Watch: Professional Mandolin Player Makes ‘Bucket List’ Pilgrimage to Gibson Factory in Kalamazoo
Scott Napier, who plays and teaches mandolin professionally, made a recent visit to the Gibson Guitar factory in Kalamazoo to play his vintage mandolin at the place it was crafted and first strung.
Napier shared his visit to Facebook stating,
Happening now- a bucket list moment for me. On the grounds of where my mandolin was strung up for the first time in early April of 1939. She still sings today.
And sing that old mandolin does. Check on this video:
The Gibson gods must have been listening and decided to weep tears of joy as Scott says the skies opened up with a torrential rain just after he fimed.
Napier brings some serious mandolin swagger to Kalamazoo. He's a professor at the Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music in Hazard. He has collections of music available and his bio shows off his bona fides:
...Ten years as a Lonesome Rambler, including a tour of Japan, The 4th of July Celebration at the Washington Monument, a Prairie Home Companion taping, “Alison Krauss and Friends” special on G.A.C. TV, a mandolin endorsement from Gibson, several album recordings, and many performance appearances on The Grand Ole Opry.
Gibson Guitars History Making Mandolins
You may be surprised to learn that the Gibson factory in Kalamazoo made mandolins, after all, aren't they known for guitars, particularly electric ones?
Guiatar historian and PremierGuitar.com commentator Zachary Fjestad fills in some history on the Gibson mandolin:
Gibson started out as a mandolin manufacturer—guitars didn’t come into their line until several years later....Gibson is responsible for coming up with the A- and F-style mandolins—the two most popular designs in the mandolin world.... Gibson also experimented with many other designs, such as accessible fingerboards, partially hollowed necks, and violin-style soundboards.
The rest of the article is a fascinating deeper dive look at the Kalamazoo-made mandolins. Gibson mandolins are still made today at the company's acoustic facility in Bozeman, Montana.
New life is coming to the old Gibson factory on Parsons Sstreet in Kalamazoo as Hard Rock has plans to renovate the property for a hotel and resort.
More Scott Napier Mandolin Sounds
Enjoy more sounds of Scott and those Gibson mandolins: