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Gibson Guitars

Orville Gibson of Kalamazoo, Michigan produced his first guitar in 1894. In the years following, he crafted guitars and mandolins based on the arch-top design used for the violin. Due to high demand for the instruments, Gibson sold his patent and naming rights to a group of financiers in 1902, forming the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Company. Gibson employees continued to work on innovations to Gibson guitars, including the adjustable truss rod and height-adjustable bridge, both introduced in 1921.

Gibson produced its first electric guitar in 1935, the EH 150 made for Hawaiian music. In 1936, Gibson introduced the ES-150, which was adopted by jazz artist Charlie Christian as his primary instrument. The ES-150 is now unofficially known as the Charlie Christian model. Another Gibson milestone in electric guitars was its first solid-body guitar produced in 1952. Gibson contracted with popular musician Les Paul to launch the instrument. The Les Paul Model became the best-selling signature guitar in history.

The collectability and value of vintage Gibson guitars is dependent on the style and model number. The model number of a Gibson hollow-body guitar is sometimes tagged or stamped on the inside of the instrument, especially for higher-end models. Gibson used several serial number systems, and some of these were similar between decades. There are several online guides that help collectors determine the year of a vintage Gibson guitar.

Quick Facts

  • One of the best ways to help determine the date of a vintage Gibson guitar is the peghead logo. Gibson used different peghead logos for pre-war guitars, guitars made during World War II, and post war guitars
  • A Gibson ES-150 with a Charlie Christian pickup dated from 1936 to 1939 is currently valued at $4,000 to $5,000
  • In 1962, John Lennon and George Harrison purchased matching Gibson J-160E guitars. John Lennon's guitar disappeared at a 1963 gig, but resurfaced 50 years later and was sold at auction in November 2015 for $2,410,000

Recommended Items at Auction

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Nov 06, 9:00 AM MDT
by Davis Brothers Auction
Est: $750- $1,000
$101 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Gibson Guitars

Davis Brothers Auction

Davis Brothers Auction