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Author Archives: George Gruhn

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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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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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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1934 Gibson F-7

 
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Prior to Gibson’s innovations, mandolins were bowl-back instruments with a lute-like back usually constructed with rosewood or maple back ribs and a bent spruce top with an oval sound hole. Earlier guitars typically had flat tops and backs, and were designed for gut strings. In 1898, he received a patent for the concept of (more…)

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The 1912 Martin 000-28

The 1912 Martin
 
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      By 1912, players of fretted instruments were familiar with steel strings. Mandolins, which were enjoying their period of greatest popularity, were strung with steel. Guitars made by Gibson and by the Larson Brothers were strung with (more…)

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Martin Elegant, a.k.a. “Lula”

 
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It’s an extraordinarily rare event to find a high-grade, historically significant mid-1800s guitar in a pawn shop, but that is indeed where this Martin was discovered. When found in Nashville in the mid 1970s, it was recognized as an exceptional instrument with ornamentation far in excess of any (more…)

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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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