SG Standard manufacture move to N'ville

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by SG Champagne, Aug 14, 2014.

  1. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    Do we have a definite date on when the SG Standard was made in Kalamazoo for the last time?

    What about the date of manufacture for the first SG Standard made in Nashville?

    I looked for this info on the internet, but, I can't find the answer.

    Thanks.
     
  2. JohnnyGoo

    JohnnyGoo Well-Known Member

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    Well youll get ur answere soon.theres people on here that know alot of that stuff.this forum is great for info like that.
     
  3. 58pit

    58pit Well-Known Member

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    Well, I don't know if this helps. But I do know all Gibsons made 1984 and back, were Kalamazoo. 85-and up were Nashville. Exact dates, like Johnny said, some one here may know.
     
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  4. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    Exact dates would be nice, but, may not be available.

    Do we know for sure that Gibson SG Standards from 1985 forward were all made in Nashville and that all Gibson SG Standards from 1984 back were made in Kalamazoo?
     
  5. 58pit

    58pit Well-Known Member

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    The way I understand it, that would be correct.
     
  6. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    I'm pretty sure some SGs came out of Nashville as early as the late 70s, though perhaps not Standards. Nashville opened in '75 and Gibson was out of the Kalamazoo plant by Sept. of '84. By mid '85, Heritage was renting most of the working space at the Kalamazoo shop, but that's just my twopence. Add $2.00 and you can buy a cup of Joe.
    Kris Ford, help!
    ;>)/
     
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  7. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    I have a 1979 Standard SG made in Kalamazoo, so, my focus is on the SG Standard.

    The 1980 SG Standard has some different features, such as the side input for the cable. I'm wondering whether Gibson waited for the switch to N'ville for the SG Standard before introducing this new feature that would require a new manufacturing technique.

    That's why I am curious with regard to this question. I assume that SG Standard manufacture all switched over at the same time to N'ville. That is to say, I assume that at no time did Gibson manufacture the SG Standard at both the Kalamazoo and N'ville plants. That is just a guess on my part. I could be wrong.

    Kris will chime in when he has time, I'm sure.
     
  8. Kris Ford

    Kris Ford Well-Known Member

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    Ok..this is one of Gibson's biggest mysteries..the only hard evidence I've ever been able to find states that starting in '77 with the stamped serials with the last 3 digits..ie, 001-499=Kalamazoo and 500-999=Nashville..so perhaps this applies to SGs as well...and with the oft repeated and highly ambiguous phrase "production tapered from K-zoo to Nashville" I highly doubt we'll ever have a definitive answer, as there are so many conflicting "facts"..

    The reason they moved there was brought on by labor strikes, so they went where unions didn't exist..kinda shitty Gibson...boooo!
     
  9. DoodoaXD

    DoodoaXD Well-Known Member

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    I ask it: what's the difference if SGs were made in different places?
     
  10. 58pit

    58pit Well-Known Member

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    And...BOOM, there ya have it!
     
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  11. 58pit

    58pit Well-Known Member

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    Stinky azz Norlins. (not)
     
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  12. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    Thanks Kris.

    It's not unreasonable to guess that the switch for SG Standards happened beginning with the 1980 model, because of the changes from the 79 model to the 80 model.

    I wish that we had some 1980-83 SG Standard serial numbers to look at to see whether any were made in K-zoo.
     
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  13. Kris Ford

    Kris Ford Well-Known Member

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    Yep, no prob!:thumb:
    Here's some food for thought..
    Gibson 1980 SG Firebrand Deluxe | eBay
    Vintage 1980 Gibson SG Standard | eBay
    1980 Gibson SG Firebrand Ebony Fretboard T Top Velvet Brick Pickups 6 lbs 11 Oz | eBay
    Vintage 1980 Gibson USA The SG Electric Guitar w Hardshell Case | eBay
     
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  14. LeadFinger

    LeadFinger Well-Known Member

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    "The reason they moved there was brought on by labor strikes, so they went where unions didn't exist..kinda shitty Gibson...boooo!"

    Gibson was a big deal in Kalamazoo. At one point I rode past that old plant on a Harley with a Michigan gal on the back, and felt pretty fking American.
     
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  15. JohnnyGoo

    JohnnyGoo Well-Known Member

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    So Kris how many years did they make those models with the input jack not in the front and the pickup selector in a different spot ? Looks odd.
     
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  16. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    Hmmm. The 1980 SG Standard that is the same color and type as my 1979 has a serial number indicating that it was made in Nashville, not Kalamazoo.

    Interesting. Could it be that 1979 was the last year for Kalamazoo manufacture of the SG Standard?

    Thanks for posting.
     
  17. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    I do not personally know. I have only one Gibson guitar: a 1979 SG Standard that I have owned since 1980. It is completely stock in all respects, except for a recent refret.

