Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 53

By 1908, the company had simplified the
guitar line. Catalog offerings were whittled
to a lineup that remained relatively stable
for years - the L-1, L-3 and a dramatically
redesigned Style O, plus a single Style U
harp-guitar. The company no longer
offered each in several sizes; instead,
each model took on a specific size and
shape. Also, neck angles were increased,
bridges became taller, and the increased
pressure on the top yielded a louder,
punchier sound. All were built of the same
materials- birch back and sides (not maple,
as the catalogs claimed), spruce top, mahogany neck, and an ebony fingerboard
inlaid with pearl dots. The necks were
substantial and had a heavy V contour.
Early versions often had no pickguard,
but by Catalog I of 1911, the raised "guardplate" was definitively a stock fitting (the
previous catalog listed it as an extra-cost
option). The L-1 was the basic model,
131/ 2" wide with the standard features but
minimal ornamentation. At $35, it would
have been affordable to students, which at
the time was important because Gibson
sold through teacher-agents only, not music
stores. The L-3 was essentially the same
instrument with a pearl "f lumadiddle" on
the headstock and more-elaborate soundhole ring. These cosmetic upgrades were
deemed worthy of a $15 jump in net price,
but most buyers paid for instruments over

(LEFT) The Style O in Catalog K, now with
"The Gibson" logo on headstock. (RIGHT) Alice
Broughton and company with three Style O guitars.

The Style O's nonlogo'd headstock.

December 2016

53

VINTAGE GUITAR

time along with their lesson plans, so the
cost was amortized over a long span.
In the slightly up-market Artist line,
the paddle-head/oval-hole Style O
series was short-lived. Circa 1909, the
designation had been given to a single
model in the Artist series, a guitar
restyled to harmonize visually with the
top mandolin-family instruments. The
scroll body shape, with treble-side
cutaway, certainly stood out from any
other guitar, though a few would take
inspiration from it. Even today, anyone
(even non-guitarists) looking at the Style
O recognize it as a true original!
The first revised Style O lacked a logo on
the headstock; by 1918, as it was added
in pearl above the inlaid f leur-de-lis.
With its 15th-fret neck joint, it offered
exceptional fretboard access for the time,
though it's likely few contemporary players took advantage of this - early Style Os
are primarily seen in group settings where
their role would be to accompany, not solo.
Still, with a price of $85 in 1912, the Style
O was aimed at "Artists," and an expensive
proposition compared to the (heavily) pearltrimmed Martin 00-42 at just $80.
The only Gibson pricier was the Style


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 1
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 2
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 3
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 4
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 5
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 6
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 7
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - Contents
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 9
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Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - IBC
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