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History Of The Archtop Electric Guitar

Gibson es 175The history of Archtop Style Guitars begins with Mr. Orville Gibson, who founded the legendary Gibson Musical Instrument company in 1902. Working from a mandolin patent established in 1898, Gibson crafted a violin shaped guitar intended to deliver significantly more volume and tone. It was crafted from one solid piece of wood that had more girth in the middle than on the sides. This prototype instrument came with a tailpiece and F Holes shaped like teardrops setting the look and style for the archtop guitars of the 20's and 30's.


In the early twenties, Lloyd Load was brought on by Gibson to give the slumping manufacturer a boost by redesigning their entire instrument line. One of Loar's most iconic designs for Gibson was the L5 model. At the time Loar's designs did little to stimulate sales and after a few short years Loar and Gibson parted ways. However nowadays Loar's designs have become part of guitar history and many of his original pieces are highly sought after collectors items costing well in the tens of thousands of dollars. Loar and Gibson set the tone for all the archtop models to follow. Other notable Luthiers who continued to push the design further were John D'Angelico and his pupil Jimmy D'Aquisto, Charles Stromberg and son, William Wilkanowski, and of course the other major instrument makes such as Epiphone, Gretsch, and Selmer. Archtop guitars became the models of choice for players of all genre's due to their volume, tone and resonance.


In the fifties, Gibson came out with the L5CES, which was a two pickup electric model with a single cutaway which worked well in both electric and acoustic settings. The model was later modified in 1958 to include two humbucker style pickups. At this point the electric archtop had found a template in the L5CES, and it influenced all models to follow.

3 Comments »

  • David E said:

    I just visited here on Sunday. The reason, I wanted to know how I could avoid feedback on my Epi/Gibson 175 at church. We play loud with overdrive, lots of times. This morning, I had to set the hollow body 175 aside and use my 335 Dot. But I really want to use the 175 hollow body too. Anyway, the advice given on the home page was encourating, thanks. Suggestions to take care of EQ (add one in the mix line) and maybe stuff the cavity of the guitar. I forgot about that last trick, which I read about years ago. I will give it a try. Thanks… David in Bellville, TX

  • IRACE said:

    HELLO
    I live in paris. Where is your shop in usa? i’m looking for the tal farlow 1966 where can i see it?
    Thank you for your answer. MARC

  • Rob said:

    This is one of the better, easier to read and concise descriptions of the Archtop Guitar History that I’ve read. Was looking for some historical information on archtops for my own website, but the information on wilkipedia is a little bit confusing. Just what I needed.

    Thanks,

    Rob

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