This post is a contribution from Mike Reed, one of our 2010 IBMA correspondents. See his profile here.
I had an opportunity to catch David Harvey (head of the Mandolin, Banjo and Resonator side of the Gibson Company in Nashville) in the hall prior to one of the workshops this morning for an unofficial update on the Gibson facility at the Opry Mills Mall. I asked about the impact that the flooding in Nashville had on their production facility earlier this year.
The flood caught the Opry Mills facility midway between the planned move to the Custom Shop location (also in Nashville) that had started in April. Dave noted that at the time of the flooding most of the material, equipment, tools and fixtures were packed and crated in pallets on the floor. At the peak of the flooding there was 2-2 1/2 feet of water in the facility. Needless to say there was a lot of damage. Dave noted that the return of instrument production is well underway, in the order of mandolin, banjo and then resonator guitars, all at the new Custom Shop facility.
David also mentioned the work that his team is doing to completely map and record measurements on two historic mandolins, both belonging to Ricky Skaggs. One is a July 9, 1923 Lloyd Loar (same date as that belonging to Bill Monroe) and the other is Ricky’s 1924 Lloyd Loar “Boone Creek.” To many, a signed Lloyd Loar Gibson F-5 is considered the ultimate bluegrass mandolin. Fortunately neither of these were damaged in the flooding.
David noted that the commitment to quality at Gibson has not – and will not – change as a result of the flooding damage and the move to the new facility. Dave emphasized that the folks who are building these instruments are not only skilled craftsmen but also accomplished players as well. He also mentioned the amount of instrument set-up work that he and his team handles for many major artists.
It was evident throughout this discussion that Dave Harvey is proud of the work and craftsmanship of his team and a sees a bright future for Gibson Original Acoustic Instruments.