Buying classic musical instruments – a flat ukulele or Gibson guitar

A flat ukulele – Perhaps the most ubiquitous musical instrument in a home will be a flat ukulele and then possibly a guitar or a piano. A flat ukulele or guitar have singular advantage over a piano because of its portability and the fact that most popular music bands today usually have at least a flat ukulele or a guitar.

a flat ukulele

A flat ukulele or guitar market itself is replete with glitzy looking instruments manufactured mostly in third world countries. However, there is a large market for the upscale instrument and especially those instruments that have attained almost mythic, classic status. These are normally older instruments and are typically very pricey.

What makes a Flat Ukulele or Guitar a Classic Musical Instrument

There is no straight forward answer to this question. In some cases, the classic status may be conveyed upon it because a famous performer typically played that type or brand of instrument, i.e., Rickenbacker guitars and the Beatles. In other cases, Hamano ukulele or Makai ukulele or guitar may have been related to a particularly important musical genre. Finally, the instrument may be of such high quality that many, over the years have acquired them because of the materials, workmanship and the reputation of the instrument relating to its playability and sound.

The manufacturer in and of itself is not nearly as important as the particular model or style. For instance, a new Martin D45 commands a price of over $4,000. This guitar is a steel stringed, acoustic guitar played by many of the top country and western performers.

A classic D45 might have been manufactured in the late 40s or 50s with the body fashioned from Brazilian rosewood. This is automatically a classic and will command a price well in excess of $10,000 (depending upon condition). This points up one of the best aspects of owning a classic instrument: they hold their value and usually increase in value over time and many amateur guitarists might consider purchasing a classic for its playability and resale value.

The Top Acoustic and Electric Classic Guitars

Hamano ukulele

In the acoustic “Flat Top” guitars types are:

Martin D18, D28, D35 and D45s. Any of the older model years (Brazilian rosewood)
Gibson J200 (1950s, 1960s model years), Gibson Humming Bird 1960,
Epiphone acosutic guitars from the 1960s
Taylor Model 810 – 1978

Among the best known electric guitars include:

D’angelico Guitars(1932-1964) Among the finest “F” hole and hollow body electric guitars
Gibson ES models from the 1950s and 1960s and 1960s ES series semi hollow bodies, Gibson Super 400
Fender Jaguar, Fender Stratocaster (Fender Strat) 1960s era
Gretsch Country Gentleman (1960s)/Chet Atkins Models
Rickenbacker Guitars 1960s era

Certainly, some very fine guitars, destined to be classics are made today. For example D’Quisto guitars, Mortoro Guitars, Buscarino, and Benedetto Guitars are among the finest instruments available today. As the desire to possess beautiful and fine instruments continues, the market for classic guitars will continue to evolve and prices will continue to climb.

History Of the Gibson Guitar

In 1894 Orville Gibson, a restaurant clerk in Kalamazoo Michigan, working in his home wood shop made his earliest known musical instrument. He carved the archtop design of the violin and added this to his mandolin and guitar. These designs, the A shape and an F shape remain a standard for Gibson guitars as of today.

He then started his company the Gibson Mandolin -Guitar Mfg. Co. Ltd. His models were built extremely well and so popular that he could not fill the growing orders, with his one man workshop. In 1902 five Michigan music store owners bought his patent and the rights to his name for $25,000 and kept him on as a consultant. He received a pension and royalties until he died in 1918.

The Golden Age of Gibson Mandolins

Gibson dominated the world in mandolin musical instruments during the golden age of mandolins. They used non-conventional ways of retailing with photos of ensembles and orchestras in catalogues and ads. In 1921 a woodworker who worked for Gibson had played music with Orville Gibson named Ted McHugh invented two things that would change guitar history, the Truss Rod and the Adjustable Bridge. They are still in use today

Gibson introduced the F-5 (featured the f hole) Mandolin and the L-5 Guitar. In the early 20’s, when the mandolin was giving way to the Tenor Banjo. These designs were very successful still, Gibson nearly went bankrupt during this time.

Makai ukulele

In 1934, jazz bands were starting to get bigger and Gibson responded with advancing the size of the L-5 and the Archtops from 16 to 17 ” increasing the volume. They also Introduced the 18″ wide Super 400. These are still regarded as the pinnacle of Archtop design.

The Birth of the Gibson Electric Guitar & The Gibson Les Paul

In 1935 the first Gibson electric guitar was introduced. The EH150 (Hawaiian style) and their ES -150(Spanish style) guitars were sold for $150.00 with the matching amp. During WW11 Gibson introduced the J-45 Jumbo & the Southerner Jumbo. These two became the workhorse Flattop Guitars for the coming generations. In 1944 The Chicago Musical Instrument Co. one of the largest wholesale and distribution companies purchases Gibson.

Between 1946-1951 Gibson perfected the P-90 single coil pickups and created newer models like the ES 5 with 3 pickups and ES -175, the L5 CES and the Super 400CES. CES meaning (Cutaway Electric Spanish). Then in 1952 launched The Solidbody line of Electrics with The Les Paul Model. Paul was a big performer and recording star in the 50’s and they hired him to introduce the model that became the most successful Guitar in history.

The Hollowbody and the Solidbody & Gibson’s Semi-Hollowbody ES-335

From 54-57 the Tune-o Matic Bridge and the Humbucking Pickup were installed on the top line models. Modernistic Models like The Flying V, Moderne and the Explorer cause quite a stir in 1958 at the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) trade shows. And in 1958 the ES-335 combined the Solidbody with the Hollowbody model. It became their Semi-Hollowbody one of the most successful concepts of the Electric Guitar era.

In 1969 The ECL and Equatorian Company bought Gibson and its parent company CMI. The new entity was called Norlin. In 1974 The Nashville plant opened and production was split between Kalamazoo and Nashville. Then, In 1984, after 65 years the plant in Kalamazoo closed it’s doors.

Slingerland Drums, Baldwin Piano & Kramer Guitar

In 1986 after more financial problems Gibson was taken over by current owners Henry Juszkiewicz and David Berryman. With new consumer confidence in the Gibson brand and acquisitions of other musical instrument companies like Slingerland Drums and Kramer Guitars and Baldwin Piano in 2001, Gibson has become a prestigious name once again.

With the Gibson Standard Les Paul, the Gibson Custom Les Paul, the Les Paul Studio, the Les Paul Junior and the Les Paul Classic models, Gibson gained popularity and respectability among musicians all around the world.

In 2002 Gibson celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Les Paul Model and introduced the world’s first digital guitar utilizing MAGIC Transport protocol developed by Gibson Labs. This was considered the greatest advancement since the invention of the Electric Guitar.