Archtop Guitar - Image 1


National Music Museum, University of South Dakota

National Music Museum, University of South Dakota

In 1898, Orville Gibson was awarded the patent for an Improved Mandolin, using principles that could be applied also to guitars, mandolas, and lutes. The invention was that of a back, neck, and ribs structure carved from one piece of wood, with an arched soundboard and slightly hollowed neck. The resulting archtop guitar design, influenced by violin construction, marked the beginning of a significant development in American guitar making. Orville Gibson built this guitar using the principles described in his patent, with no internal bracing or blocks. Though carved from exceptionally large pieces of walnut, it is lightly constructed and resonant. The instrument features Gibson’s signature star and crescent inlay on the paddle-shaped peghead, oval soundhole, dark finish, and abalone binding. On November 11, 1902, soon after this archtop guitar was made, the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co. was founded in Kalamazoo. Though he was never an owner, Gibson received royalties and consulting fees from the company. However, due to the demands of mass-production, Gibson’s integral body and neck construction was abandoned in favor of more traditional methods, although the distinctive arched tops and decorative features were retained.

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  • Title: Archtop Guitar - Image 1
  • Creator: Orville Gibson (1856-1918)
  • Date: 1902
  • Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Provenance: Ex coll.: Thomas G. Comeaux, Lafayette, Louisiana
  • Original Source: photographer: Bill Willroth, Sr.
  • See on Institution's Site: http://orgs.usd.edu/nmm/PluckedStrings/Guitars/Gibson/10855/StyleO3Guitar.html
  • Rights: National Music Museum, University of South Dakota
  • Medium: plucked stringed musical instrument
  • Credit: Tony and Bonnie Vinatieri Trust, 2005

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