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Author Archives: George Gruhn

Vintage Instruments and the Ban on Ivory Trade

 
Vintage Instruments and the Ban on Ivory Trade

A presidential executive order issued February 11 proposes a wide ban on trade in ivory has widespread implications for trade in vintage musical instruments as well as antique art, furniture, firearms, swords, knives, and jewelry. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has been tasked with writing and enforcing new regulations for import, export, and domestic trade […]

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Rosewood Dobro

 
Rosewood Dobro

In the 1930s, the original Dobro company went through a series of ownership changes and licensing agreements. It did not regularly publish catalogs, and its model numbers were typically also the price of a model, which may have varied from one distributor to the next. Specifications (more…)

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Gibson Super Jumbo 100

 
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The Super Jumbo 200 is Gibson’s most celebrated flat-top model, and deservedly so, thanks to its use by cowboy movie stars in the pre-World War II years and by country music stars in the post-war years. The Super Jumbo 100, on the other hand, is one of Gibson’s more obscure models – a status it […]

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’62 Les Paul Rarity

 
'62 Les Paul Rarity

In its early years, the Gibson Les Paul Custom evolved through several body-style and spec changes and was the earliest Gibson solidbody to have a Tune-O-Matic bridge and stop tailpiece; the Les Paul model (a.k.a. “goldtop”) did not have them until late ’55. First appearing in Gibson catalogs in 1954, the company actually made a […]

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National Bel-Air

 
National Bel-Air, Photo courtesy George Gruhn Big thmbnail

The idea of Gibson providing guitar parts to another prominent guitar maker is laughable today, but in the 1940s and ’50s, relationships were cozier between some of the major instrument companies. The evidence lies in this 1960 National Bel-Aire, one of several Nationals of the postwar era to feature a body made by Gibson. Outsourcing […]

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1965 Epiphone Emperor

 
Epiphone Empero1965 Main

The Epiphone Emperor has a long, convoluted history. It first appeared in Epiphone’s catalog in late 1935 as a response to Gibson’s Super 400, which was introduced in late 1934. Epiphone went one better on Gibson’s 18″-wide Super 400 by making the Emperor 18 1/2″ wide. This was the top model in the Epiphone line. […]

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Custom-Order Gibson B-45-12

 
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The term “rare” is applied to guitars in far too many instances. Usually an appealing term, its overuse can be attributed in part to the fact it’s particularly catchy to the eye of anyone fond of a collectible vintage instrument. The subject here this month, however, is truly deserving of the label. A custom-order Gibson […]

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Recording King Ray Whitley

 
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As a maker of high-quality instruments, Gibson was hit hard by the onset of the Depression in the 1930s. Company president Guy Hart, a former accountant, recognized that Gibson could not survive by simply waiting for better times, and he took action, diverting some guitar production to wooden toys, creating the Kalamazoo line of budget-priced […]

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Gibson’s Experimental Archtop

 
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Orville Gibson invented the carved-top guitar in the 1890s. The Gibson company refined the design with the addition of f-holes in 1922, and brought the concept to full potential in the mid ’30s with larger-bodied (more…)

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Late 1920s Gibson L-1 (Flattop)

Gibson "Florentine"
 
Late 1920s Gibson L-1 "Florentine" Home page main

Because I don’t know what to call this Gibson guitar, I refer to it as a “Florentine,” for lack of a better name. Though the body decoration is unlike any cataloged Gibson guitar, the fingerboard and headstock ornamentation is almost identical to Gibson’s Florentine banjo (made between 1927 and ’37). In size, shape, construction and woods, […]

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