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Author Archives: George Gruhn

1965 Epiphone Emperor

 
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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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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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George Fullerton’s Fender Jazzmaster

A Master's Pallet
 
A Master’s Pallet

This Jazzmaster is an interesting example of what went on behind the scenes at the Fender factory with the research and development of body shapes and materials, and during the pre-production phase for new models in the late 1950s and early ’60s. After having great success with the Esquire, Telecaster, and Stratocaster, in 1958, Fender […]

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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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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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The Epiphone Excellente

 
The Epiphone Excellente

When Gibson acquired Epiphone in 1957, the plan was to introduce a new line of Epis that would be made in the Gibson factory but designed to be slightly less expensive than the equivalent Gibson model. It worked out that way in the electric line of the 1960s, where the more expensive Epis had mini-humbuckers […]

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Gibson Style R Harp Guitar

 
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Harp guitars with a standard six-string guitar neck and varying numbers of sub-bass harp-style strings have been made by a variety of American builders. Some of the best-known include Gibson, Joseph Bohmann (of Chicago), Knutson (Seattle), and the Larson brothers (Chicago), who made them primarily under the brand of Dyer (a distributor based in St. […]

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