During the first week of May 2010, Nashville endured its most profound natural disaster to date. Following several days of unwavering driving rain, much of the city lay underwater; houses, cars and lives were lost. Musical landmarks like The Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center all sustained significant damage as the waters rose.
In an industrial warehouse cast in the shade of an overpass bridge, Gibson Guitar's Repair & Restoration shop lies in downtown Nashville, several miles away from the bustle of the corporate office. After being buzzed into the building, you come face to face with rugged workstations and racks of guitars earmarked for repair – some for minor touch-ups and others in need of total makeovers. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, one such guitar waited in limbo in Gibson's R&R department for several years before the terrific Todd Money, longtime manager of Repair & Restoration, adopted it as a pet project.
Only a month after Kings of Leon frontman Caleb Followill smashed his No. 1 guitar — a vintage Gibson ES-325 — on-stage at Scotland's T in the Park Festival, the Gibson Repair & Restoration department returned the good-as-new guitar to its owner.
Too often you hear stories about older people who lose their zest for life. This is not that story.
When WWF wrestling legend and Blues Guitarist, Hillbilly Jim, brought his Gibson J-45 into the shop, it looked like it had just lost a cage match....with a package delivery service (who shall remain nameless)! The defeating blow to the guitar was delivered during transport from New York to Nashville.
As the storm surge floodwaters poured into her Gulfport, Mississippi home, Rebecca Powers made a last minute rush from her attic to save two things: her 1967 Gibson B-25 and her dog Casey. A few minutes later, as wind tore pieces of the roof away, Rebecca and her husband Ben made the desperate jump from a second story window into the dark, dirty water all around them. She was forced to leave her guitar behind, along with everything she owned, to save herself.
Just before the 2005 holidays, while cleaning out the attic, Sharon Ness of Clarksville, TN discovered her 84-year-old mother's Gibson acoustic—an Army Navy Special, circa 1920. Sharon's father, a musician, had bought the guitar for her mother for $15.00 at a pawn shop in 1939. Her mother learned to play by ear, and her parents spent many wonderful years playing music together.
Finding a good repair and restoration shop for your guitars and amps has never been easy. Second hand recommendations can be dicey, because you can't always trust the experience and judgment of the person making the recommendation. We have also observed that some people who have cultivated reputations as an authority on repairs don't always perform up to their billing (and they often delegate most of their work to an employee while you pay extra for the name on the repair bill). By now you are probably familiar with the people we recommend – all the Plek-equipped guitar repair shops throughout the U.S., and for amps, Don Butler in California, Todd Sharp in Nashville, Jeff Bakos in Atlanta and Peter van Weelden in Apeldoorn, Netherlands.
Astronaut Robert “Hoot” Gibson shares not only a name with America's signature guitar company, but he also shares Gibson's passion for the guitars. Born in the mid-40s in New York, “Hoot” Gibson grew up in California and spent most of his life interested in and studying science and engineering, and also playing guitar.