Heritage Guitar Inc. of Kalamazoo – Our Story
Heritage Guitar Inc. of Kalamazoo – Our Story


Because I play all of ’em, and the steel pretty
good, and the bass a whole lot. The guitar is something that is interpreted
by different people, in different ways. It’s only got six strings, usually 22 frets,
sometimes 24, at the most. Every one that I’ve worked on, on those millions
of guitars I’ve worked on, they’re all a little different. The neck is a little different, they feel
a little bit different. As you age, your ear picks up different frequencies,
and that’s the fun of playing guitar, and the mystery of it. Well, my Dad took me through here on a tour
when I was 11 years old, and um, ’cause I was taking lessons on lap steel at that time. And they were working on Eddie Arnold’s guitar
at that time, and I just thought that was so cool. So, I came here and got a job shortly after
I graduated. I went to work May 31st, 1956 for Gibson,
and I worked all the way through until they closed down. I was 16 years old when I started here. Since 1975 is when I first came to work for
Gibson. So, it’s been 41 years I guess, coming to
this building. Well, I came looking for a job in 1958, they
hired me, and I started sanding rims just on the other side of that wall. I’ve worked here for 31 years— Gibson 22,
my Dad 37. So, I’ve been around this old building for
over 50 years, we’ll put it that way, that’ll cover the ground. I’m as old as that dirt down there! [Laughs] I like things mechanical, ya know? But, because of my experience with Gibson,
that was kind of what we turned out to be, we’re guitar makers. I always said that, ya know, Heritage is more
than our name, it’s what we are. When I started here at Gibson in ’61, there
were I think around 300 people, and I went in the service in ’66 and came back in ’68
and there were over 1000, as I recall. And we closed the plant in June of 1984. June 30th, 1984 was the last production here. We re-incorporated in 1985, April 1st as Heritage
Guitar, and that was how we started. And in the beginning, we weren’t making just
guitars, we were making van parts and anything else we could make to sell. It was not the easiest thing to do. As a matter of fact, we went to the trade
show and nobody needs another guitar company, and they still don’t. [Laughs] They’re all handmade made in the USA. We don’t import and stick ’em together and
call them American made. And we made flat tops, banjos, mandolins,
basses. I think that’s real important, because it’s
what people want now days, I think, people who care. They want things that are handmade and some
effort put into them. We don’t have programable machines that copy
one neck after another or one body after another. They’re all a little different, each instrument
can have its own feel. We can’t sell an American made product that
is second rate, it has to be first rate in every way. Now, there’s no such thing as a perfect guitar,
but we strive for perfection every day. We sold our company to Archie and Jeff and
they’ve owned it now since April 1st 2016. Uh, they have the same start date, April 1st,
as we had in 1985… April 1st, April Fool’s Day, so they’ll
have the same luck we’ve had. [Laughs] Luck is not a plan, neither is hope,
so. Heritage has had their 31 years and
now somebody else has taken the name over, and I think it’s going to be great. Ya know, I see myself and all these guys around
here, ya know, and I was there once. And I’ll continue to come down and help
Archie and those guys because I… I really have a lot of confidence in them. We we’re getting too old to run a business,
ya know? And I think it was time. I think in our world it’s not to restore
225 to a building or a place that builds mass production instruments, but it’s to be a
place where people will come and understand the history of what the American guitar was
all about, come and understand the future of hand-crafted American made guitars, and
I hope the community of Kalamazoo embraces it, I hope the state of Michigan embraces
it… And um… I’m excited! Um, I don’t care about my personal legacy. What I want is… is a company to, uh, survive,
to take good care of the people that we have here. Uh, that’s really what I want. Ya know, I want them to be able to, uh, make
a good living off it, to take care of them and their family. That’d be…That’d be good enough for
me.

23 thoughts on “Heritage Guitar Inc. of Kalamazoo – Our Story”

  1. galactagog says:

    nicely done!!

    excellent promo vid….keep up the good work!

  2. Mr. Stevens says:

    Damn great stuff and history. Why is it so difficult to find in europe good dealers ? I really would like to play a heritage for testing. So take my best regards to your awesome guys and i wish your company all the best !🇬🇧🇬🇬

  3. Sam Clayton says:

    I was gonna buy a used heratige H 535 but after watching these videos I'm gonna buy a new one to help the company

  4. Chris Lester says:

    Yes, the world does need "another guitar company". Too many companies go through the motions without any real heart. I truly appreciate that you guys care about what you are doing and honor the history behind the designs that you represent. I first learned about you from Gary Moore and always heard about how great your guitars were/are. In fact, I never heard a bad thing about Heritage which is really saying something. Thank you for doing what matters. Keeping the "heart" in your craft.👍🏻

  5. Elvis says:

    Looks where Gibson goes today, I admire and appreciate your works. Go on gentlemen.

  6. Jorge Gonzalez says:

    I have 1989 H-535 and just love it. Everyone always complements how beautiful the guitar is. It is a work of art.  Thank you Heritage!

  7. Dr Christoph Schäfer says:

    I purchased a Les Paul from Heritage Guitars in 1993 (flame top, zebra coloured pickups from Seymour Duncan). The last eight years the guitar was stored in an unheated garden shed with high temperatures during the summer and freezing temperatures in winter time. I took it out of the case yesterday and with a new set of strings it plays just beautifully. These instruments are built to last!

  8. gerardo avila says:

    Let's help together

  9. 1mespud says:

    If you want a "real" Gibson, then buy a Heritage!

  10. Volodymyr Voznyak says:

    My favorite guitars!!! My H-140 gold top(1989) and H-575 (natural) from 1987 are simply AMAZING!!! THANK YOU!!!

  11. Alf Tupper says:

    Good to see and I hope the company prospers.

  12. Deep Bass says:

    Stopped by to have frets dressed on a brand "G" SG in 1964. Got a great factory tour too.
    Stopped by again in 2008 to have frets dressed on my Heritage H-150 and got another factory tour. Strange parking lot! When I think of holy places, Parsons street is high on the list.

  13. Rick Barnes says:

    I toured that factory back in 1968. Great memories for me, being a ten year old! I love that the tradition is still going..

  14. Edad Martin says:

    Really hope the new owners dont ruin this great company. Remains to be seen.

  15. rennie murgh says:

    heritage is the real gibson company with nice expierienced working guys. thanks for the epiphany

  16. John B Vavrek says:

    This should be a Movie !!!!

  17. Elizabeth Dobson says:

    Love my Heritage 535 which is second to none and an awesomely beautiful guitar!

  18. GUITARSSful says:

    I love that these guitars are 100 percent handmade American made .i mean I know that's what I want ,and I think that's what a lot of people that play guitar ,and love guitars wants .i mean you can go with some CNC machines on some things but for the most part please stay handmade

  19. shecky308 says:

    We miss Aaron Cowles and J.P.Moats ..We will never forget you and all others associated with thi building..!!

  20. rossco robert says:

    I love these guys

  21. rossco robert says:

    Give these guys some love people these are the ultra purist and do an amazing job

  22. reffoelcnu alouncelal says:

    It’s great to see a real American guitar that hasn’t shut down and moved to Mexico .

  23. Marc Cuomo says:

    Great work guy's.

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