A Look Inside: Gibson Garage in Nashville, Tennessee

Published on 09 January 2023

The guitar universe is brimming with rumours that Gibson is planning to open their second Gibson Garage location very soon. Word on the street says it’s going to be in London! All UK-based guitar fans (including ourselves!) are impatiently awaiting the confirmation with the same excitement of a 6-year old promised a Disneyland trip! So, while we wait, we thought we’d let you in on a little journey of what it’s like inside the Gibson Garage in Nashville.

Yes, we have been there. No, it’s nothing like we thought it would be. It’s one hell of a lot more than what our guitar-shaped hearts could have ever dreamt of!

Where Your Dreams Come True

Garages may convey different meanings, depending whether you're a car enthusiast or a musician. If you’re the latter, like us, a garage is that special place where most of us musicians dare to dream the dream. Garages are magical places. When we were young, we’d go to our parents’ garage whenever we felt lonely or misunderstood, dragging a guitar behind us. Then we discovered the acoustics of the place. We’d unplug the fridge, plug in the amp and strum the 3 chords. We'd close our eyes and feel like we were playing to thousands in Wembley Stadium. That gave us courage to invite over that shy kid next door who we’d hear play drums in their garage. Next minute - a band is formed. Magic happens. 

And It was the same need for magic that inspired Gibson to create a space where nothing’s off limits and everything is possible, just like back in our teenage years. The Gibson Garage was born.

Enter The Paradise!

We’re in Downtown Nashville, the heart of Music City, and you can almost smell the rock & roll vibe in the air. This place is mesmerising: the sun is shining and you feel like a rockstar just walking down the street! We arrive at 10th Avenue South and the Gibson Garage ascends upon our eyes. Welcome to shredders’ Mecca!

The first thing you see as you come in is a gigantic neon Gibson logo above the reception. Hanging above you are 200 guitars on a conveyor belt. This isn’t your usual guitar store with slats on the walls: this is more like a toy shop you never knew existed! Gibson's Director of Brand Experience, Mark Agnesi, recalls that this display was inspired by the Nashville factory layout. This makes the space a uniquely different experience to any regular guitar shop.

We move around to see a splendid apparel display dotted about the entrance like a high-profile fashion store. Rare collections and limited run collaborations of jackets, t-shirts, bags and more can be purchased here. From stickers through homeware to apparel, if you haven’t left this place with a brand new guitar you’re guaranteed to at least grab yourself some sweet Gibson branded swag!

Spruce It Up

As we keep exploring this otherworldly space, we walk into the Acoustic Room. Made almost entirely from Spruce, the walls resonate as beautifully as the guitars you get to play in there. In fact, you can try just about any guitar your heart desires, from the entire Epiphone range through the Modern Collection to Gibson Custom Shop masterpieces. How often (aside from your local guitarguitar) do you get to see all these in one place? Grab a seat on a comfy leather couch and strum away. 

We look around and we notice screen displays with interactive brand storytelling, as well as your old school cabinets with extremely rare and historical treasury inside them. We’ve got an original Harp Guitar made by Orville himself ca. 1907 (does anyone know how to tune this thing?!). Another glass cabinet and even more vintage artefacts inside: a 1900’s mandolin - which after all was the instrument that started it all for Gibson - can be admired right here, fully intact. Or the 1938 Advanced Jumbo - which is in fact the first documented guitar that was ever played on television! And that’s just to mention a few.

Design Your Own Gibson

You’re a guitarist, you’re an artist and you want to stand out from the crowd. A one-off design is what you’re after. Say no more! Head to the Made To Measure Bar and make your wildest Gibson guitar dreams come true. From choosing your preferred flamed top (a selection of over 50 various slabs of book-matched woods at your fingertips), choose your pickups, add your favourite burst or colour, make it NOS, VOS or even Murphy Lab! You choose. Once you’ve designed the axe, the spec sheet along with your flamed top gets sent off to the skilled Custom Team - kick back and wait for the sweet delivery day!

Current Trends

Next up we’ve come across the Featured Bay. What you’ll find here are Gibson Garage Exclusive models, the Modified Collection, new launch products, Limited Runs and Artist Signature Collections. The display here changes basically every month! Dotted about in between are Mesa Boogie amplifiers to get you in that rockin’ spirit instantly. What a treat!

Epiphone Land

One of every model in the current Epiphone line-up, anyone? No problem, this room has them all! A rather striking visual representation of the brand if you will, you can pick up anything from their beginner’s range all the way through to USA-made numbers, in every available colour. 

The Stage

Part-showroom, part-venue: facing the very front of the Garage entrance is a massive stage. Not just a gimmick, this is a fully functioning venue hosting live performances, talks and jam sessions! Many come here just to spot a rockstar shopping for a new axe. Others come here to get spotted themselves. Either way, you get the picture: it’s the place to be.

A Metalhead’s Cave

If your head hasn’t exploded yet with visualising all the above, hang tight, we have more to tell you. The next room is not for the faint-hearted: the boldest, most vibrant and staggering of the Gibson Brands family: ladies and gentlemen, the Kramer room! The decor here is so OTT we don’t even know where to look. There’s a stack of old school TVs playing old school guitar ads, fitted onto a wall plastered with some 800-odd band and rock culture stickers - all meticulously selected by Agnesi himself. Look to the right and a wall of the latest Kramer axes finally materialises in front of your eyes like molten rock lava. 

Then you look closer and yet another surprising interior design hits you - the guitars are actually mounted onto a wall made of hundreds of cassette tapes! And let’s be clear, these are not just any tapes but tapes of Kramer artists from Van Halen to Def Leppard to Mötley Crüe! Can this place get any cooler, we ask?

The Artist Space

Yes. Obviously. It’s Gibson after all. The Artist Lounge (exclusively for the use of Gibson Brand Ambassadors like Jared James Nichols or Lzzy Hale to mention a few) is set up to be an Artist Relations Centre, content creation space as well as a Green Room for performing artists. 

Then there’s the Bellevue Lounge - a speakeasy kind of a vibe with a funky bar, lush velvet frock wallpaper, Italian glass chandelier and a record player. A man cave for Nikki Sixx, anyone? 

The Vault

And then there’s the library. Well, not exactly. An impressive collection of books may sound a little out of place for a garage, right? Right. Because it’s not really a library - it’s a secret passage to the Gibson Vault! No, we are not kidding you. This place is insane! The Vault is that holy, sacred chamber where the Golden Era classics live. Each in its own glass cabinet. If you’ve ever been to a high-profile art gallery, you may just get the idea of the feast you’re about to see here. We’ve got an original 1958 Korina Explorer nicknamed “The Big Ed” (one of the first 18 Explorers ever made, which has an interesting story but we’ll talk about this another time). The remainder is all cream of the crop: original 1957 Goldtop, one of the first 1959 Sunburst Les Pauls, Keith Richards' 1977 Mesa Boogie with cigarette burns on the wood tolex (!) and a multitude of other treasury you’ll find nowhere else.

Inspiration For Every Generation

The tour has come to an end and we couldn’t feel more energised and more inspired. There is plenty to be said for brands like Gibson, rich in history and legacy that lives on to inspire future generations. If you ever find yourself in Nashville, the Gibson Garage is simply not to be missed. Or…wait and see if the gossip checks out and they come to the UK, to your doorstep! In the meantime, check out our latest selection of Gibson guitars and keep the rockin' dream alive!


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