(WTNH) — John Thomas, a Professor of Law at Quinnipiac University, passionate about music, and a lover of guitar music has uncovered a story that has never before been reported. During World War II there were 70 women making guitars for Gibson in a plant in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Gibson had denied that they were making guitars during those tough times, but the company in fact did. The “Kalamazoo Gals,” also the title of a book Thomas wrote, made 25,000 musical instruments from 1942 until the end of 1945.
“During the War, a little golden banner went onto the top of the guitars (right under the Gibson name), it’s a silk screen banner which says ‘Only Gibson is Good Enough,'” said Thomas. “I named these banner guitars because it looks like a banner, and as fate would have it, that little banner slid onto the head stock in early 1942 and disappeared in late 1945, exactly when the women were building guitars. So if I find a guitar with the banner, I know women’s hands touched it. Now another interesting thing to me, it’s another bit of information I used to assert my thesis, if you will, that the real reason for covering this up was because women were making the guitars, and that is prior to the War and after the War, Gibson was the king of exaggeration. Every guitar was more beautiful then a Southern Belle. It’s tone was better than a babbling brook, unbelievable, all their advertisements, all their catalogs, all of their press information was exaggeration, except during World War II when women made guitars, and suddenly Gibson was good enough.”
It took five years and a ton of digging for Thomas to get the goods on this guitar factory story. The guitars made during that period are worth thousands, some up to $30,000.