Recreation of 1900's Gibson O archtop

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Recreation of 1900's Gibson O archtop

Postby Chris Richards » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:21 pm

Well, this was quite a mission! I'd never seen one of these until a friend gave me a guitar book about a year ago, for a number of reasons I was fascinated with the guitar, probably mostly because of the mandolin style upper bout. I continued my research and found a website with some anatomy pictures and also some other websites that gave quite accurate dimension from which I managed to do a scale drawing.

I didn't want to and to be honest couldn't produce a replica but I was very interested in building a kind of modern version of the guitar with a slimmer neck fitted with a truss rod. It turned out to be a very involved project, I have made one archtop before but this was quite different, some weird top carving around the front of the body and other "not normal" things.

Anyhow it's a carved spruce top, carved maple back and sides, like I say I was very keen to turn out quite an accurate looking reproduction but with modern features, I realise that it probably wasn't going to produce what people would consider a good tone because of the round hole and non suspended neck, at the moment it has been stung for the first time and I'm pleasantly surprised, it plays great and to be honest the sound is good.

The finish is nitro cellulose and I had no intention of doing a perfect finish for two reasons a) it would have taken too long and I have many paying jobs to get on with and b) I wanted it to look like it had a bit of age. The label inside clearly states that it is built by me as a homage to the original Gibson and I really don't think anyone would be fooled that it is the genuine thing.

I have a ton of build pictures if anyone is interested.
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Re: Recreation of 1900's Gibson O archtop

Postby Barry Daniels » Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:19 pm

Very cool. Now you could build an F-5 mandolin.
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Re: Recreation of 1900's Gibson O archtop

Postby Brian Evans » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:33 pm

I find that quite stunning, to be honest. Looks and probably sounds as good as an original. Do you have a picture or description of the internal bracing of the top?

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Re: Recreation of 1900's Gibson O archtop

Postby Chris Richards » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:46 pm

Here's the inside, the bracing is simple parallel, I did find some pictures on the web of an original being restored and copied that, I'm not sure how long the guitar was in production but quite a while it seems and during that time there were quite a few subtle changes, it did get a truss rod at some point and it seems that the carving of the top and back changes around the cutaway and scroll so I just went with the best pictures I had.

And yes Barry...Funny you should mention an F5 Mandolin!
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Re: Recreation of 1900's Gibson O archtop

Postby Ed Minch » Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:55 pm

Chris

Great job - had you done a carved top before? You made yours 15 frets to the body- what were the originals? Is that a pearl inlay of "the Gibson"? I would love to see some construction shots - can you PM them to me?

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Re: Recreation of 1900's Gibson O archtop

Postby Jim McConkey » Wed Feb 21, 2018 4:42 pm

Please post any construction shots here so that everyone can see them! We'd love to see them.
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Re: Recreation of 1900's Gibson O archtop

Postby Randolph Rhett » Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:11 pm

Very interesting. I have seen that body style coming out of China (Yungzi, Wu, etc) and had no idea it was a historical design.
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Re: Recreation of 1900's Gibson O archtop

Postby Chris Richards » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:12 pm

[Expletive deleted by staff; please read forum policy] that body style has nothing to do with China....Orville Gibson defined the the archtop guitar, gave birth to it!!!!
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Re: Recreation of 1900's Gibson O archtop

Postby Randolph Rhett » Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:32 pm

Chris Richards wrote:[Expletive deleted by staff; please read forum policy] that body style has nothing to do with China....Orville Gibson defined the the archtop guitar, gave birth to it!!!!



Yes, thank you for the profanity laced history lesson. I know who Orville Gibson was. Now grab yourself and sit down. As it turns out, Gisbon wasn't a god. The Gibson Guitar Company is not a church. Jesus Christ did not own a Gibson guitar. I know those statements may have shaken you deeply.

Many people feel that Lloyd Loar defines the archtop with the 1922 introduction of the L-5, not the Style O which was a relic of history by 1924. I apologize if your delicate sensibilities were hurt when I pointed out that I only see these being made in China and didn't realize they were attempting to duplicate the Style O. For me the classic arch top looks like an L-5 or an Epiphone De Luxe. I was aware that the very first archtop guitars were mandolin like, but had imagined them looking more like an "F" style mandolin and less square shouldered. I thought what I was seeing from China was an odd approximation. Now I understand that it is actually quite accurate. But I will say 10 "hail Orvilles" and 2 "Goldtop Les Pauls" for my sins.
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Re: Recreation of 1900's Gibson O archtop

Postby Chris Richards » Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:18 am

Hi Randolph

Please accept my sincere apologies...Basically a case of too many beers at the pub last night and I should have locked my keyboard away when I got home! I didn't want to drink that much but my friends dragged me in one last pub, my heels were sparking on the pavement trying to resist...So like I say I'm sorry and had no intention of offending.

That would have been quite cool if Jesus had played the guitar though...
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Re: Recreation of 1900's Gibson O archtop

Postby Joshua Levin-Epstein » Tue Feb 27, 2018 6:18 am

First off: Wow. Chris, that is quite a piece of work.
Second: My interest was piqued by Randolph's mention of those Chinese guitars. The mandolin style guitars that I saw are obviously inspired (my word) by Monteleone. Intellectual property issues aside, you have to give those Chinese guitar makers some credit for not just turning out another Gibson copy, especially if they put their own name on the peg head.
Third: Wow. Chris, that is quite a piece of work.
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Re: Recreation of 1900's Gibson O archtop

Postby Chris Richards » Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:18 am

Thank you for your comments Joshua. It took me quite a while to work up the enthusiasm to build another archtop, they're sooo much work, I still can't believe how long it takes to carve a top and back plate, I'm wondering if I've got the right personality/mind set to build archtops. I've been looking at Andy Manson's website and the quality of his work is simply stunning it's something I would love to aspire to , to this end at some point I'm going to have a go at a Mandolin and refuse to accept inaccuracies.

This guitar was never meant to be a show piece as I just didn't have the time and as a result believe me there are a good few short comings, there's a little filler around some of the binding and to neaten-up the binding I masked and sprayed over it, also the finish is a bit "quick and dirty" although I was after an aged look and I am really pleased with the way it looks. For some reason colour is REALLY important to me and most of the time on the finish was spent getting these colours instead of getting a perfect finish.

One thing I was really pleased with was the method I used to glue the top and back on but I'm not sure whether to post it here or in another thread....

Thanks again
Chris
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