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Author Archives: George Gruhn

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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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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Three Larsons

 
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At first glance, these three guitars appear to be a straightforward collection of different sizes of the same model. A comparable set of three Martins would be a 0-40, 00-40 and 000-40. However, these are Larson Brothers guitars, and when it comes to Larson models, nothing is that simple. Aesthetically, these guitars are identical (more…)

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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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National N-275

 
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Gibson is widely known for its guitars, mandolins, and banjos, but many are unaware the company built instruments for nearly 30 brands for several distributors and music store chains, primarily from the 1920s through the early ’40s. Some of the best-known names include Kalamazoo, distributed by Gibson, and Recording King, which was distributed by Montgomery […]

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