have owned a Kalamazoo Les Paul Deluxe, a Nashville SG and currently have a Memphis ES-335. The differences are attributable to the management practices at the time more than the location they were put together (the LP was early in the Norlin reign, while the other two were built by the current outfit). My 335 is flawless, as was the SG. The Les Paul not so much: it was 27 years old, and had been heavily played, when I bought it.

    Gibson guitar manufacturing depends a lot more on the quality of the fixtures in the plant than where the plant is located. My 335 is from the early days of their manufacture in Memphis, but it was not built by beginners.

    I judge instruments by my personal experience with them.
    "Digo: 'paciencia, y barajar.'" -- Don Quijote de la Mancha, Part II, Chapter 23

  10. #9

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    My 175 is a Memphis and I also heard that all arch tops are now made in Memphis.

  11. #10

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    My 2010 175 is Memphis

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Randooley View Post
    My 175 is a Memphis and I also heards that all arch tops are now made in Memphis.
    I think that's true. Sweetwater's listing of Gibson (not specified as "Memphis) comprises three Midtown semi-hollow bodies; Gibson Custom (manufacturing site not specified) includes the L-5, Byrdland and Johnny A models, an ES-356 described as "one-off with hand-picked top" and two variations on the '63 block-neck ES-335, with and without a Bigsby B-7. Gibson Memphis is a list of 56 hollow and semi-hollow models, including ES-175s, ES-295s (hollow) and ES-Les Pauls, ES-335s, ES-390s and the ES-345.
    "Digo: 'paciencia, y barajar.'" -- Don Quijote de la Mancha, Part II, Chapter 23

  13. #12

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    My understanding is that most of the laminate hollow and semi hollows are built in Memphis ... except for custom shop stuff like the Tal Farlow

    Some of the historic laminate bodies may be built in Memphis and finished at the custom shop in Nashville.

    I would be very surprised if the Custom shop solid wood archtops ... L5s, Le Grands, Johnny As, and even Tal Farlows ... have moved to Memphis

    I go to Memphis every Christmas so maybe this Christmas I can take the tour and see what they are currently making there. It's been about 15 years since I toured the Memphis plant.


  14. #13

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    ALL high end archtops are made in the Nasville custom shop. 175's are not high end archtops and have been being made in Memphis for a very long time.
    Comparing the Nashville custom shop with the Memphis custom shop is like comparing gold to silver.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k View Post
    Comparing the Nashville custom shop with the Memphis custom shop is like comparing gold to silver.
    This was new to me. But I always wondered the Custom Shop origin of my ES-137. Feeled a bit ... different (!) from Custom Shop Les Pauls I have. No wonder, they have two CSs!

  16. #15

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    Last time I checked, all the laminated archtop plates were being made in Memphis amd all the carved archtop plates were being made in Nashville. I assumed that was done to support production efficiencies related to the tooling for these components. No idea what the current situation is, but it wouldn't surprise me if there if a steady stream of parts between the two facilities. They are @212 miles apart.
    "Somebody get me out of this chair." - BOB WILLS
    Hammertone is a registered Hofnerologist.

  17. #16

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    I think mine is a 2011,how do you like yours?

  18. #17

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    Four years after !

    Just received a brand new Memphis Es-330 that is absolutely flawless.
    It's the first time that I receive a totally right guitar from Gibson: intonation, action, etc... All is perfect.
    No glue in the box, no bad binding, nothing. And playable without taking it to my luthier.
    I'll install flatwounds, of course.
    It's a big surprise for me as many of the guitars I bought on the net (even Custom Shop) went with issues or at least imperfections.

    It could happen to you too ????

  19. #18

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    I've had a fairly good experience with the Memphis guitars. I got six semi-hollows. I sent the seventh back for a cosmetic issue. The quality seems as good as the 1960-80s Kalamazoo Gibson, which I'm reluctant to admit being a citizen of Kalamazoo.

    The thing I marvel about Gibson electrics is the team that designed these models, headed by Ted McCarty. Like Leo Fender, these guys were radical and thorough. Gibson had made its money on acoustic instruments for half a century. With really a revolution in the 50s, out comes the Les Paul. Then things go absolutely crazy with the thinline 300 series and the Explorer, Flying V and Firebird. And this was before LSD hit the streets. Over a half century later they have not improved on the designs.

    I'm impressed every time I think about it.

  20. #19

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    I ha e owned 4 different ES-335,339 guitars from Memphis 1963,1958 ES-335 Historic models and CS ES-ES-339 as well as Studio model.

    All are excellent guitars as good as any Vintage version I ever owned or played!
    I'm sure the Nashville models are equally good.
    Most of what is talked a out is marketing hype,to command bigger $$
    One needs to play a bunch of them before coming to a conclusion

  21. #20

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    I have a 6 year old Memphis built ES-390 that is superb. For the life of me I can't understand why anyone would let it go especially for what I paid for it.

    I also have a 1991 Nashville built ES-165 that is also superb. Great in all aspects.

    I had a late '70s Kalamazoo built ES-175 Charlie Christian. That one didn't do it for me and I sold it in the late '80s. Really heavy due to the pickup and loads of hum. Evidently they didn't build many of them and they only built them for a couple of years. All were marked as "Seconds" mine included. I don't miss it.

    I also had what would have been a '60s Kalamazoo built J-45. It was a canon. Still sorry for selling that one.

  22. #21

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    I've now two (for a short time) of those Memphis 330 at home, one with some 14-56 flats (some nut job was done and the truss was a little tightened) and her sister with a (very) light 11-49 Elixir. I was very surprised that this one is sounding unplugged as strong and plenty as my dear es-125. I never played a thinline with such a light (and round) set of strings and it's a real pleasure. An absolute keeper !!