you can discover how these guitars fit into guitar history on the "story of guitars" page
(click on the photo)
click on the guitar pictures below to see videos of Andrew playing them!
Style O Artist (1915).
This beautiful carved archtop model was the top of Gibson's range, until - in response to the growing demand for more volume - the revolutionary L5 was unveiled in 1922.
At the other end of the scale, Gibson were determined to expand their market with a range of cheaper, simpler models. Still a carved top though! This was Andrew's "workhorse" guitar for many years, until ......
By the mid-1920s, Gibson had given in to the demand for cheaper guitars, and produced "flat-top" versions of their old L-series guitars. Around 1930, they produced their cheapest-ever: the L-00.
In 1922, Lloyd Loar came up with this revolutionary solution to the increasing demand for more volume. Amongst the new features was the positioning of "f" holes rather than a round hole in the centre. This design set the pattern for loud, jazzy guitars for ever! (This one has a DeArmond pickup, added in the early 1960s).
The amazing L5 was copied by many other manufacturers, at a much lower price! Gibson eventually gave in, and produced a cheaper range of models. The "C" stands for "cutaway", which was quite an innovation.
Alongside the very loud (but rather pricey) archtop guitars, many makers, such as Martin, were making big, loud "flat-top" guitars. Gibson eventually pitched in with their various "J" (for "jumbo") models.
12-strings were very popular with blues and folk players, so Gibson just had to produce them. After a few complaints about the neck bending under the pressure of so many strings, Gibson started to include advice to tune the guitar two notes below normal pitch, and use a capo!
Another classic Gibson jumbo. This one has an adjustable ceramic bridge.
MELODY MAKER (1964)
In response to the huge success of the solid-bodied Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster, Gibson's Les Paul was a success, but rather pricey and heavy. This was an attempt to produce something lighter and cheaper.
Style 2 Tricone (1928)
A dramatic and revolutionary approach to making a guitar louder. John Dopyera designed this guitar with the strings resting on three aluminium cones, which vibrated and pumped the sound into a beautifully-engraved and German Silver-coated metal body.
A cheaper alternative! Single cone, and a wooden body sprayed with a base yellow coat and random splodges of colour. Plus a lovely transfer on the back (more later).
Triolian (1928) - wood body
Triolian tenor (1928) - wood body
Tenor version of the above
Triolian (1929) - metal body
Prompted by the paint not sticking to the metal cover plate, it was decided to appoint the Rickenbacker factory to make thin metal bodies, rather than wood. This goes everywhere with Andrew!
and here are the backs of those last three guitars...
American parlor guitars
Washburn 211 (1898)
Lyon &Healy's "Washburn" brand guitars were a popular mass-produced cheap alternative to Martins
Harwood (probably 1895)
Many small (often family-run) firms were producing high-quality guitars, to compete with the likes of Martin and Lyon & Healy. Difficult to date, as the factory burned down, and all records were destroyed!
Jose Ramirez 1st flamenco model (1905)
Four generations on, the Ramirez family is still producing fine Spanish guitars. There's a hole in the peghead to hang it up!
Sentchordi Hermanos (late 19th century?)
Very hard to date. All we know is that the Sentchordi Brothers built guitars in Valencia from 1861 until 1905. They were normally quite elaborately decorated, but this is clearly a student or child's guitar.
Vicente Tatay (1960s)
Members of the Tatay family have been making guitars in Valencia since 1899. They soon realised the need to create a factory-production system to meet the growing demand, and so have become one of the biggest producers of good, consistent-quality Spanish guitars. I had one for a couple of years when I was a teenager, and was so thrilled recently to find a replacement.
Mangin parlour guitar (1820)
By the early 19th century, the highly-decorative "baroque" guitars were beginning to transform into a much more playable and musically credible instrument, with just six single strings. The French town of Mirecourt became one of the best-known centres for guitar and violin production, and Mangin was one of their makers.
Hofner Club 50 (1958)
In the early 60s, young UK groups like The Beatles just couldn't afford American Gibsons and Fenders (there was also a temporary ban on American imports just after WW2, to encourage UK industry). Good-quality European equivalents like these were the obvious choice.
Framus Strato (early 1960s)
Non-USA makers tried to avoid being sued by Gibson and Fender by slightly changing the shape of otherwise obvious copies. By the late 60s, Japanese makers had no such scruples!
Maccaferri Dow Styron (1953)
Maccaferri was best known for designing stunning and innovative guitars for Selmer (made famous by Django Reinhardt). But he was also an industrialist and innovator, with an obsession with plastic. After manufacturing plastic clothes pegs, then ukuleles, he designed this extraordinary high-quality plastic guitar.
and then there's .....
Martin 000-21 (1953)
The company founded by C F Martin (an apprentice of the Austrian maker Johann Stauffeur) in 1833, epitomised the transition from mostly-European decorative "parlour" guitars, to much louder and more versatile instruments: hitting the growing public music scene in the USA in the late 19th century and beyond. They reached a stage when they realised that the quality of the wood, and the size of the body were crucial. This was one of their bigger ones.
Harmony Sovereign (1970) - USA
This guitar is very significant to me personally. I originally bought it at the age of 20 in 1970, and it was hugely important in spurring me on to perform live. I sold it about 30 years later to a good friend, and he vowed that - if ever he sold it - he would offer it to me first at the price he paid for it. Well - IT HAPPENED - over 50 years after I first bought it from new! To me, it's a personal treasure. It's also bloody good!
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copyright: Andrew Bazeley 2018