have been in evidence as early as 1894. Over a
century. The earliest know instrument, built by
Orville Gibson in his home workshop, was a
10-String. From here he applied a violin-style
carved top to mandolin construction. He invented
two new mandolins: the F (scroll body) and A
(teardrop Body). He also made something that was
less commercial during that time, an archtop guitar,
his own invention. All had a round or oval sound
In 1902, the
Mfg. Co., Ltd. was formed. Orville's mandolins were
far superior to competing models, and as a result
the company was unable to meet rising demand. Five
Kalamazoo businessmen buy the rights to his name and
patent for $2,500, and hire Gibson as a consultant.
Orville was not one of the principals of the Gibson
Guitar Company, but he did own some stock. Within six
months, however, he was picking fights with the
board of managers over who got to stand where in the
company photos, and so he sold his stock to a local
saloon keeper. Orville continued to receive a
royalty, and later a pension, until he died in 1918.
The F-5 and L-5 mandolins were introduced in 1922.
World War I killed the mandolin orchestra and gives
rise to the tenor banjo. In an effort to revive the
mandolin, Gibson acoustic engineer Lloyd Loar
designed the ultimate mandolin: the F-5. New
features included f-holes, a longer neck and
hand-tuned top, tone bars and f-holes. As a
companion member of the Style 5 family, Loar
designed the L-5. While Loar's works were legendary
in the long run, they were disastrous in the short.
Gibson almost went bankrupt, and Boar resigned late
1935 the first
Gibson electric (a metalbody Hawaiian) was
introduced, with consulting help from Alvino Rey.
Then in 1936, the first "Spanish" (standard)
electric, the ES-150 appeared. In 1937, the J-200
made its first appearance when singing cowboy movie
star Ray Whitley ordered a super-large flat top.
Gibson put it into production in 1938 as the Super
Jumbo, under its more familiar name, the J-200, it
is still the standard for country players.
guitar introduced the first cutaway models, the Super 400
Premier and I-5 Premier. Then in 1941, just before
switching over to wartime products, Gibson
introduced the J-45 and Southerner Jumbo (SJ). The
SJ became the workhorse flat top guitar for many
1952. Gibsonís first solid body was
introduced. Gibson enlisted the endorsement of one
the biggest recording stars of the early '50s to
help sell The Les Paul Model. Since 1952, Gibson has
offered over 40 different Les Paul models.