Before any Gibson acoustic guitar hits the shelves of a store or ends up in the hands of a famous musician, it winds its way through the assembly line inside a sprawling factory on the north side of Bozeman.
A fleet of about 230 Gibson employees transform slates of walnut, mahogany, maple and rosewood into every acoustic guitar’s intricate dovetail neck and body. They slather on nitrocellulose lacquer, sand the edges and place the instrument in a machine that adds the frets.
Kennan Miller, a Gibson quality engineer and technician, estimated that there are more than 90 steps involved in the company’s guitar-making process. At the very end of the assembly line, a detail-oriented final inspector plays each instrument to make sure the tone is right.