    If we can determine that 1979 was the last year for the SG Standard made in K-town, we will have another piece of the puzzle of Gibson history.

    I would love to determine that I have one of the last SG Standards made at the original Gibson factory.

    I'll keep checking, but, so far, all of the SGs and SG variations from 1980 and 1981 are made in N'ville.

    All 1970s SG Standards have a serial number indicating K town manufacture.

    Of course, I need to keep researching.
     
  18. Oldgibsonguy

    Oldgibsonguy Member

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    According to Gibson's published records the move from Parsons Street to TN lasted for almost ten (10) years, from 1974 to 1984. The Parsons Street location was used for acoustic and semi solid mfg., only for the period 1974 to 1984 as all solid body guitar manufacturing had already been moved to TN. I believe this to be accurate as I returned from Vietnam in 1974 and made a point to stop by the Parsons Street plant on the way home. That was a big deal for me and I remember the visit and tour in detail. I did not see any solid body guitars being manufactured at the time.

    I was carrying a 1971 LP "fretless wonder" I had bought at the Guam Academy of Music for $435.00 and didn't know solid body production had been moved. The guys were nice to me and buffed the guitar, which I sold in 1977 after my first daughter was born. The replacement? An SG.

    In 1985 Heritage used a small part of the plant for manufacturing, and the rest is history.
     
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  19. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    Part of it is USA politics... which may not be comprehensible by people in other nations.

    But part of it is this: During the 1950s and the 1960s there was conflict at Gibson. The workers were organized by a Labor Union in the 1940s during World War ll, (I believe it was the Steelworkers). During the 1950s the Union and the bosses disagreed about how much money the employees were to be paid,
    and what kind of working conditions the employees had to endure. Strikes occurred, which (to me) indicates a failure of leadership, both on the part of the Union and the Management.

    The Bosses responded by planning to move the factory to a place where workers were prevented by Tennessee State law from organizing. Politics again. And it took some years to put this plan into action.

    But to answer DoodoaXD's question: The workers in Kalamazoo Michigan were the same workers who built all of the best guitars in the world, the 1950s Les Pauls included. Lay politics aside for a moment, these workers knew how to make guitars. Gibson was a small company in the 1950s and 60s with a small number of highly skilled employees. When the company was purchased in 1969 by a foreign corporation merely looking for something profitable to exploit, the ideal of craftsmanship was abandoned in the name of increased production for profit.

    Guitars from this time period have a bad reputation, and this is why. They were made by good workers who were worried about their future. Many of the instruments made then are good, because the workers had a high skill level and pride in what they made. And the ones that are bad were made by craftsmen who were angry and anxious while they did their work. It's something that never changes.

    When the bosses built a new factory in Nashville Tennessee, they offered SOME of the employees jobs at the new plant. Not all wanted to move, and not all wanted to give up their Union benefits and work for less in a different place (and/or move their families). So the bosses hired new workers in Tennessee who did not know anything, but were willing to work for smaller wages/benefits. Guitars from this time period have a bad reputation, and this is why: They were made by new workers who had no experience or skill, but were willing to accept whatever the company offered.

    The way I see it, Gibson employees at the Nashville plant learned their jobs
    and became good workers. Gibson employees who were left behind in Michigan started a new company: Heritage Guitars. These craftsmen made guitars the way they knew how, the best way. They made them in smaller numbers and charged more money for them, but kept their integrity. And today Gibson has grown and prospered, and we all benefit by having many choices.
     
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  20. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    Great post, Col Mustard.

    When we view the whole matter from your post, it all makes sense.

    It's almost as if Gibson, if they were super-smart, would have moved the assembly line to N'ville and left a small "Custom Shop Gibson" in K-town.

    Sales of the Les Paul exploded in the 70s and would have challenged any guitar manufacturing firm. BUT, what about sales of the SG Custom and Standard? What about sales of these high-end SG models?

    If sales of the high-end SG models were slower, the pace of manufacture would be slower and it might be reasonable to guess that the 1970s high end SGs did not suffer quality problems to the extent that the Les Pauls and cheaper models suffered.

    I was a dues-paying Teamster for over 7 years, so, I have some experience in this area. I can imagine myself as a loyal Gibson employee and Union guy working in K-town during the mid 70s. I can understand how stressful it must have been to go through those work years and work days wondering how much longer I would have a job in my home town of Kalamazoo. I can imagine myself telling the wife and kids: "We may have to move to Nashville, TN in the near future -- and I'll be making less money and have fewer benefits there."

    I'm not saying that the company were bad guys, no. However, the loyal Gibson employees were certainly the good guys.

    What do we know about the quality of the high-end SG models during the Norlin years? These models were surely less popular than the wildfire that was Les Paul sales during the 70s. Did this translate into higher overall build quality, I wonder?
     
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