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GIBSON INCORPORATED, KALAMAZOO, 1973
GIBSON INCORPORATED, KALAMAZOO, 1973
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Please note lots marked with a square will be move… Read more GIBSON GUITARSOrville Gibson, who in 1894 worked as a part-time shoe salesman and restaurant clerk in Kalamazoo, Michigan, possessed a dual passion for music and woodworking. Although Gibson lacked any formal training as a luthier, it was his creative thinking, at the nexus of these two passions, which convinced him that he had the means to greatly improve guitar construction. For over two hundred years, traditional guitar construction was based on a method of fabricating the instrument’s sound box, commonly referred to as the body, from thin plates of wood for the top and back. These would be braced internally so as to withstand the pressures exerted by the tension of the strings. Instead of following this formula, Orville looked to the violin for inspiration. The tops and backs of violins are carved from thick stocks of wood, resulting in an arched form. This arch is self-sustaining and, like those found in architecture, able to withstand both downward and inward pressures. Applying this thinking to guitar and mandolin construction, Gibson created what we now know as the arch-top guitar and carved topped mandolin. These instruments were louder and more durable than comparable works of the time and were immediately successful with musicians. As such, the demand for Gibson’s instruments quickly exceeded his ability to produce them. Without the capital to expand, Gibson sold his name and operation to a group of Kalamazoo businessmen and with this, The Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Company was born.Innovations in guitar design did not end with Orville Gibson’s departure in 1903 from the company he founded. When we examine the history of Gibson as a company, we find they were relentless in pursuing new ideas. In 1921, Thaddeus McHugh, a woodworker at the Kalamazoo factory, invented and put into production both the adjustable truss rod and adjustable bridge. These advances made it possible to set and maintain the string height to perfectly fit the player’s needs. A year later in 1922, the musician and Gibson acoustical engineer Lloyd Loar expanded on the original ideas of Orville Gibson by adding the violin-style “f” holes on the tops of guitars and mandolins. The first guitar of this design, named the L-5, would prove itself a superior rhythm instrument when incorporated into the jazz bands of the 1920s.The Jazz era produced an insatiable desire for guitars that could produce the loudest volume, due to the growing size of both the performance venues and ensembles that played in them. The pinnacle of arch-top design was reached in 1924 with Gibson’s introduction of the Super 400. Measuring a full 18 inches in width, it was the largest, loudest and most expensive guitar Gibson had yet produced. Building on the momentum of these innovations, two years later Gibson achieved the ultimate solution in maximizing the volume a guitar could produce.In 1936 Gibson introduced the “Electric Spanish” guitar. The ES-150 was featured in the new 1937 catalogue and cost $150, which included a matching amplifier. This guitar was essentially a standard Gibson arch-top fitted with a single magnetic bar pickup. When the young jazz guitar virtuoso Charlie Christian first “plugged in” with Benny Goodman’s orchestra, this marked the moment when the guitar moved from the traditional rhythm section to solo and lead instrument. It would be twenty years before the significance of this moment could fulfill its true potential, which burst forth in the form of the rock and roll guitar.The post-war years would see an explosion of innovation by Gibson, with much of it under the guidance of CEO Ted McCarty. Gibson would refine its earlier guitar amplification methods with the development of the P-90 signal coil pickup in 1946. Wound around Alnico magnets on a wider and shorter bobbin, the P-90 produced a warmer “jazzier” sound than other single-coil pickups. With six adjustable poles positioned under each string, the tone and output could now be adjusted and balanced for each separate guitar string. In 1952 McCarty drove the development of Gibson’s first solid-body electric guitar, the soon to be iconic Les Paul Model. A year later McCarty designed the stud mounted combination bridge/tailpiece. Dispensing with a trapeze style tailpiece and mounting the bridge directly into the guitar would increase the tonal sustain of a solid-body guitar. By 1954 McCarty had perfected his idea for a bridge that allowed the intonation for each string to be adjusted separately. Called the Tune-O-Matic it was designed to be mountable on any type of guitar whether an archtop or a solid-body. By incorporating the ideas of Gibson’s Thaddeus McHugh it allowed the string height to be adjustable and, when coupled with a fixed stud-tailpiece, the results were phenomenal. This innovative bridge design was quickly incorporated on all upper-priced Gibson guitars and has become the universal standard for all bridges on electric guitars to this day.
GIBSON INCORPORATED, KALAMAZOO, 1973

A SOLID-BODY ELECTRIC GUITAR, LES PAUL

Details
GIBSON INCORPORATED, KALAMAZOO, 1973
A SOLID-BODY ELECTRIC GUITAR, LES PAUL
Inlaid at the headstock, Gibson, the later truss rod engraved STEREO, stamped to the reverse 627909 MADE IN U.S.A., the all highly figured bound maple body with sunburst finish, with later hardshell case bearing a label inscribed GIBSON LES PAUL SIGNATURE - STEREO DUESENBERG TREM UNIT #627909; accompanied by operation and installation instructions for the Dawson Stereophonic pickup, an order note from Pink Floyd to luthier Roger Giffin dated 2nd February 1982 to fit the pickups and re-wire as diagram supplied, and facsimile copies of two hand-drawn wiring diagrams on Astoria headed notepaper
Length of back 17 1/8 in. (43.4 cm.)
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Lot Essay

Purchased by David Gilmour from a guitar dealer on Denmark Street, London's Tin Pan Alley, in the mid-seventies, the instrument is one of a very small number of likely custom ordered guitars made using the existing Les Paul Custom platform but incorporating a highly figured all maple body and a control cavity routing on the top rather than back. This positioning of the cavity was only seen on Gibson’s Les Paul Recording model. Of an equally rare and custom variant, Gibson had incorporated stereo circuitry on this specific instrument. Over the years, the guitar has undergone numerous alterations to accommodate Gilmour’s changing requirements. These changes included upgraded electronics and re-wiring to accommodate “full stereo performance” across its entire sonic spectrum.

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