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Yes, that Wiki is the accepted wisdom, which I don't accept.

I am curious if this is what most believe, or has been proven somehow, or when it changed (or IF it changed)

 

Last I knew, I was aware of the "borrowed guitar" theory, but I thought that most didn't veiw it as likely.

 

Of corse, I have also heard that WIKI is thought by some to be often inaccurate.

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I am curious if this is what most believe, or has been proven somehow, or when it changed (or IF it changed)

 

As best I know, this is what most believe, probably courtesy of the Wiki. My opinion differs. I've recorded all my thoughts concerning Robert Johnson here:

 

LawReviewArticle_zps47eff639.jpg

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As best I know, this is what most believe, probably courtesy of the Wiki. My opinion differs. I've recorded all my thoughts concerning Robert Johnson here:

 

LawReviewArticle_zps47eff639.jpg

That's a tease. Any chance we could read it? Is it long?

 

I started a poll, just because I'm curious what the "common knowledge" is.

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  • 2 months later...

I know this is an old thread and maybe no one will see this but....

 

David "Honeyboy" Edwards did indeed say that at the time of Johnson's death he was playing a gibson..."a little ol' gibson, with a hole in the middle".

 

This information comes from the documentary, "Can't You Hear the Wind Howl"

 

If interested, find the section with the song, "Hellhound On My Trail" and listen to Honeyboy's interview.

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I'm guessing it could be possible that he borrowed the guitar at the same time he borrowed the suit, figuring it would look more prestigious to have a Gibson than his usual cheaper box. Or not. Just throwing it out there as a possibility.

 

I think that this idea substitutes current brand and model fetishism for people's perceptions in the 1930s. Of course Gibson was a prestige maker in the 1930s, but the brand recognition can't possibly have been the same then as it is now.

 

We live in an age in which that headstock is extremely famous among guitarists and non-guitarists alike, because country stars made regular TV appearances in the 1950s holding J45s and SJs, and because rock stars were subsequently filmed in the 1960s and 1970s holding Les Pauls and ES 335s. Television made musicians and instruments visible to millions and the quality of film made it easier to read the name on the headstock. When RJ went in to that photo studio, it is quite likely that a large number of guitar players wouldn't recognize the headstock as a Gibson one. Television was in its infancy, so they wouldn't see really famous, well-paid musicians with Gibsons all that often. People went to the cinema a lot and might have caught short films with Eddie Lang or Roy Smeck playing Gibsons. But Lang's guitars mainly had snake-head headstocks or similarly tapered ones, and Smeck would have had the guitar in his lap, so nobody could have made out the headstock. I really find it hard to imagine that every small town in America had a GC-style shop full of Gibsons for all to see. Even if guitarists had encountered a Gibson in the flesh before, chances are it might have had a snake's head and not the now more famous winged headstock. The average non-playing punter probably had even less inkling as to whether the guitar was a Gibson, a Martin, a Stella or an Artois.

 

In any case, the name is not even visible on the headstock in that photo (if it were taken now we'd all be speculating over whether it was a Chinese fake or not). Why on earth would anybody in the mid to late 1930s be remotely interested in the fact that he is holding a Gibson at all, let alone an L1? We only recognize it as an L1 because of that photo, because once Clapton et al became famous and named RJ as an influence, all the wannabes tracked down photo evidence to try to work out what guitar he used to get his sound, and then deduced that he played an L1. If it weren't for the Johnson connection no one would know what an L1 was.

 

This being the case, why would it be more prestigious to appear with a Gibson L1 in a photo than with any other guitar? To what audience would the prestige of the instrument speak? Especially when the Gibson name is not even visible and the thing is battered to hell? This is a case of confusing cause and effect - thinking that Johnson was sending out a message that he was a great and successful guitarist because he could afford a Gibson L1, when in reality we recognize that he is holding a Gibson L1 because he was a great and successful guitarist and we care what he played. The photo added prestige to that guitar and not vice-versa.

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yeah , he was / is a phenomenon , eric clapton has said if he dedicated the rest of his life learning his music he still couldnt match his skill .

he was never going to be forgotten

 

He still hasn't matched Johnson's skill. Personally, aside from the fact that he covered Crossroads Blues, I've never really been able to spot any aspect of EC's playing which is seriously influenced by Johnson. The influence of Freddie King, I can spot, though. Which begs the question, why was Clapton so busy name-checking Johnson as his major influence when in terms of action, he was mainly buying Les Pauls to sound like King, covering his instrumentals, and copying his licks?

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I think that this idea substitutes current brand and model fetishism for people's perceptions in the 1930s. Of course Gibson was a prestige maker in the 1930s, but the brand recognition can't possibly have been the same then as it is now.

 

We live in an age in which that headstock is extremely famous among guitarists and non-guitarists alike, because country stars made regular TV appearances in the 1950s holding J45s and SJs, and because rock stars were subsequently filmed in the 1960s and 1970s holding Les Pauls and ES 335s. Television made musicians and instruments visible to millions and the quality of film made it easier to read the name on the headstock. When RJ went in to that photo studio, it is quite likely that a large number of guitar players wouldn't recognize the headstock as a Gibson one. Television was in its infancy, so they wouldn't see really famous, well-paid musicians with Gibsons all that often. People went to the cinema a lot and might have caught short films with Eddie Lang or Roy Smeck playing Gibsons. But Lang's guitars mainly had snake-head headstocks or similarly tapered ones, and Smeck would have had the guitar in his lap, so nobody could have made out the headstock. I really find it hard to imagine that every small town in America had a GC-style shop full of Gibsons for all to see. Even if guitarists had encountered a Gibson in the flesh before, chances are it might have had a snake's head and not the now more famous winged headstock. The average non-playing punter probably had even less inkling as to whether the guitar was a Gibson, a Martin, a Stella or an Artois.

