As if you didn’t already have enough great places to visit when you come to Music City; from the Grand Ole Opry to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Music Row, Broadway, the Ryman Auditorium and who could forget the Bluebird Cafe? The Gibson Garage is set for its Grand Opening on Wednesday June 9th with a ribbon cutting and live music performances all day long. The schedule includes Maggie Rose, Celisse, Filmore, Meghan Lindsey & Tyler Cain, Striking Matches and a ‘Gibson Gives’ benefit in the evening.
Fortunately, Maverick Country was able to achieve the full tour of the Gibson Garage long before the opening. Located in historic Cummins Station, near the Union Station in Nashville TN, the Gibson Garage is within walking distance of most Downtown hotels. Director of Gibson Brand Experience, Mark Agnesi, provided me a personal tour throughout the expansive garage.
When you walk in through the front doors the first thing, you’ll notice are almost 200 guitars rotating over your head and around the room. This is to give you the feeling of how guitars are dried in the actual Gibson Guitar factory on the other side of Nashville. Each brand of the Gibson banner is on display and available for you to play in the Gibson Garage. What I mean is this is not a museum it is an interactive space where the public is encouraged to play, plug in and engage with musical products first hand. Essentially it is like a giant toy store for musicians and artists where you are allowed to touch and play with the merchandise.
Agnesi, who is also the host of Gibson TV, took me through the Murphy Lab section where you can have the guitar of your dreams built to your specifications. There is also a Repair and Restoration space, a Kramer guitars corner, KRK workstation, Mesa Boogie amplifiers area and a large Gibson Acoustic Guitars room. At the center of the room is a Live Performance stage where Gibson artists, singers and songwriters will be featured on a regular basis.
I spoke with JC Curleigh, Chief Executive Officer of Gibson, in the backstage area of the Gibson Garage. Curleigh said,” When I arrived in Nashville two and a half years ago, I soaked in the Country Music Hall of Fame, Johnny Cash Museum, the Ryman, concerts at the Bridgestone and the Bluebird Café. And I’m like where is the best Gibson guitar experience here? The vision was to have the Ultimate Gibson Experience here in Nashville. A place where you can explore Gibson, a place where you can play guitars, a place where you can shop and go home with a piece of Gibson!” As mentioned by JC not only can you play the music gear at the Gibson Garage you can also purchase instruments and Gibson merchandise in the facility. There will be clothing that is offered at the Garage that can only be purchased in Nashville with the city name printed on it.
I caught up with the Brand President of Gibson, Cesar Gueikan to listen to his thoughts on the Gibson experience. “This will be our launch platform to show what is coming and a test platform. We also want to showcase emerging artists.” The screens that you see around the Gibson Garage aren’t designed to play videos, but as Mark Agnesi told me they are interactive touch screens. By engaging in these screens you’ll be able to take a guitar lesson, watch Gibson TV or view the instrument catalog to see what is currently in production and available. Plus launches of new instruments as they release.
Jared James Nichols, a Gibson endorsed artist, told me “The biggest thing I get from the Gibson Garage is inspired. I’m like a kid in a Candy Store. This is the kind of place where a musician, guitarist or music lover could just feel it in the air.” Nichols signature model Gibson and Epiphone guitars are also on display at the Garage and his new Epiphone model has proven hard to keep in stock due to public demand. Also, as Jared mentioned, being a guitarist or musician isn’t a requirement to enter the Gibson Garage. Even if you just enjoy guitars as visual artwork you are certain to be impressed with this new Gibson experience.
Entry to the Gibson Garage is free to the public. Just check hours of operation before you make the trek to the garage. Also allow yourself plenty of time to wander the rooms and experience everything that is Gibson. I will be making several trips back myself and probably leaving with one more guitar and some Gibson merchandise too. Something like this was truly needed in Nashville TN to represent an international music brand such as Gibson since the guitars are made in Music City!