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TMC55

Gibson "custom shop" classical?

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New to the board, so hello everybody.

 

I've recently acquired a Gibson classical guitar and am trying to learn more about it than I already know. Hoping someone here can help or give suggestions on how to figure out some things about it. Like, how rare is it? It's value?

 

The guitar doesn't have a serial number and does not appear to be part of a Gibson line of classicals. (In other words, it's not a C-0 or C-1, etc.)

 

It appears to be made of master grade Brazilian wood.

 

The label inside the guitar reports it was made in January 1998, and reads: Master Built, Master Grade Concert Guitar. Made in Bozeman.

 

And it has the signatures of 5 Gibson luthiers, Valerie Bolitho, Ren Ferguson, Kevin Kopp, Michael Bakeburg (or Bakeberg) and one name I can't quite make out. Perhaps Philip Seymour?

 

There's nothing terribly fancy (inlays, hardware) about the guitar. But the excellent build and quality of the wood is very apparent.

 

Anyways, I'm wondering if the Bozeman shop in 1998-99 had room for side projects that the luthiers would undertake. Could this have been made to order for a buyer?

 

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

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Pictures would be useful.

 

High-end classical guitars use totally different bracing patterns and construction techniques from those used in a steel-string flat-top. I wonder what the design of this guitar is?

 

The standard classical guitar shape is very close to that of the Gibson LG series of guitars.

 

 

Gibson is not a name you associate with classical guitars, other than the ones built primarily in the 1960's at the height of the folk craze, when groups like PP&M used nylon-strung guitars.

 

Both Gibson and Martin have built classical-style instruments at various points in time. Sounds like yours may be a one-off.

 

 

I have a very nice Spanish classical that is cedar-topped with rosewood back and sides. It's a nice wood combination.

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The guitar you have is a real treasure. Back in the day Gibson had a marketing director that was a classical guitar player. Christopher Parkening was teaching at the University here in Bozeman and the marketing guy thought he could have Gibson build a guitar for him and make Gibson a force in the Classical Guitar field.

 

Well Gibson didn't do their homework. Parkening had a sweetheart deal with an importer called Sherry Brenner. They were the exclusive importer of Ramirez classical guitars. Well... Gibson bought a Ramirez and brought it into the Custom Shop and they reverse engineered it and built a prototype. Of course Parkening would not jeopardize his arrangement with Sherry Brenner or his endorsement arrangement with Ramirez so he wouldn't even visit the plant to look at the prototype let alone play it. That didn't stop the marketing guy as he was determined to make Gibson the classical guitar giant.

 

Of course the project was doomed to failure from the start. Gibson was not the darling of the classical guitar set and they would never consider playing a Gibson. The prototype was a masterpiece of building and rivaled the Ramirez in every detail. The plan was to go ahead without the Parkening endorsement. A short run of maybe 5 or 10 guitars were run and you have one of these guitars.

 

No one was interested in a Gibson Classical and the dealers laughed when given the opportunity to buy one. The guitars were built from top quality Brazilian rosewood and they sound every bit as good as a Ramirez. Kevin Kopp was in charge of the project and he and his team did a brilliant job building them. They were exact copy of the Ramirez guitar and every bit it's equal. Gibson's General Manager finally came to his senses and stopped the whole project.

 

Gibson did make a short run of very nice classical guitars for a very popular entertainer, Roger Miller, when he passed but that never got any traction either.

 

It would be nice if you could post some photos or maybe even a short sound clip. I would be interested in buying the guitar as it is a very cool piece of Gibson history.

 

As a side note Mike Bakeberg did a lot of the body building for the Custom Shop and my Brazilian Rosewood Ray Whitley body was built by Mike as well. It's very cool to have a guitar signed by him as he was very instrumental in the Custom Shop builds but never recognized for his accomplishments.

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Thanks for the replies, all!

 

Hogeye, you really know how to make someone's day. That's some deep intel. Gold mine. Thanks much!! I will PM you if I can figure out how...

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Thanks for the replies, all!

 

Hogeye, you really know how to make someone's day. That's some deep intel. Gold mine. Thanks much!! I will PM you if I can figure out how...

 

There is some very interesting history going on with the classical guitars. Gibson/Montana was actually a Ramirez distributor for several years way back in the beginning. They were unsuccessful in the endeavor as they were more interested in selling their own brand. The Ramirez deal went from 1990 to 1993. This was the same time frame that Christopher Parkening was presenting his Masters Class at the Montana State University here in Bozeman.

 

The Roger Miller connection came after he passed and his family was asked by Gibson to endorse a very limited run of classical guitars in his memory. I have a couple of sound hole labels and interestingly enough several of the round sound hole cut-outs from the very first of these guitars. There wasn't a lot of interest in the guitars and most of them went to his family and folks from his record label.

 

If any of them come up on the market I would love to know about it. So.....Your mission should you choose accept it would be to make a post of it on the forum and maybe I will see it.

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I was able to a bit of detective work on this mystery guitar, thanks to some info that was in the case, which led me to a conversation with its original owner.

 

this guitar was a one-off, made by the aforementioned Gibson luthiers in the custom shop in Bozeman for the 1998 NAMM show. It was a centerpiece of the Gibson display that year. Back in those days, according to the original owner, Guitar Center used to buy the entire Gibson NAMM display each year and sell the pieces in various stores. This one ended up in the Guitar Center in Fountain Valley, Calif., where the original owner purchased it. He sold it in 2004 to a collector on the East Coast. It is indeed made from master grade Brazilian rosewood and is mint. Sings like a bird. I was able to get in touch with Val Bolitho, and she remembers her contribution to the instrument was working on the neck.

post-92618-084736400 1529172671_thumb.jpg

post-92618-003982300 1529172935_thumb.jpg

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It rarely happens that you're able to fill in the blanks on the history of a guitar like this. Many of us here have guitars that have been through many hands, never knowing anything about the people who played them in the past, or what songs they've done. We just have to acquiesce, and let the mystery be. But we'll always wonder.

 

Is your guitar mostly doing classical? It would be great to hear it. . . especially crossing over from the classical realm (hint, hint) :)

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New to the board, so hello everybody.

 

I've recently acquired a Gibson classical guitar and am trying to learn more about it than I already know. Hoping someone here can help or give suggestions on how to figure out some things about it. Like, how rare is it? It's value?

 

The guitar doesn't have a serial number and does not appear to be part of a Gibson line of classicals. (In other words, it's not a C-0 or C-1, etc.)

 

It appears to be made of master grade Brazilian wood.

 

The label inside the guitar reports it was made in January 1998, and reads: Master Built, Master Grade Concert Guitar. Made in Bozeman.

 

And it has the signatures of 5 Gibson luthiers, Valerie Bolitho, Ren Ferguson, Kevin Kopp, Michael Bakeburg (or Bakeberg) and one name I can't quite make out. Perhaps Philip Seymour?

 

There's nothing terribly fancy (inlays, hardware) about the guitar. But the excellent build and quality of the wood is very apparent.

 

Anyways, I'm wondering if the Bozeman shop in 1998-99 had room for side projects that the luthiers would undertake. Could this have been made to order for a buyer?

 

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

 

The name you were having trouble with is Phil Sagama.

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