-- Museum of Musical Instruments
(Back to Home)

   Orville Gibson is generally credited as the first to carve the top and back of a guitar into an arched shape rather than making them flat, as they had traditionally been. He first applied this idea in the 1880s to the mandolin, which was experiencing great popularity at the time. But while violin makers construct the sides of their instruments from thin wood pieces bent to shape, Gibson sawed out the sinuous sides from a solid piece of wood in order to avoid disrupting the natural growth direction of the grain. Any acoustical gain from this labor-intensive process was marginal at best, and the Gibson Company did not adopt this practice for their later production models. This guitar is one of a handful of surviving instruments made by Orville Gibson before 1902, when a group of investors bought his business. It is typical of his style, with a steep arch along the top and back, curving abruptly into a large, flat expanse in the center. The guitar is surprisingly lightweight, the result of careful thinning of all the body's surfaces.

Close Window