The most extensive display of vintage guitars in the world, Songbirds Guitar Museum, had it's grand opening planned for the weekend, celebrating a collection of more than 1,500 vintage guitars.
"You'll never see a collection like this anywhere in the world," Johnny Smith, president of Songbirds Guitar Museum, said.
Located at the Choo Choo in the heart of downtown Chattanooga, more than 500 guitars are on display at a time, and the whole collection is worth more than $200 million.
"It's just overwhelming, really," Vince Gill, Country Music legend, guitar collector, and Songbirds Guitar Museum ambassador, said. "They're as beautiful to look at as they are to hear as they are to play."
Gill visited the museum for the first time on Thursday, prior to the grand opening celebration, and said while it's a must-visit for guitar players, it's also a great experience for anyone who listens to music.
"It's more than just a tourist stop for you to go spend a couple hours and look at some old stuff," Gill explained. "You can go look at a certain guitar and go, oh, Jimi Hendrix played a guitar like that."
While there are plenty of guitars with pedigree, on their own, the guitars stand out.
30 Gibson Les Pauls from 1958-1960, also known as bursts, numerous Gibson Flying Vs, which are valued around half a million dollars, Gibson Explorers which have sold for more than $1 million, custom color Fender Stratocasters, Telecasters, and Precision Basses, and so many other unique and one-of-a-kind guitars.
David Davidson is the curator of the collection as well as the COO, and he, along with many experts, put the displays together in hopes that people will be able to travel through time through the guitars and learn not just about the guitars' history, but the history of music from Nashville to Memphis and all around the world.
When the guitars aren't on display, they will be used for recordings by professional musicians, and visitors to the museum will also have the opportunity to play some of the guitars, as well as receive lessons while attending the museum.
Songbirds Guitar Museum plans to cycle certain guitars out of their collection to keep the displays fresh, so while only 500 guitars are on display, they have 1,500 to choose from to keep people coming back and enjoying the amazing collection of guitars.