Heritage Guitars

Coordinates: 42°18′06″N 85°34′51″W / 42.3017302°N 85.5808211°W / 42.3017302; -85.5808211
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

42°18′06″N 85°34′51″W / 42.3017302°N 85.5808211°W / 42.3017302; -85.5808211

Heritage Guitar
IndustryMusical instruments
Founded1985; 39 years ago (1985)
FounderJim Deurloo, Marv Lamb,
and JP Moats[1]
ProductsElectric guitars

Heritage Guitar is an American musical instrument manufacturer company based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States.[2] The company produces a range of electric guitars, including hollow-body models.


Heritage Guitar was founded in 1985 by three former employees of the Gibson guitar factory,[3] Jim Deurloo, Marv Lamb, and JP Moats.[1] Two other former Gibson employees that took part in the company were Bill Paige and Mike Korpak.[4]

In the early 1980s, Gibson closed its historic Parsons Street factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan, due to excess production, and relocated much of its production to its factory in Nashville, Tennessee.[5] Some of the Gibson employees who did not move to Tennessee started production of guitars under a new name, "Heritage," which was likely meant to stake a claim to their guitar-making tradition.[5] The company produced instruments in much smaller numbers than Gibson had.[3][6][7]

The Heritage line initially consisted of electric and acoustic guitars, electric basses, mandolins, and a banjo. The line was eventually narrowed to electric guitars only. Although most of Heritage's guitars were based on Gibson designs, a few of their early electric guitars were based on modified Stratocaster and Telecaster designs.[speculation?]

Current status[edit]

Archtop full-hollowbody[8]

Heritage Guitars is a boutique manufacturer, making semi-hollow guitars, large jazz boxes, and solid-body electrics.[3] Heritage makes guitars that are said to have been similar to Gibson's products,[3][10] which the company's advocates and fans would say are constructed in a much more "handmade" fashion and with more attention to detail.[11] The result of Heritage being a smaller operation than Gibson is probably a reaction against the cost-cutting practices that developed at Gibson under Nolin's ownership.

The design of the Heritage H-150 solid-body guitar is modelled on the Les Paul Standard, while the H-575 resembles the ES-175 and the H-535 reinterprets the ES-335. All Heritage full-body semi-acoustics have solid wood tops, while many of the Gibson guitars of this type had laminated tops after World War II.[5] Heritage has also introduced several new designs, such as the Millennium models, which employ a "semi-solid" body that is more solid than a traditional semi-hollow design, but chambered. The guitars are made without the use of CNC machines for woodworking.[citation needed]

During the first several years of the company, Heritage advertised its guitars in guitar magazines. The marketing was handled by the former VP of Sales at Gibson, Lane Zastrow. The advertisements wrote that Heritage was making guitars on Parsons Street in Kalamazoo, without mentioning Gibson by name. In the 1990s, in an attempt to keep costs down, the company stopped advertising.[12]


Johnny Smith[edit]

In 1989, jazz guitarist Johnny Smith withdrew his endorsement from Gibson and awarded it to Heritage, which began production of "Heritage Johnny Smith". The Gibson model continued in production as the "Gibson LeGrand".[13] Smith had since moved his endorsement from Heritage to the Guild Guitar Company.[13]

Alex Skolnick[edit]

Alex Skolnick playing his signature H-150
David Becker playing a H-575
Roy Clark playing a H-535 [9]

Guitarist Alex Skolnick, of the band Testament, formerly endorsed Heritage Guitar. For a short time, the Heritage Guitar company offered an "Alex Skolnick signature model H-150". In 2013, Skolnick announced his endorsement of ESP Guitars. Skolnick is now an endorser of Godin Jazz guitars.

David Becker[edit]

Jazz guitarist, composer, and two-time Grammy nominee David Becker has been endorsing Heritage Guitar for more than 30 years. He was one of the first artists to join Heritage in 1988. The "David Becker H-575 Signature Model" features a solid spruce top, maple sides and back, and a humbucker and piezo pickup.[14]


Jazz guitarist, producer, and composer Henry Johnson was the second endorser of Heritage Guitar, beginning in 1985. Country musician Roy Clark endorsed Heritage Guitar,[14] which make his signature model. Jazz guitarist Mimi Fox's guitars are a "Golden Eagle" and an H-575 custom with a spruce top. American jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell plays a "Heritage Super KB" hollow body through a "Heritage 1 x 12 Kenny Burrell" combo amp.[14]


  1. ^ a b Our Story on Heritage website, 15 Oct 2019
  2. ^ "Our Story". Heritage Guitars. Retrieved 2023-06-08.
  3. ^ a b c d Bacon 1991, p. 151
  4. ^ Dickerson, Deke (June 2016). "Out of the Woods, Off the Wall: The Gibson Wall-Board Guitar". pp. 104–106.
  5. ^ a b c Freeth & Alexander 1999, p. 106
  6. ^ Hembree, Gil (2007). Gibson Guitars: Ted McCarty's Golden Era, 1948-1966. Hal Leonard. pp. 58–59. ISBN 978-1-4234-1813-9.
  7. ^ Carter, Walter (2007). The Gibson Electric Guitar Book: Seventy Years of Classic Guitars. Backbeat Books. pp. 100–101. ISBN 978-0-87930-895-7.
  8. ^ "2013 Heritage Sweet 16 [Serial #: AP35101, Kalamazoo label]". archtop.com. The Sweet 16 is noteworthy as well in matching its 16 body with a full length 25 1/2" L-5 scale, a combination virtually unique in either contemporary or vintage archtop design. In addition, the full-size floating humbucking pickup allows the solid carved soundboard to resonate to its fullest acoustic capacity.
  9. ^ a b "H-535 – Semi-Hollow Body". Guitars. Heritage Guitar, Inc. Retrieved 2016-04-27.
  10. ^ Freeth & Alexander 1999, p. 107
  11. ^ Freeth & Alexander 1999, pp. 106–107
  12. ^ Nixon, Alex (Kalamazoo Gazette) (4 November 2007). "Guitar hero: Local attorney swoops in to save Heritage Guitar -- and fulfill a dream". MLive Media Group. (See also Kalamazoo Heritage Guitar - Mlive. YouTube.)
  13. ^ a b Chapman 2002
  14. ^ a b c "Heritage Signature Artists". Artists. Heritage Guitar, Inc. Retrieved 2016-04-27.


External links[edit]