The iconic guitar brand's flagship Nashville location has attracted icons such as actor Michael J. Fox and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin
A stop at the Gibson Garage is a must for any music lover rolling through Nashville.
The world-renowned guitar brand’s flagship location, designed by Director of Brand Experience and Gibson TV producer Mark Agnesi, opened in 2021. Speaking with PEOPLE on a VIP tour of the venue, Agnesi reveals a secret vault with some of the rarest guitars in the world and shares some of famous faces who have stopped by while in Music City, including Michael J. Fox and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin.
“Every Gibson electric is made in Nashville and every acoustic is crafted in Bozeman, Montana,” Agnesi explains. This has to do with the climate of those two places, as acoustics can largely be affected by swings in temperature, along with humidity.
Starting off in the main showroom, Agnesi shows off one of the location’s major highlights. “There are 200 guitars that go around the space,” he shares of the Garage’s guitars rotating overhead. “This is how the guitars come out after finishing at our factory.”
Instead of trying to line the walls with guitars “like every other guitar store in the world,” Agnesi says they decided on the conveyer.
There are another 200 guitars scattered throughout the space, which also features a custom shop. “Everything is nicely organized. And everything’s for sale.”
Agnesi points out Miranda Lambert’s new signature guitar model, the Bluebird, “which is based on the Hummingbird, but she also has a song called ‘Bluebird.’ so that served as the inspiration.”
“Many of our guitars are bird-themed,” Agnesi explains. “We had a woodworker in the 1960s who was an avid birdwatcher, so there’s the Bluebird, the Hummingbird, the Dove, the Sparrow, the Blackbird, the Raven.”
The brand dates back to 1894 when it was founded by Orville Gibson, who began making instruments in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Gibson will celebrate its 130th anniversary in 2024.
Over 125 years later, the Gibson Garage in Nashville is the “only place in the world where a customer can come and hand-select wood to create their own customized Les Paul,” Agnesi says, noting that there will be two locations once the Gibson Garage in London opens up early next year.
“A lot of what we do are very historic recreations of very specific guitars by year,” he says, pointing out Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett’s model. “This is his 1960 Sunburst Les Paul, known as ‘Sunny.' “
As for notable names who have stopped in, Darius Rucker performed last summer to benefit the National Museum of African American Music and Megadeth rocker Dave Mustaine did a signing in June for veterans through Gibson's philanthropic division, Gibson Gives.
“My two favorites I’ve given tours to are Robert Plant — on the anniversary of Led Zeppelin VI coming out,” Agnesi shares of the legendary performer, who is affectionately known as "Uncle Bob" to those in his inner circle.
Agnesi's other all-time favorite? Michael J. Fox, who was in town in May for an event held at Belmont University to raise funds for Parkinson’s disease research.
“Michael J. Fox is the reason I started playing guitar as a kid,” Agnesi fondly recalls.
“I was out there and there was a little bit of commotion in the acoustic room and I see him sitting there playing ‘Johnny B. Goode’ on the Hummingbird,” which is the same song Fox played as Marty McFly in the 1985 cult classic film Back to the Future, the exact pop culture moment that inspired Agnesi.
For the four years it has been posted to Universal’s YouTube page, the iconic guitar scene has garnered over 60 million views.
Though musicians and VIPs are often entertained in the private artist's lounge, where the secret "Vault" protecting rare guitars collectively worth millions is located, the rest of the Gibson Garage is open to the public.
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Guests can peruse its wooden works of art and try out their guitar skills even if they're not ready to buy. The store also features a ton of Gibson brand merch to scoop up for souvenirs on the way out.
The 8,000-square-foot space, which is open from 11 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and noon to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, offers intimate live music performances and events daily. It is also available to book for private events bound to impress any music-loving guest.
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