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Old Posted May 6, 2017, 12:59 AM
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Heritage Guitar Factory Tour | Kalamazoo MI

(Moving this here from the Kalamazoo Development thread, to keep that thread less bogged down with images)

I took an opportunity to go on a tour of Heritage Guitar’s factory on Kalamazoo’s Northside this week. It was a neat experience.

Heritage Guitars grew out of Gibson Guitars, which started in Kalamazoo in the late 1800s, when Orville Gibson started creating mandolins, and eventually guitars and other stringed instruments. The growing company moved into the historic 225 Parsons Street location in 1917, and remained there until 1984, when the company moved its operations to Nashville. However, a group of Kalamazoo employees who did not want to uproot their families stayed behind, acquired the factory and much of the original equipment, and reopened as Heritage Guitar Inc. in 1985.

Heritage is considered one of the best makers of guitars out there, and their instruments are shipped around the country and world. Some of the founding members of Heritage have been working at the facility since the 1950s. The three remaining active founding members are Jim Deurloo, Marv Lamb, and Bill Page, who have over 160 years of combined knowledge in the craft of constructing fine guitars. The price of an instrument ranges, anywhere from $2,000 to $9,000 (for the most custom designs).

Today, Heritage Guitar is a thriving business. The 70-80 employees on staff work together in a large open shop area like a well-oiled machine, producing about 1,500 guitars yearly. Probably the most incredible thing is how much of the work is done by hand and with simple shop tools – no CNC milling, no computers, no lasers. Each guitar is made to custom order – nothing is mass-produced. They have been using some of the same equipment since the depression era, and to amazing effect.

It was also interesting to hear about the plans they have in store for the original factory building. The company recently relocated its operations to another area within the factory, in preparation for a $12 million planned renovation of the original space, which will include a restaurant / brew pub, beer garden, and guitar museum. This is apparently supposed to happen in the next 1 – 2 years.

Anyway, here’s a few photos from the tour. Worth checking out if ever you are in town (tours are offered most Wednesdays and Fridays at 1:30pm).


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Old Posted May 28, 2017, 6:32 PM
malmor malmor is offline
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Cool place, interesting photo reportage.
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