The Heritage of Heritage Guitars

The Heritage of Heritage Guitars

Posted by Robinson Earle on Feb 27th 2020

    Heritage Guitars-Gibson's early influence

In the late 1800s, Kalamazoo, Michigan was a popular destination for wealthy Yankee farmers to send their sons to become leaders of industry. Born a New Yorker, Orville Gibson set up shop in Kalamazoo and acquired his first patent in 1894. Inspired by the subtleties of the violin, he recognized that the design of 19th century mandolins and guitars could be vastly improved. For example, the bowl-back, “tater-bug” mandolin featured back and sides made of bent wood strips, and a flat, canted top. He began producing instruments that instead featured solid, carved, arched tops and backs. The sides were likewise hewn from single pieces of wood. These new mandolins and guitars proved louder and more structurally stable, and a new era was born.

80 years later, Gibson had become a household name. Demand for their instruments (now mostly guitars) had grown so great that the company decided to relocate their base of operations. However, a small handful of employees decided they’d rather stay put, having grown attached to Michigan and the old factory in Kalamazoo. These loyal mavericks founded their own company in 1985, and named it Heritage as an allusion to their pedigree. They set out to make instruments in a more “hand-crafted” fashion than contemporary Gibsons, using better woods and materials, in addition to an old wood carver machine designed by the original employees of 225 Parsons Street. By the late 80s, acclaimed artists such as Johnny Smith, Kenny Burrell, and Roy Clark had embraced Heritage guitars, solidifying their reputation as makers of iconic instruments.

 

Heritage Guitars electric guitar models

The shapes and sizes of the current Heritage lineup will be familiar to most guitarists. The quality control, voicing, and attention to detail, however, will surpass your expectations. Also, their semi-hollows tend to be a tad thinner than their Gibson counterparts. Basically, the Eagle is their L5, the H-575 is their ES-175, the H-535 is their ES-335, the fully-hollow H-530 is their ES-330, the H-150 is their Les Paul, and the H-137 is their Jr. All these guitars come in an assortment of classic, delectable finishes, and can be modified, upgraded, and relic’d by the custom shop.

Over the years, Heritage Guitars have largely relied on the unrivaled enthusiasm of their players to sell their guitars. It’s a “gotta’ play it to believe it” proposition. They’re that good. Sticking with the old recipes and drawing on the magic contained within the walls of 225 Parsons Street has paid off. In a world where every new year seems to bring another overhaul of tradition, it’s refreshing to find a team of builders with real lineage who are dedicated to preserving the original masterpieces of American electric guitar craft.