Some of that time was spent with people picking up the guitar after a long hiatus or for the first time. “I think the last 12 months have created more energy for the guitar than the previous 12 years combined, so the question becomes: how do we keep this going? … And continue for the next generation? said Curleigh.
Management thinks they have found the answer in the Gibson garage. Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, the Gibson Garage – slated to officially open on Wednesday – was developed as a multi-million dollar investment with the goal of becoming a new destination for music lovers to both discover the ‘history and contribute to the music community of which they have been a part for over a century.
The new space – located just a few doors down from the company’s headquarters, in the Cummins Station building in Nashville – will allow visitors to purchase or design their own guitar, explore generations of music history at through interactive exhibits and attending recordings of the award-winning Gibson television series (Gibson’s portfolio also includes Epiphone, Kramer, KRK and the newly acquired MESA / Boogie brand). There is also a stage in the 300-seat capacity showroom for live performances by artists on Gibson’s Artist List. All Garage entertainment and programming is free to the public, unless otherwise specified.
“For me, it’s a hope. It’s a space to inspire me, to come and look for new instruments, but also to play and collaborate with other new musicians”, declares Jared james nichols, one of the artists chosen to perform an industry preview at the Garage on May 26th. “It looks like a more appreciative place [than a Broadway bar], with real music lovers who can come here to watch a show for the right reasons. I think playing for an audience that came to listen to an artist standing on stage in a guitar house would make a musician want to step up his playing. “
Curleigh envisioned such a space before joining Gibson in late 2018 after a six-year stint as president of global brands from Levi Strauss. “Almost on day zero after joining Gibson, I started working on creating the ultimate Gibson experience, where people could explore both the history of the company and actually hold the guitars,” says- he. “There is absolutely an impressive demand for our fan base to have a direct relationship with us, and we see that on our website and our app. … We’re here to bring Gibson to life for our fans. These fans can be the ones who have been with us forever, or the ones I call “past fans” who maybe took a break from us and got their guitar needs met by other companies during our days. dark days, and now they’re coming back to see what we can offer.
Those “dark days” include 2018, when Gibson filed for bankruptcy after years of struggling with debt. The company continued to operate after receiving $ 135 million from lenders. Curleigh returned the brand to its core musical mission after losing its way in trying to become a musical lifestyle brand, including borrowing $ 300 million to buy consumer electronics company Royal Philips in 2014.
Gibson Brand President Cesar Gueikian says embracing the company’s past as a producer of guitars will continue the financial well-being of the company for generations to come.
“I think we’re back; we’re a guitar company again,” says Gueikian. “We have 127 years of history, shaping the sound as a guitar company. The company was a bit distracted.… Working to bring this company back to where it deserved to be in the music world is something. thing that we spent a lot of time focusing on, but after almost three years on this journey, there is a sense of accomplishment. “
Gueikian also sees the Gibson garage as a small-scale test market for other concepts the company could explore. “If we work on new prototypes or something new with an artist, we might say, ‘Let’s go to the garage and see the level of interest. If we want to experience the feeling or the flow of [sales] floor, and take these results to open [a Garage] in London or LA, we can use this space as a launch pad.
Gueikian says Gibson also plans to launch a weekly Emerging Artist Night to showcase new talent, as well as possibly adding a weekly Beginner’s Night for anyone who picked up the guitar during the pandemic.
“There is definitely a bunch of new guitarists out there now, and it’s exciting,” says Gueikian. “The obligation we owe them now is to keep it fun, to stay engaging, and to continue to keep it where they don’t just put their guitars back under the bed.