Gibson to expand Bozeman factory following increased demand for guitars amid COVID-19

The Gibson Acoustic factory will add a custom shop and showroom while doubling its manufacturing space.

Gibson Acoustic Label

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Gibson will be expanding its factory in Bozeman, Montana following an increased demand for guitars amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The expansion of the Gibson Acoustic factory will double its manufacturing space, as well as add a new custom shop and showroom. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the facility will grow by 25,000 square feet to 48,000 square feet. Construction is expected to be completed in a year.

Gibson executives announced the plans at a ceremony last week (3 March). Gibson CMO Cesar Gueikian explained that the added space will lead to increased production and allow the brand to grow its Acoustic Custom Shop Historic and Modern collections. The expansion could also create 100 to 200 jobs.

James “JC” Curleigh, President and CEO of Gibson Brands, Inc., said that the onset of the pandemic last spring initially raised “more questions than answers” for the company.

“We were facing a factory shutdown with a pandemic that we didn’t really see coming,” he told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “We had guitar dealers that were closed that weren’t selling guitars.”

According to Curleigh, customers began buying guitars again by summer 2020 following the issuance of stay-at-home orders, which may have led to more time for people to embark on creative endeavours.

Curleigh’s recent comments echo those he made back in September 2020: “First we were figuring out the basic essentials – where to buy toilet paper, making sure you were isolated in quarantine,” he told the New York Times. “Then the psychological reset hit. People said, ‘Well, I can still self-actualise, I can still self-fulfil.’”

By late summer 2020, Gibson “literally couldn’t deliver enough [guitars]”, Curleigh added. “Everything we were making, we could sell.”

Yesterday (9 March), Gibson announced the first guitars from its Murphy Lab, a division of the Gibson Custom Shop led by guitar-ageing specialist Tom Murphy. The Murphy Lab Collection is described as a “greatest hits album” of Custom Shop reissues.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated the factory space will expand to 25,000 square foot. This is incorrect. The factory will expand by 25,000 square foot. The article has been amended.

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