A trio of Heritage guitars

Heritage Guitars lays off workers

In perhaps another sign of tough times for makers of electric guitars, Heritage Guitar Inc. has shrunk its workforce in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Heritage is best known for taking over the former Parsons Street factory guitar maker Gibson left behind when that company moved its production and workforce to Nashville in the mid-1980s.

Michigan television station said this week that fourteen workers are off the job at Heritage, with 10 workers being terminated and other resigning.

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Heritage released a statement to the station saying, “Our focus on building a foundation for 2018 and beyond requires an emphasis on quality over quantity. The Heritage guitars team are committed to building a healthy and sustainable business that consistently produces amazing, high quality instruments for many years to come in Kalamazoo.”

Last year, the company was preparing to celebrate 100 years of making guitars in Kalamazoo and had cemented a partnership with Rolling Stone LLC to celebrate the centennial.

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The Heritage/Gibson factory opened 1917. Several of Gibson’s senior workers chose to remain in Michigan when Gibson left for Tennessee. They bought some of Gibson’s old production equipment, formed Heritage in 1985 and make what some guitar players consider high-quality examples of Gibson-style guitars.

Meanwhile, Gibson itself is facing its own challenges.

Gibson’s chief financial officer left the company six months before $375 million of senior secured notes were due to mature, according to a Nashville Post story earlier this month.

Gibson has hired investment bank Jeffries to help with its situation, and the guitar maker has expressed confidence that it will pay back its debts.

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