In the fall of 2020, Gibson employees were searching deep in the company's archives when they came across an unmarked reel of film.
Producers at the company's Gibson TV network got ahold of the film, and had it digitally remastered. What sat on the reel was a 1967 documentary called An Instrument of the People, a fascinating, time capsule-like look at how guitars were crafted in Gibson's former factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Now, 55 years after it was shot, Gibson has finally released the footage to the public via its YouTube channel. You can see it for yourself above.
Over the course of 20 minutes, the film shows viewers just about every step of the guitar build process – from its beginning as a nondescript piece of wood to the final quality checks the finished instrument endured before leaving the factory.
Interestingly, because it was shot in 1967, Instrument of the People doesn't feature a single Les Paul. It would be another year before the legendary model returned to the Gibson catalog, after its iconic single-cut design was axed in favor of the SG in 1961 and discontinued.
According to Gibson – which replied to a handful of comments and questions from viewers on YouTube – "not much has changed" in the 55 years since the film was made. Gibson also says that, amazingly, the company still uses some of the very same machines featured in the film.
An Instrument of the People is also quite reminiscent of a slightly older mini-documentary on Fender's Fullerton, California facility from 1959. Like the Gibson film, it had been mostly forgotten, before receiving a loving digital remaster and upload to YouTube for 21st century eyes.