Gibson vintage guitars have their roots in Kalamazoo, Michigan where, in 1894, an eccentric, self-taught luthier named Orville H. Gibson began making stringed instruments using the archtop design of violins as his guide. Although he began by making both guitars and mandolins, his first and only patent was granted in 1898 for a mandolin design.
Orville Gibson sold his company in 1902 and died in 1918, but his early affinity for mandolins presaged the first major success for the company that bore his name. In 1922, a Gibson engineer named Lloyd Loar designed the F5 mandolin, which featured an elevated fretboard over the instrument’s body and decorative f-holes.
Banjos would dominate the mid-1920s to mid-1930s for Gibson, but all along the company continued to make guitars. It was not recognized as a leader in this field until the 1930s when the guitar enjoyed a rise in popularity.
As with the Loar mandolin, these new 1930s Gibson guitars were archtops, usually with a trapeze tailpiece below the bridge to secure the strings and pickguards that seemed to float above the instrument’s body. The L4s of this period, which are not especially collectible despite their age, had round soundholes. The L5s, which are far more collectible, had f-holes. Other models of the day are the L7, L10, and L12, none of which were as desirable then — or as collectible today — as the L5.
The 1930s was also the decade when Gibson introduced its first electric guitars. Jazz guitarist Charlie Christian made the 1936 ES-150 famous — today, that guitar’s pickup is actually known as a Charlie Christian. After World War II, during which the company halted production due to a lack of supplies, Gibson introduced its first solid body electric guitar, the Les Paul.
There is some debate about who actually designed the Les Paul, which was introduced as a Goldtop in 1952. To hear guitarist Les Paul tell it, he is the man responsible for his namesake, but guitar author and collector George Gruhn believes the great musician may have had little do to with its design, and historians generally give Gibson president Ted McCarty most of the credit.
The collectibility of Les Pauls varies greatly depending on their vintage. Of the original, Standard models, the first Sunbursts are considered the Mother Lode of Les Pauls and e...
Another Gibson line that has proved very collectible are semi-hollow body ES 335s from 1958-1964, although the presence of a Bigsy vibrato on the guitar (a so-called whammy bar) makes it less valuable.
Key terms for Gibson Vintage Guitars:
Archtop: A stringed musical instrument whose top is rounded, either by carving a solid piece of wood or subjecting a laminated sheet to heat so it can be molded into the desired shape.
Sunburst: A finish for musical instruments that is light in the center and darker around the edges. Two of the most common sunbursts are cherry (yellow in the center fading to reddish on the outside) and three-color (yellow in the center, then reddish, then black at the edges).
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
The Les Paul Forum
Vintage Guitars Info
Vintage Guitar and Bass
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Gibson Guitars
Source: Google News
Gibson splices together guitar cable and recorderGizmag, April 23rd
Have you ever stumbled across a great-sounding riff while noodling away in the bedroom, only to find that by the time you've broken out your digital recording gear, you can't remember a note? The Memory Cable from Gibson Brands gets around such ...Read more
Former Korn Touring Guitarist Shane Gibson DiesLoudwire, April 15th
Sad news to report from the Korn family. Shane Gibson, who performed as a live member for Korn from 2007-2010, has passed away at the age of 35 from complications due to a blood clotting disorder. After the departure of Brian 'Head' Welch, Korn chose ...Read more
Gibson Guitar's Massman Drive property sells, but company not going anywhereNashville Post (subscription), April 14th
Gibson Guitar Corp.'s nearly 30-acre facility on Massman Drive has sold for approximately $15 million to an Arizona investment company, but the instrument manufacturer isn't moving anywhere. The deal, filed late Friday with the Davidson County Register...Read more
Gibson Guitar's Nashville factory sold for nearly $15MThe Tennessean, April 12th
An affiliate of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based STORE cq.; it's an acronym Capital Corp. has bought property on Massman Drive that includes Gibson Guitar's plant for nearly $15 million. Overall, the buyer, Store Master Funding VI LLC purchased nearly 30 acres...Read more
The 405 Competition: A Gibson guitar, Sundance tickets and a chance to play ...The 405, April 11th
Gibson Brands and The 405 are offering one lucky band the chance to win a spot on the Gibson Sundance London Stage – located at the very hub of Sundance London – as well as a Gibson Les Paul guitar and tickets to a film premier at Sundance London ...Read more
Job fairs give those seeking employment a 'leg up'WMC-TV, April 8th
employment a 'leg up'. Posted: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 11:50 AM EDT. Updated: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 6:40 PM EDT. By Justin Hanson - bio | email. Employers are taking applications for jobs within City of Memphis, FedEx, MLGW, and Gibson Guitar...Read more
Hoffard: Tom Murphy has a golden touch when it comes to guitarsThe Southern, April 2nd
As a youngster, he searched for a fertile music field, found it in Colorado, played in the road bands for a couple country stars, worked for Gibson guitars, and then returned home to Marion, content to raise his family out of the limelight and open a...Read more
Gibson Guitar property under contractNashville Post (subscription), March 28th
The airport-area property home to the offices of iconic Nashville-based company Gibson Guitar Corp. is seemingly under contract, with local investor Gary McDaniel seeking to purchase it for an undisclosed sum. The two-building property sits on 3.56...Read more