Gibson guitars gear review and company history!
Orville Gibson started making mandolins in his own way and patented the design in 1898.
The design Orville invented was the Archtop, enabling the mandolin to become a much louder instrument.
On the back of Orville’s original concept “Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co, Ltd.” was formed by five businessmen in 1902.
Up until Orville’s death in 1918, he was in and out of hospitals for “being eccentric”. Orville was never paid by Gibson unless he put hours in at the factory.
Lloyd Loar was brought in a year after Orville kicked the bucket to further develop Orville’s concept. The first modification Lloyd made was the F holed equipped F5 mandolin, it became the ultimate bluegrass mandolin.
In 1922, the L-5 Archtop guitar hit the streets, an extension of the Gibson mandolin concept.
The L-5 has been played by Scotty Moore, Maybelle Carter, Django Reinhardt and Wes Montgomery but also contemporary artists like Eric Clapton and John Mayer have been known to record with this legendary instrument.
The first successful electric jazz guitar with a pickup was the ES-150.
One player, in particular, came to champion the ES-150 and by doing so furthered the popularity of the electric guitar. The guitarist was Charlie Christian.
By picking up an ES-150 and joining Benny Goodman’s Orchestra in 1939, he single-handily replaced the tenor mandolins role in the big band. Many years later, the pickup in the ES-150 was dubbed the Charlie Christian pickup.
Charlie Christian is by many seen as the founder of Bebop along with horn players Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.
Without a doubt, it is Ted McCarty who has had the biggest influence on Gibson’s role in the guitar world.
When McCarty joined Gibson in 1948 he began developing models like the Gibson Les Paul, the Firebird, the Flying V, the Explorer and the Thinline range with such brilliant models as the ‘335‘.
McCarty also developed a lightweight version of the Les Paul model. Les Paul himself, however, hated it so McCarty named it the SG.
These instruments have shaped popular music as we know it and have been played by almost every famous guitar player ever lived.
Some artists have even managed to make the model seem as if it’s their own.
Could you imagine Albert King without a Flying V, Malcolm Young without his SG, B.B King and Chuck Berry without the 335 or James Hetfield without his Explorer?
No other guitar manufacturer has achieved such widespread popularity across genres like Gibson.
The Les Paul
Les Paul was a guitarist and inventor who by many is seen as the father of the solid body electric guitar.
Les started experimenting making solid body electric guitars after-hours in the Epiphone factory, he brought his idea named ‘The Log‘ to Gibson in the 40s.
Gibson wasn’t that impressed but after Fender had their huge success with the Telecaster in the early 50s, Ted McCarty changed his mind and developed the Les Paul model to which he assigned Les to be endorsed by it.
So the Les Paul might not have been invented by Mr Les Paul as one might first think. He did, however, invent multitrack recording and sold millions of records with his wife Mary Ford (real name Colleen Summers). Their hits include ‘How High The Moon’ and ‘Vaya Con Dios’ so his input in the music industry is legendary.
Les performed regularly until he sadly passed away on August the 12th 2009, 94 years old.
Gibson Guitar Corporation
Since Orville Gibson’s first Archtop mandolins, through the guitar becoming electric, Gibson has managed to stay on top and are by many guitar players considered the only choice.
Gibson’s only real competitor is Fender who, alongside Gibson, have been copied by every other guitar manufacturer in one way or another.
Their influence on popular music is untouchable.