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Author Archives: George Gruhn

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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1949 Bigsby Tenor

 
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1949 Bigsby Tenor. Photo: Kelsey Vaughn, courtesy George Gruhn. By the advent of the solidbody electric guitar in the 1950s, tenor guitarists were a dying breed. Consequently, electric tenors are relatively rare, and a tenor guitar made by solidbody pioneer Paul Bigsby is one of the rarest of all electric guitars. And if that’s not […]

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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 archtops. • While Gibson inarguably blazed the trail in the industry when it came to archtop design, that trail had […]

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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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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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Gretsch 6134 White Penguin

 
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1958 Gretsch 6134 White Penguin, serial number 26389. Photo courtesy Gruhn Guitars. There’s no doubt the White Penguin is one of the rarest Gretsch instruments. It is estimated that no more than a few dozen were made from the introduction of the model in 1955 through 1964, when it was discontinued, though exact production totals […]

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1944 Martin 00-28

 
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This Martin 00-28 is a highly unusual instrument. Made as part of a group of six created with shop-order number 366 (dated 12/14/1944) and bearing serial numbers 90002 through 90007, they were entered on the Martin shop order slip as 00-28G, indicating they were classical guitars designed strictly for gut strings. There is no indication […]

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The D’Angelico Excel Mandolin

 
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The 1,164 archtop guitars made by John D’Angelico have brought him great renown as the finest individual archtop guitar builder in the history of the instrument. His mandolins, however, are seldom talked about, even though – if this particular example from the early 1940s is any indication – they are worthy of the same attention. […]

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Gibson Johnny Smith

 
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In 1961, Gibson’s Johnny Smith model not only associated Gibson with one of the most popular guitar stylists of the day, it also brought high-quality amplification and high-quality acoustic sound together for the first time. From Gibson’s first electric “Spanish” guitar, the ES-150 of 1936, Gibson had fashioned an electric guitar by cutting a hole […]

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Orville Gibson A model

 
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All carved-top guitars and mandolins trace their ancestry back to Orville Gibson of Kalamazoo, Michigan. However, as this A model mandolin illustrates, Orville’s designs went through considerable refinement through the early years of the Gibson company’s existence to reach the standard of design that we know today. The highlights of Orville’s life are well-known: Born […]

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