Gibson Es-355 With Bigsby Vibrato

Date:
1959
Publisher/Studio:
Kalamazoo, MI: Gibson Inc.

In 1958 Gibson introduced the ES-355, a semi-acoustic electric guitar with pickups mounted on the solid section of the body. This model, played by Chuck Berry, jazz guitarist Grant Green, and a number of 1960s rock and roll groups, is most closely identified with B.B. King. A special feature of this guitar is the Vari-tone circuit which, in the highest position, gives the instrument its distinct nasal sound. The ES-355's standard vibrato system, made by Bigsby, allows for the rapid raising and lowering of the pitch of the strings, known as the tremolo effect.

Location:
National Museum of American History Room 334, MRC 604 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW Smithsonian Institution P.O. Box 37012 Washington, DC 20013-7012 Washington DC , District of Columbia
Identifier:
10.031
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Gibson Ultratone

Date:
1948
Publisher/Studio:
Kalamazoo, MI: Gibson Inc.

The Ultratone model lap-steel guitar, introduced in 1947, was designed with bright colors and geometric lines to create a "modern" package. The use of hinged coverplates that conceal the tuning pegs, pickup, bridge, and tailpiece added to the unusual look. The Ultratone was featured in Gibson's first post-World War II catalog.

Location:
National Museum of American History Room 334, MRC 604 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW Smithsonian Institution P.O. Box 37012 Washington, DC 20013-7012 Washington DC , District of Columbia
Identifier:
10.032
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Gibson Flying V

Date:
1958
Publisher/Studio:
Kalamazoo, MI: Gibson Inc.

Designed by Gibson president Ted McCarty, the Flying V was the firm's first boldly shaped electric guitar, introduced in 1958. It was developed as part of a modernistic line of guitars which included the Explorer and the never-manufactured Moderne. But the design proved too extreme—sales lagged and production ended within two years. Then in the late 1960s, musicians like Albert King and Jimi Hendrix helped revive the popularity of the Flying V, and this induced guitar makers to develop other adventurous designs.

Location:
National Museum of American History Room 334, MRC 604 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW Washington, DC 20013-7012
Identifier:
10.033
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Gibson Explorer

Date:
1958
Publisher/Studio:
Kalamazoo, MI: Gibson Inc.

The angular Explorer was introduced as part of a line of guitars designed by Gibson's Ted McCarty in 1958. These new and unusually shaped instruments were made possible by their solid-body construction. Without the need for hollow sound chambers, guitars could be made in almost any style, as long as they were comfortable to play. Like its Flying V companion, the Explorer was considered too radical at the time and was soon discontinued. It was reissued in the late 1970s and 1980s to greater success.

Location:
National Museum of American History Room 334, MRC 604 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW Smithsonian Institution P.O. Box 37012 Washington, DC 20013-7012 Washington DC , District of Columbia
Identifier:
10.034
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Fender Lucite Duo-sonic

Date:
1960
Publisher/Studio:
Fullerton, CA: Fender Electric Instrument Company

Introduced in 1956, the Duo-Sonic has double cutaways like the Fender Stratocaster, but only two pickups. The Duo-Sonic, and its single-pickup Musicmaster companion, was a three-quarter-size student model electric guitar. This particular guitar was made of Lucite for trade-show purposes. By using new synthetic materials, designers created an ultramodern look for the solid-body electric guitar.

Location:
National Museum of American History Room 334, MRC 604 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW Smithsonian Institution P.O. Box 37012 Washington, DC 20013-7012 Washington DC , District of Columbia
Identifier:
10.035
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Gibson Skylark

Date:
1961
Publisher/Studio:
Kalamazoo, MI: Gibson Inc.

The Skylark lap-steel guitar was introduced in 1956. It is made out of the same African limba wood, but is not as unusually shaped, as Gibson's Spanish-style Flying V and Explorer models. Designed to be a budget model, the Skylark became Gibson's most successful lap-steel of the late 1950s and 1960s.

Location:
National Museum of American History Room 334, MRC 604 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW Smithsonian Institution P.O. Box 37012 Washington, DC 20013-7012 Washington DC , District of Columbia
Identifier:
10.036
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Mosrite Strawberry Alarm Clock

Date:
1967
Publisher/Studio:
Bakersfield, CA: Mosrite Company

This neon green, uniquely shaped instrument is an extreme example of Semie Moseley's design innovations. It reflects the culture of the late 1960s, when it was custom-made as one of a matched trio of neon-colored guitars for the band Strawberry Alarm Clock. Influenced by Paul Barth of the Electro String Instrument Corporation (Rickenbacker) and by Roger Rossmeisl of the Fender and Rickenbacker companies, Moseley is best known for the guitars he custom-made for The Ventures.

Location:
National Museum of American History Room 334, MRC 604 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW Smithsonian Institution P.O. Box 37012 Washington, DC 20013-7012 Washington DC , District of Columbia
Identifier:
10.037
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Rickenbacker 331 Light Show

Date:
1971
Publisher/Studio:
Santa Ana, CA: Rickenbacker, Inc.

The unusual Light Show model was made in limited quantities from 1970 to 1975. Behind the translucent top of this guitar are rows of different colored bulbs that light up depending on which particular frequencies are played. The special effects reflect an era of increasingly flashy concerts in large arenas and the rock music popular at the time.

Location:
National Museum of American History Room 334, MRC 604 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW Smithsonian Institution P.O. Box 37012 Washington, DC 20013-7012 Washington DC , District of Columbia
Identifier:
10.038
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Gittler

Date:
1971
Creator:
Alan Gittler

A custom guitar maker, Alan Gittler continually experimented with the minimalist approach, using simple materials and removing all aspects of the traditional guitar that he considered unnecessary. By 1978 he had perfected this skeleton design and was building limited quantities by hand.

Location:
National Museum of American History Room 334, MRC 604 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW Smithsonian Institution P.O. Box 37012 Washington, DC 20013-7012 Washington DC , District of Columbia
Identifier:
10.039
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Mosrite Custom

Date:
1980
Publisher/Studio:
Bakersfield, CA: Mosrite Company

This guitar was handmade by Mosrite Company founder Semie Moseley, in gratitude to a financial backer. The body is laminated walnut and maple, and the bronze hardware was cast from molds. Its frets were uniquely designed to reduce neck vibration, connecting to an interior bar that runs through the length of the guitar's neck.

Location:
National Museum of American History Room 334, MRC 604 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW Smithsonian Institution P.O. Box 37012 Washington, DC 20013-7012 Washington DC , District of Columbia
Identifier:
10.04
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History