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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City man charged in burglary where $12K was reported stolenBristol Press, July 31st
According to the warrant, a laptop, camera, Gibson guitar, prescription pills, credit cards and $2,200 in cash were stolen. The value of the items taken totaled about $12,700, the man told police. According to the warrant, the man immediately suspected...Read more
While my guitar gently tunes itselfWBFO, July 31st
Gibson has spent millions of dollars over the course of a decade trying to perfect the self-tuning guitar. But it wasn't until this year the brand behind the iconic Les Paul started making automatic tuners a standard feature on most of its electric...Read more
Gibson Brands Has Strong Presence at 2015 VidCon EventGibson, July 30th
Later, the guitar-jump was also a prime attraction at the Gibson booth inside the VidCon convention facility. Needless to say, an array of beautiful Gibson guitars, as well as other Gibson Brand products, was featured throughout, and a grand time was...Read more
Vintage Gibson ukulele, stolen from former Gibson exec's widow, returnedMLive.com, July 30th
KALAMAZOO, MI -- A vintage ukulele designed by former Gibson Guitar Company executive Julius Bellson was dropped on the doorstep of his widow's home Wednesday night, intact. News of the disappearance of the highly decorated Soprano 3 instrument, ...Read more
Owner of John Lennon's Long Lost 1962 Gibson J-160E Guitar Speaks Exclusively ...PR Web (press release), July 30th
The guitar John Lennon used to write several Beatle hits on has been lost for over 40 years but now is found. Hear the remarkable story of where it has been and the man who has been a good steward of it even though he didn't know it was Lennon's guitar ...Read more
Historic Gibson ukulele stolen from 103-year-old Kalamazoo woman found and ...Fox17, July 29th
Wednesday night, police said the ukulele was found and returned to Bellson. Margie Bellson loved playing her ukulele. She is the widow of famed Gibson executive Julius Bellson, who was known for his work at the Gibson Guitar Company in the late 1930's...Read more
Vintage Vault: 1968 Gibson Trini Lopez DeluxePremier Guitar, July 14th
The 1966 Gibson catalog describes the Deluxe: “A Gibson custom artist guitar featuring deep modern double cutaway and exceptional electronic response. Exquisitely fashioned in Curly Maple with cream binding and shell pickguard, the Trini Lopez Deluxe ...Read more
Kent man a go-to guy for anything Gibson 335 guitarsTorrington Register Citizen, July 9th
Gelber carries some of the Gibson 335s and the related ES-345 and ES-355 as well as other Gibson, Fender guitars, other vintage guitars, amplifiers and parts. Also on hand are accessories such as strings, a few lower end guitars and the occasional...Read more