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Author Archives: George Gruhn

Gibson Style J Mando-bass

 
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Decades before Audiovox or Leo Fender dreamed of making a fretted electric bass, Gibson started manufacturing fretted acoustic mando-basses that were tuned the same as an upright bass. Joe Spann, author of Spann’s Guide to Gibson 1902-1941 has assembled serial and work-order number information documenting Gibson’s production prior to World War II, which indicates mando-bass […]

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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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Gretsch 6120 Tenor

Elvis Costello’s Gretsch 6120 Tenor
 
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This 1958 Gretsch Chet Atkins 6120 four-string tenor guitar is a very rare variation of the model. Gretsch built other tenors, including the Duo Jet, archtop acoustic, and archtop electric tenors of various other models. Gretsch was not alone in making tenors. Martin, Gibson, and Epiphone all produced tenor versions of many of their standard […]

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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"
 
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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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1905 Gibson F-2

 
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In the opinion of most American mandolinists, Gibson brought mandolin design to a level of perfection in 1922, with the introduction of the Master Model F-5. It wasn’t much earlier – 25 years or so – that Orville Gibson created the F model as one of two mandolin body styles (the other being the symmetrical […]

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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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1933 Gibson L-5 “Special”

 
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Though many collectors focus on instruments in fine original condition, every so often one emerges that, regardless of condition, is no less exciting than a paleontologist finding the “missing link.” Everything there is to know about the Gibson L-5 designed by Carl Kress can be learned from this example, with the model designation “Special” hand-written […]

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