Waukesha is the Official Gibson Guitar Town

Les Paul_Around Waukesha


The city of Waukesha took delivery of 10-foot guitars Tuesday; guitars that will be the focus of a high-profile art project for the summer.

In comparison to Austin, Orlando and Miami, there’s Waukesha – the birth place and the resting place of Les Paul. Waukesha is the official Gibson Guitar Town. We’re extremely proud,” says Waukesha Guitar Town Committee member Lynn Gaffey.  Waukesha was chosen by Gibson just weeks ago and Les Paul had a lot to do with that decision. They wanted to help us celebrate him even more,” says Gaffey.

“To talk about them is one thing but to actually see them is another whole thing and I think the excitement is just going to continue to grow,” says Waukesha Guitar Town Committee member Norman Bruce.



Last summer, a group of artists began the Waukesha Gibson Guitar Project, with the mission of getting their city named as a Guitar Town.  It’s Gibson that chooses the cities to represent Guitar Town, along with giving the cities these massive guitars. “When you think of the other towns that are Guitar Towns it’s huge.

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Gibson provided 3 of the 10 foot guitars, the other 7 were funded by the city.  On top of that, the guitar developing giant is donating 15 Les Paul guitars.

Who will Decorate the Guitars?

Wisconsin artists will be chosen to decorate each one of the guitars before they are put on display throughout the city.

“We’re not going to be the best kept secret. We’re going to be a destination for people to come and hear music and see the artists, and see all of the things that Waukesha has to offer,” says Bruce.

While transforming into a Guitar Town, Waukesha is becoming a tourist destination, while in the process, it’s honoring a music legend who never lost sight of his roots.

The Waukesha Guitar Town Committee plans to announce the artists chosen to decorate the guitars and the locations of where the guitars will be on display by the end of February.

The big event is June 1st when 20 Les Paul fiberglass guitars – 10 of which will be 10-foot tall – are set to be unveiled at various locations throughout the downtown area.  It’s a week before Paul’s birthday and the first day of the Friday Night Live summer music festival. On that day, all eyes – at least those affiliated with the music industry – will be on the City of Waukesha.

How it all Happened

If Les Paul had not been born in Waukesha and had such an influence on the music industry, none of this would happen. But Waukesha receiving this recognition can be traced back to Seymour. As members of the Waukesha West End Artists, Seymour said he and Gaffey were looking for a “guitar-focused project for downtown to honor one of Waukesha’s most famous visionaries.”

Seymour, who started the popular downtown art crawls 15 years ago, searched the Internet and ran into the Gibson GuitarTown website last year.

“He was like, ‘That would be perfect for Waukesha!’ ” Gaffey recalled.

The idea was then presented to Mayor Jeff Scrima.

“Our mayor is extremely proactive in supporting the arts, and I knew he would be excited about this and would want to pursue this,” Seymour said. “I think he handled it very well in helping turn it from an idea into a reality.”

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More About the Celebration on June 1st

Major officials with Gibson Guitar (based in Nashville) will be on hand. Notables in the music business might also attend as well as music enthusiasts and Les Paul fans, just as they were at the Prairie Home Cemetery last September when the Les Paul memorial was revealed at his grave site.

“It should be as electric as Les Paul’s life,” local artist and developer Jeff Seymour said. “It will be an incredible event. It’s sponsored by Gibson and I’m sure they know how to throw great parties.

“It could be a huge thing certainly from the standpoint of tourism. What’s cool is it’s going to attract everyone from the average person to celebrities. When people hear about this and see us listed next to London, its crazy.”

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