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
Keb' Mo' reaches out to other parts of Americas in new albumStarNewsOnline.com, September 17th
Joe Cocker and Robert Palmer, among others. And he's collaborated with everyone from Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Brown to Amy Grant and Buddy Guy. His guitar mastery also led to his own Keb' Mo' Signature Bluesmaster series acoustic guitar by Gibson...Read more
Radney Foster Looking For Stolen Guitar CollectionAll Access Music Group, September 15th
"Just had 10 guitars and my custom DEL RIO, TX amp stolen, including the first MARTIN I ever owned. Headed to the police station," explained FOSTER via his FACEBOOK page. Among those missing are: 1978 MARTIN D-28 Acoustic; 1988 GIBSON ...Read more
Win tickets to the Sunset Strip Music Fest plus a guitar!KTLA, September 14th
Text GIBSON to 515151 for a chance to win 2 two-day VIP tickets to the Sunset Strip Music Festival on Sept. 20 and 21, special access for 2 to the SSMF private event on Friday, Sept. 19, and an Epiphone ES-339 P90 PRO guitar! You can also enter at ...Read more
ACE FREHLEY Talks To GUITAR CENTER About Musical Beginnings ...BLABBERMOUTH.NET, September 12th
Original KISS guitarist Ace Frehley graced Guitar Center with his legendary presence at the the company's Hollywood Vintage Room where he talked about what it feels like to play music, his musical beginnings, and his relationship with Gibson and the...Read more
One careful owner: The story of a desirable vintage guitar about to be auctionedWashington Post, September 8th
In 1960, a teenage Harry Ryan walked into a music store in Falls Church and saw a Gibson Les Paul Sunburst guitar hanging on the wall. “I just fell in love with it,” Harry told me. “I told the guy: 'Wait a few minutes. I'll be right back.' I lived a...Read more
Guitarist Robert Gibson to perform at Berry CollegeNorthwest Georgia News, September 2nd
Gibson has won prizes in national music competitions such as the Appalachian Guitar Festival, the University of Texas San Antonio Concerto Competition, the Etude Music Club Competition, and the Music Teachers National Association National Competition...Read more
Vintage Vault: 1965 Gibson Firebird IIIPremier Guitar, August 25th
In 1962 Gibson president Ted McCarty decided that a bold new guitar was needed to compete with Fender's popular Jazzmaster. For a fresh, all-new concept, McCarty sought outside help and hired well-known automobile designer Ray Dietrich. After 50 ...Read more
Gibson Guitar Sculptures Unveiled on West Hollywood's Sunset StripWEHOville, August 21st
The Gibson Guitartown on the Sunset Strip public art project was launched in 2010. The 10-foot, one-of-a-kind guitars were created by L.A. and nationally acclaimed artists to celebrate musicians who have influenced the Sunset Strip, according to the...Read more