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Weber Big Sky Acoustic Archtop

While the name Weber may not yet ring a bell in the minds of guitarists, it’s far from obscure in the tight, friendly, roots-music community. Mandolinists have trusted the brand since it rose from the ashes of the former Flatiron mandolin operation in Bozeman, Mont.

In 1987, Gibson USA, which has a guitar-production plant in Bozeman, purchased the Flatiron factory, whose luthiers had been crafting mandolins since 1979. After 10 years of ownership Gibson moved the Flatiron business to Nashville, Tenn., leaving the factory’s workers to choose between uprooting and heading east or finding new work locally. Montana must truly be beautiful, because all of the Flatiron employees elected to stay there, and many eventually took jobs with the fledgling company Sound to Earth. Founded in part by Bruce Weber, a former Flatiron luthier, Sound to Earth has in the ensuing eight years produced mandolins from its factory, presently located in a converted schoolhouse in Logan, Mont., and seen the Weber name become ubiquitous in roots-music scenes worldwide.

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