It started with a mandolin
Kalamazoo’s history with the guitar dates back to the late 1800’s when a man by the name of Orville Gibson arrived in town and began designing his own innovative mandolins. By the early 1900’s, his company was also producing guitars and other stringed instruments and, throughout most of the next century, the Gibson Guitar Corporation grew to become the world’s premier guitar manufacturer. From 1917, that growth occurred at the historic 225 Parsons Street location, until 1984 when the company left Kalamazoo for good, closing the doors on the iconic factory.
Not long after, a few former senior employees had decided they wanted to continue the tradition of handcrafting beautiful, high quality electric guitars in Kalamazoo. By the spring of 1985, those individuals had acquired space at the former factory, purchased a lot of the old guitar-making equipment, and were ready to roll.
History meets experience
The original owners of Heritage, Jim Deurloo, Marv Lamb, and JP Moats, had a combined 84 years of guitar-building experience among them when the company began. In time, they added Bill Paige and Mike Korpak as co-owners. Mike left shortly after joining, but Jim, Marv, and Bill are still active in the daily business. Between the three, they hold over 160 years of knowledge that every day is passed along to the next generation of American luthiers.
Sadly, JP Moats passed away in September 2015. He was a wonderful man and skilled craftsman, and his legacy lives on at 225 Parsons Street.
Built like no other
The first guitar Heritage introduced was the H-140 solid body single cutaway electric guitar, which premiered at the 1985 NAMM show in New Orleans. Over the years, Heritage has built a small array of various instruments, including banjos, mandolins, flat tops, and basses. However, with the demand for the guitars increasing, the company decided to focus exclusively on making the world’s greatest hollow, semi-hollow, and solid body electric guitars.