1912 Gibson Style O Carved-Top "Scroll" Guitar

This beaut has been haunting my repair racks for years, now, stoking lusty dreams for the various people picking through my piles of instruments and looking for their next fix. It's big! It's got a giant scroll! It was flithy when it arrived and in a sad state. It was the perfect dream-supplier.

Its consignor/owner always has a rotating cast of characters here for repair/sale and I kept putting it behind others in his stash. He'd had another Style O in that I fixed-up in 2018 but considering the minor PTSD I still had after working on that one (there are certain types of guitars that become repair-cost holes that I have to just cap fees on at some point), I was in no hurry to fix this guy up which also had some of the same problems. These problems happen because of the nature of the design, unfortunately -- cracked heels, seams bursting, interior support beams trying to push the sides out of alignment -- wonky tops -- fun stuff like that.

Suffice to say, after slaying all those dragons and cleaning it up, it now sounds gorgeous (a lot like a good round-hole '30s Gibson carved-top) and looks respectable and loved. It also plays the business, too.

It has radio station callsigns and dates and a name scratched into the back of its scroll (see photos down the post) and was played heavily over the years -- so much so that pickwear tore-out the soundhole rosette on one side. How about that? It also must have had a DeArmond pickup with "control pod" fitted at one point, too, judging by some wear on the lower bout and a nailed-on ruler stuck in the soundhole when it arrived here.

So, yes, a lovely guitar with just the right amount of wear and tear to "bring it into the family" with. My friend Rick Redington is buying this and it's been a dream of his to have it for a long while, now.

Repairs included: fret level dress, setup, etc.

Top wood: solid spruce (carved)

Back & sides wood: solid birch (carved back)

Bracing type: tonebar

Bridge: ebony (new)

Fretboard: ebony

Neck wood: mahogany

Action height at 12th fret:
3/32” bass 1/16” treble (fast, spot-on)
String gauges: 52w, 40w, 30w, 22w, 16, 12

Neck shape: big V

Board radius: 10"

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: low/small

Scale length: 24 3/4"

Nut width: 1 3/4"

Body width: 16 1/8"

Body depth: 3 1/4" + arching

Weight: 5 lbs 2 oz

Condition notes: it has multiple repaired top cracks and some repaired back cracks, a replacement bridge (new) and tailpiece ('50s era), new bone nut (original stashed away -- spacing was weird), and replacement (but 1930s) tuners. The heel (like all of these) has a repaired crack. It's part of the design flaws with these. It has lots of scratches, scuffs, dings, yellowing, etc. with the finish throughout. I cleaned it up a lot but it's an oldie! What can I say...? The original pickguard is missing.

The serial number appears to read 12993 which would correlate to 1912 per the Mandolin Archive. I've only seen black-backed Style Os from the 1910-1911 era so that makes sense.

Scrawled into the back of the scroll are radio station callsigns and dates.

Underneath that is "Capt Bill Slee."

I know that Mr. Mike Brown was doing some research on all of this. Hopefully he'll chime in!

Above is a quick snap of some of the repairs in-process. The whole upper bout on the back/side seam got reglued as well.

Here's Mr. Redington upon picking-up the guitar after completion.

Later that day, he did a livestream on Facebook:

Here he is with Mike Brown in heated debate over who would take the prize home a while back:


Michael Mulkern said…
This guitar is 110 years old and still kicks a$$. Can't believe how sweet it sounds. Congrats to Jake for bringing this black beauty back to life and and to Rick for giving it a good home.
daverepair said…
I was there the day Rick and Mike were playing push-pull with the Gibson. I almost joined in...Rick looks sooo happy with it! Jake, you'll just have to dig up two more, please!
Lucky guy! I've been lusting for one for a long time! If only the instrument, $$$, and timing were right. Congrats to him!
McComber said…
Man, there's at least a whole month of good stuff to look at and listen to in this one post. What a thing that guitar is! That first picture of Rick is one of the best human things I've ever laid eyes on, and the picture of the plethora of clamps above Rick's picture is like a window into Jake's life. The only reason I keep paying for internet is this blogspot.