 

In any case, the name is not even visible on the headstock in that photo (if it were taken now we'd all be speculating over whether it was a Chinese fake or not). Why on earth would anybody in the mid to late 1930s be remotely interested in the fact that he is holding a Gibson at all, let alone an L1? We only recognize it as an L1 because of that photo, because once Clapton et al became famous and named RJ as an influence, all the wannabes tracked down photo evidence to try to work out what guitar he used to get his sound, and then deduced that he played an L1. If it weren't for the Johnson connection no one would know what an L1 was.

 

This being the case, why would it be more prestigious to appear with a Gibson L1 in a photo than with any other guitar? To what audience would the prestige of the instrument speak? Especially when the Gibson name is not even visible and the thing is battered to hell? This is a case of confusing cause and effect - thinking that Johnson was sending out a message that he was a great and successful guitarist because he could afford a Gibson L1, when in reality we recognize that he is holding a Gibson L1 because he was a great and successful guitarist and we care what he played. The photo added prestige to that guitar and not vice-versa.

 

Fair reasoning, on the other hand you'd be we'll placed for borrowing a guitar if you were having your photo taken as a promo shot setup by a record company.

 

The one thing though, the guitar in the picture demonstrates quite a bit of wear, given that he'd spent a larger portion of his time with the Kalamazoo, it's likely the wear was either that of another owner or that RJ had picked up a used Gibson L-1 unless he was furiously hard on the guitar in a short time.

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Surely someone here (Gibson Forum) can tell if the guitar he is playing is a Gibson L1 by the sound?

 

I always thought the mahogany top guitars that I have got a touch of the sound when tuned to Open G with a capo at the 4th fret, which was supposed to be how he played the Terraplane Blues family of Open G tunes....

 

Here is some music:

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=It-tJ8DOjIk]

 

 

BluesKing777.

 

The Kalamazoo KGs were Gibson-made small body guitars which sound remarkably similar to a Gibson L00 or a... Gibson L1. The reasons for their popularity now are that a) people know Robert Johnson played one, B) people know Tommy Emmanuel plays one, c) people know that they sound like small-bodied Gibsons of the same era, and for a while they were way cheaper. Not so now, since everybody wants one. On this forum in response to blind shoot-outs, we've confused Hummingbirds and J45s, AJs and J45s, Songwriters and J45s, J200s and J45s. I don't think we're really good enough to spot whether RJ is playing an L1 or a Kalamazoo or a Stella or whatever. And that's before you factor in the theory that the recordings were sped up: sped-up Johnson. The article here is sceptical, but some still believe it. But in any case, we can't be sure that RJ tuned to concert, so even if the records capture his true speed, working out what guitar he used on the basis of the sound of our guitars tuned to open G and capo'd at the 4th fret is not necessarily going to yield a definite model identification. Granted, though, it is more scientific than waiting at the crossroads in case his legendary teacher drops by and tells us what he used. Especially since we don't know the identity of the crossroads either. Personally, I think that the Gibson pictured belonged to Old Nick, who insisted that RJ be photographed with it just once as evidence of their pact. Here's Johnson on mogadon:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AP41CehCLsw

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The "Robert borrowed that guitar to pose for the photo" line has never made sense to me. Why would the guy dress to tne nines -- fancy suit, including handkerchief neatly folded and placed in pocket, perfectly knotted tie, shinny shoes, and fedora cocked at the perfect angle -- and then borrow a beat up guitar to pose for a photo?

 

d1c5e79be91f7c1e3c6ccff571feab81.jpg

 

The photo only makes sense if that is his guitar. Now, I'm not contending that he played that particular guitar on any of his recording. (Although because the songs were recorded to Edison cylinders, mastered to 78s, and what we hear remastered to another format I don't know how anyone can claim to be able to discern from the recordings what guitar he played.) And I certainly believe the likes of Johnny Shines and others who report that he usually played a Kalamazoo. But, imho, the borrowed guitar claim isn't supported by a close examination of that photo.,

 

 

I think this photo does not show a beat up guitar, but a heavy reflection of some source of light on the upper side of the guitar body and on the headstock.

 

If somebody wants to give away their L-1 or alike, I'll take it.

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He still hasn't matched Johnson's skill. Personally, aside from the fact that he covered Crossroads Blues, I've never really been able to spot any aspect of EC's playing which is seriously influenced by Johnson.

Its about the angst, the suffering soul. You're right about the licks. EC is on record as saying RJ's music is for 2 guitars. He can do it but it's not his MO. For others, its their lifeblood.

 

EC> Stones in My Passway.

 

Rory Block.

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I think this photo does not show a beat up guitar, but a heavy reflection of some source of light on the upper side of the guitar body and on the headstock.

 

 

I agree with this. Look at how washed-out the headstock looks. I'm pretty sure the "wear" we are seeing is primarily reflections from the lighting, which was probably pretty primitive.

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