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Which luthier is credited for the Gibson tone?


EuroAussie

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When I think of Gibson acoustics tone I think of that woody, balanced tone with a great growl, note seperation and thumpy bass.

 

This signature tone has been around Gibsons for as long as I can remember.

 

But which luthier originally wrote the 'blueprint' for the Gibson acoustic tone?

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Orville had no input on any of the guitars currently available or, for that matter on any flat-top Gibson has ever made. Orville's "breakthrough" was carving back and sides and neck out of a single piece of wood (at least for mandolins). Some of Gibson's greatest innovations were the ideas of relatively unsung people within the company. Lloyd Loar, while a very remarkable and talented person, wasn't the source of most of the innovations we associate with Loar-era instruments (e.g., truss rods, snakehead headstocks, f-holes on mandolins, arch-top mandolins, and others). He did contribute the important concept of tuning mandolin tops. Guy Hart, Lew Williams, and a bunch of other important figures came up with a lot of the "big ideas." This is sort of contrary, in some respects, to how we like to imagine innovation. Teams of very smart guys (who were probably listening to the folks on the shop floor who were building instruments day-to-day) would try out and perfect certain ideas. The company would then patent those ideas (or, more specifically, the nominal inventor would patent them assigning rights to Gibson). So, in a way, it was sort of a committee approach. While less romantic than the idea of a single acoustical genius coming up with idea after idea, the collective approach obviously worked very well. Some of it was clearly driven by market forces and the desire to have exclusive features that the advertising guys could celebrate. But to a surprising degree, many of those changes (until the Dark Era) were really great ideas that improved the instruments beyond mere marketing hype.

 

I'm more conversant with mandolin history than guitar history so what I've said may not apply as strongly to those bigger 6-strings as it does to those smaller 8-strings, but I think it's fairly true of both. The end result (for both mandolins and guitars) has been a host of innovative and much-admired instrument designs that have stood the test of time and become reference standards.

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Seth Lover - sorry, couldn't resist.

 

Gibsons, of course, have gone through alot of changes over the decades, each somewhat adding a bit of different flavoring to the stew.

 

It does seem lots of folks were involved with the process of creating a guitar.

 

I would say though if credit is to be given it would have to go to Gibson's chief engineers (or whatever their title was)- guys like Lloyd Loar, Ted McHugh and Larry Allers. And then to the guys who called the shots at Gibson and CMI like Guy Hart, Maurice Berlin and Ted McCarty and who made it possible for those ideas to become a guitar, banjo or mandolin.

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Wish someone could tell - whoever it was, he/she/they brought a very big thing into this world. After 9 months behind Gibsons, Im still absolutely seduced by the flavours and layers in the various guitars.

As a matter of fact is has come to a point where I've stopped singing, , , WHAT ! - Must have needed this change badly. . .

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