Les Paul Log

Date:
1940
Creator:
Les Paul

During the 1930s, inventive individuals experimented with guitar bodies made from a solid piece of wood rather than soundboards over a hollow chamber—partly for ease of fabrication, partly to prevent feedback. One of the most prominent innovators was Les Paul. He made this guitar by taking a 4x4-inch solid block of pine, fitting it with two homemade electronic pickups, and then gluing on the halves of a hollow-body guitar to make it look slightly more conventional. Around 1946, Paul took his "log" idea to Gibson. Although the company did not use his design as a prototype, it did work with him and use his name to promote its first line of solid-body guitars in the 1950s.

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:
0.017
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History

K&f Lap Steel With Amplifier

Date:
1945
Publisher/Studio:
Anaheim, CA: K&F Manufacturing Corporation

The K&F lap-steel was radio repairman Leo Fender's initial electric guitar design. He created it with "Doc" Kauffman, who had worked for Adolph Rickenbacker's Electro String Instrument Corporation. Completed around 1943, the first K&F had a solid oak body and mail-ordered fingerboard, and was originally intended to be played like a Spanish guitar. But Kauffman and Fender's Direct String Pickup, based on early phonograph pickups, proved better suited to the Hawaiian style. They applied for a patent on their pickup in 1944; it was granted four years later, after Kauffman had left the company.

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:
0.018
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Epiphone Emperor Electric

Date:
1948
Publisher/Studio:
New York, NY: Epiphone, Inc.

The Emperor model was Epiphone's top-of-the-line archtop guitar, introduced in late 1936 to compete with the popular Gibson Super 400. The electric version's pickups are mounted onto the pick guard and suspended above the guitar body, allowing the top to resonate freely. Gibson bought out the Epiphone company in 1957, keeping the Emperor model as part of the guitar line but redesigning it as a thin-body 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:
0.019
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Slingerland Songster

Date:
1939
Publisher/Studio:
Chicago, IL: Slingerland Musical Instrument Manufacturing Co.

The Slingerland company, best known as a drum manufacturer, also made guitars and banjos. This rare Slingerland Songster electric guitar, featured in a 1939 company catalog, pre-dates Les Paul's "Log" guitar and is probably the earliest Spanish-style solid-body electric guitar model. The guitar's pickup includes individual string magnets as well as a large horseshoe magnet. Slingerland ceased making electric instruments in 1940 in order to exclusively focus on producing percussion instruments.

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:
0.02
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Fender Broadcaster With Amplifier

Date:
1950
Publisher/Studio:
Fullerton, CA: Fender Electric Instrument Company

The Broadcaster, Fender's first mass-produced solid-body electric guitar, initially was derided by competitors as too simple and lacking in craftsmanship. Yet everything about its patented practical design, such as the bolt-on neck, was optimal for production in large quantities. This guitar, serial number 27, was one of the first Broadcasters sold. In 1951, due to a trademark infringement claim, the model's name was changed to Telecaster in honor of another popular invention—television. The many famous artists who have played the Telecaster, such as Jimmy Bryant, Buck Owens, Keith Richards, and Bruce Springsteen, propelled it to the status of a classic.

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:
0.021
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Gibson Les Paul Gold Top

Date:
1952
Publisher/Studio:
Kalamazoo, MI: Gibson Inc.

The Les Paul model was Gibson's first entry into the solid-body electric guitar market, developed in response to the success of Fender's Broadcaster/Telecaster model. Primarily designed by Gibson president Ted McCarty, guitarist and innovator Les Paul's input included the "rich-looking" gold finish and the original combination bridge-tailpiece. In many variations, the Les Paul model has been the mainstay in the Gibson catalog since its introduction in 1952. Paul's close association with Gibson helped make its line tremendously popular.

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:
0.022
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Bigsby Double Neck

Date:
1952
Creator:
Paul Bigsby
Publisher/Studio:
Downey, CA

This Paul Bigsby guitar, custom-made for country singer Grady Martin, has a standard six-string neck coupled with a five-string mandolin neck. Bigsby, a pattern maker and motorcyclist from California, is best known for making one of the first solid-body electric guitars—for country star Merle Travis—and later for his popular line of pedal-steel guitars. Country musicians were avid players of electric guitars from the earliest days of their manufacture.

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:
0.023
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Gibson L-5 Electric

Date:
1929
Publisher/Studio:
Kalamazoo, MI: Gibson Inc.

Musician Lloyd Loar was an exceptional acoustic engineer at the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Company from 1919 to 1924. He designed improvements as well as new models of Gibson instruments, from the F-5 mandolin to the L-5 guitar. The L-5 was Gibson's first archtop guitar with f-holes instead of the round sound hole, and was played by jazz and country musicians including Eddie Lang and Maybelle Carter. As early as 1923 Loar developed an electrostatic pickup system for amplifying instruments. This early experimental electric guitar is equipped with an electrostatic pickup mounted beneath the bridge and with an output jack concealed in the tailpiece.

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:
0.011
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History

D'Aquisto Advance Archtop

Date:
1995
Creator:
James D'Aquisto
Publisher/Studio:
Greenport, NY

Innovation and experimentation in the shapes and sounds of guitars continue today. James D'Aquisto began working in John D'Angelico's shop in the 1950s and, after D'Angelico's death in 1964, continued the tradition of building high-quality archtop guitars. Over time D'Aquisto experimented with design changes, and his own signature style began to evolve. In 1995, D'Aquisto crafted experimental sound holes with removable baffles to control the volume ranges of this blue archtop 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:
0.01
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Mosby's hat

This slouch hat was worn by John Mosby. According to Virgil Carrington Jones, author of Grey Ghosts and Rebel Raiders, this hat was left behind in a house in Rector’s Cross Roads, Virginia, where Mosby was seriously wounded by a detachment of federal cavalry in December, 1864. Forty years later, it was returned to him by the daughter of a 13th New York Cavalry officer.

Location:
Constitution Ave. between 12th and 14th Sts. NW Washington,District of Columbia 20560
Identifier:
0.037
Institution:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History