Bringing the world to Chattanooga one guitar at a time
Walking into the Songbirds museum instantly inserts you into a never-ending story. The art, the history, and the vast memories and stories attached to each guitar is breathtaking. The intertwining of art, history, and stories may not be what you expect from a guitar museum, but at Songbirds, it’s truly an enlightening experience for guitar enthusiasts, art lovers, and history buffs.
Located in The Chattanooga Choo Choo, this nearly 20-year project has finally come to an end, and the result is quite amazing. When entering the Songbirds Museum, the character of the building really shines through. The museum has beautiful industrial ceilings, and a mysterious rock star ambiance. This is something museum president Johnny Smith said he wanted to keep intact, and was one of the most interesting aspects of the entire project.
Smith said, “The process of converting the building was really unique experience, using only Chattanooga vendors, we wanted to keep the character of this historic building.”
The Songbirds Museum is currently displaying 551 beautifully crafted guitars. These instruments are pieces of art, and are displayed as such. With large glass cases surrounding the museum, the easy flowing floor plan allows for the viewers to peruse the displays throughout the first room before ending up near the intimate, but professional stage that musicians will be dying to play for years to come.
When walking past the stage you enter a small corridor that leads to the green room. The green room is also set up with small displays of various guitars, mostly from the 50’s and 60’s. But then you see it: the vault. From the outside, the vault is alluring and not easy to access. But if you decide to take the all access tour, you will not be disappointed.
Within the vault are some of the rarest, most beautiful guitars in the world. The vault is gorgeous with dim lighting, and contains singular display cases for each guitar with spotlights that hit the instruments just right. With a fresh and woodsy smell, it’s like entering one of the most exclusive cigar rooms in the world, but instead you’re entering a room filled with some of the most valuable and finely crafted guitars ever made.
The history within this museum was a common theme throughout the Songbirds Grand Opening event last Thursday. With country music superstar Vince Gill, Songbirds CEO David Davidson, and President Johnny Smith on stage, it was clear the history and art surrounding us was immense.
When the panel was asked “Why Chattanooga?” Smith replied without hesitation, “Why not Chattanooga?” Songbirds fit Chattanooga and “Chattanooga needed this,” Smith said. When you consider “all the traveling musicians who came in and out of Chattanooga through the Choo-Choo,” it’s fascinating, and made it clear that Chattanooga was the right place for the Songbirds Museum.
When visiting Songbirds, you can both see and feel the vast amount of work that went into making Songbirds a reality. And let me tell you, acquiring these guitars wasn’t easy. When I asked CEO David Davidson the furthest he had to go to get some of these guitars he said, “We go anywhere and everywhere, but the furthest we have gone was Japan.”
The history and stories attached to these guitars are endless. Besides the history, Vince Gill had another reason why he wanted to be apart of this unique project. Gill talked about how we always seem to gravitate towards what we are passionate about, and for Gill “its all about searching and finding that instrument that may sound just a little bit different.”
Chattanooga is now home to the Songbirds Museum, and Chattanooga residents should be excited about this unique museum and tourist attraction. The Songbirds Museum is one of a kind, and is essentially the hall of fame of guitars.