Since 1894, the name Gibson has signified both superlative quality and originality of design to generations of guitarists. From the company’s inception in the Kalamazoo, Michigan workshop of Orville Gibson, musicians have coveted Gibson instruments. Mr. Gibson fashioned those early guitars and mandolins with arched, carved tops, so truly unique that he was awarded a patent. Not only were his instruments beautiful, but they were louder and sturdier than other guitars of his time. Not surprisingly, demand became greater than Mr. Gibson could handle alone, so in 1902, the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co. Ltd. was formed.
An even more exciting era of guitar innovation was yet to come, however. In the 1930’s, while rudimentary versions of electric guitars had been cropping up for several years, Gibson had a sterling reputation to protect. If they were to produce an electric guitar at all, they were committed to making the finest one the world had ever seen. Gibson selected musician Alvino Rey to work with a group of Chicago engineers on a prototype pickup. When research was later moved back to the Kalamazoo plant, company employee Walter Fuller struck gold with the final design: an extraordinary hexagonal pickup on a lap steel model. With the pickup installed on an F-hole archtop guitar, the model was christened ES (Electric Spanish) -150. The first one shipped in 1936.
Since then, Gibson’s greatest challenge has been to surpass what they’ve already achieved. Beginning in 1946 with the powerful P-90 pickup and continuing soon after with the first three-pickup guitar, the ES-5, as well as the ES-175 with its totally original pointed cutaway bout, Gibson has kept up a rhythm of continual progress. Each passing year brought new advances such as the addition of the Les Paul solid-body models, the tune-o-matic bridge, the inception of semi-hollowbody electric guitars and the introduction of revolutionary body styles such as the now classic Flying V.
History speaks for itself. Scored of the world’s most respected guitarists, from Allman to Zappa, have been proud to use and recommend the Gibson brand.
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