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).
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The Seven Most Expensive Guitars Ever: Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley ...Music Times, December 18th
Ten years ago on this date, a red Gibson SG was sold at auction for $570,000 at auction in New York City. As you can imagine, there was a story behind the value: George Harrison had used it during the recording of The Beatles' Revolver and John Lennon ...Read more
Fort Myers police need help identifying suspects in guitar theftsNBC2 News, December 18th
The Fender and Gibson guitars they stole are valued over $2,000. The offense happened on November 26, 2014 but was discovered a few weeks later during an audit. Police are asking the public to view the attached video surveillance depicting the crime...Read more
Gibson CEO: We're so much more than guitarsMarketplace.org, December 17th
Henry Juszkiewicz grew up playing guitar and played some gigs before becoming the CEO of one of the world's most recognizable music companies, Gibson. “My first band had an accordion, because we played a lot of weddings,” Juszkiewicz says...Read more
Bob Dylan Gibson Guitar In Canada At Better PriceOye! Times, December 10th
Bob Dylan has been a regular Gibson Montana customer for decades. He worked closely with Gibson to create these two models that will make a fan or guitar player nothing but ecstatic. I am sure Martin Guitar are envious that Gibson got this coup with...Read more
Floyd Rose gets ready to ship retrofit FRX tremolo system for Gibson guitarsGizmag, December 9th
A fair amount of precious wood can be sacrificed when installing a tremolo on a vintage Gibson guitar so that you can squeal or dive bomb like Satriani or Vai. Well, now you don't have to because Floyd Rose Marketing has opened up its FRX top mount...Read more
Corner Office: Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman/CEO of Gibson Brands, on ...Billboard, November 24th
A guitarist himself, Juszkiewicz, 61, bought a nearly bankrupt Gibson Guitar Corporation in 1986, just seven years out of Harvard Business School, and promptly went about diversifying the brand with lines of drums (Slingerland) and keyboards (Baldwin...Read more
Gibson Guitar CEO Gets ENRAGED If Someone Asks For a Day OffGawker, November 21st
Gibson is not just a great American guitar company; it is also a hard to place to work, run by a CEO notorious for micromanagement and general bad temper. Would you like a day off for the holidays? "NO." Gibson's CEO is Henry Juszkiewicz (pictured...Read more
Salute to a rockin' guitarThe Hindu, November 20th
Jimi Hendrix welcomes you at Vivanta by Taj. Eyes closed, head bowed, his iconic, hand-painted Gibson Flying V guitar in hand, lost to the magic of music flowing from it. It was a photograph never published before, buried deep in the archives of ...Read more