This is one of the more interesting instruments we've ever had here at Truetone Music (and we've had a lot of unique ones over the years). If vintage harp guitars are your thing, you may have just landed on a gold mine. We can't imagine getting another, especially not one in such good condition. This is a once in a lifetime type of instrument - we are proud to present this 1908 Gibson Style U Harp Guitar.
The Harp Guitar was originally released in 1902, and various iterations were made over the course of a few decades, until 1925. Originally, there were 4 models, but by 1908, Gibon had condensed it down to just the Style U. The most well-known version had 10 sub-bass strings, which is what this one is. The top is made of carved spruce, and while the Gibson catalog said that the back 7 sides were maple, most were built out of walnut (that's what this appears to be). The neck and harp support are mahogany. The ornate scrolled upper horn is like a Gibson F-style mandolin, and the oval soundhole and rosette also represent the style that Gibson used during this era.
The previous owner contacted Gibson directly about it, and was able to get verification that it is indeed a 1908 Style U Harp Guitar. While they do not have serial number records from that time, and cannot state how many were made that year, they did authenticate it. The instrument bears serial # 8545, and we could not locate an FON on it. While we don't have any details on its life from 1908 until the 1990's, here's the history we can state:
The previous owner purchased the harp guitar from a former music store owner in New Mexico. That owner bought it at a music festival in Virginia in1993, from another music store owner. For years, the instrument graced his music store in Prescott Arizona, until retiring in 2005, and keeping it in his home in Albuquerque. In 2013, the most recent owner purchased the harp guitar and brought it to Los Angeles. Now, in 2022, it is a showpiece and present for sale here at Truetone Music in Santa Monica.
The instrument has been refinished (top & back) in black, so it's hard to tell the original color, but it's believed to be black as well. There are several repaired and cleated cracks that are stable - no issues there. There was a neck crack near the guitar headstock, which was well done and has stood the test of time. Our vintage expert/top luthier inspected and vetted the instrument. Overall, it's in surprisingly good condition, and sure to last many more years.
This harp guitar has 10 sub-bass strings, arranged in two rows of five, and a fixed bridge. It also has an engraved tailpiece bridge anchor that reads "The Gibson" and original ebony endpin. The bridge has either been replaced or repaired, as it seems that some of the wood has been replaced. Some of the bridge pins have been replaced, but all 16 original pins are included.
It comes with a custom wood hard case, which was handmade by the previous owner. He actually took this instrument to play live (imagine pulling this out at a gig!) and needed a case to transport it safely, so he made one. It's very well done from the standpoint of protecting the exterior, and transportability. We, nor the previous owner that made the case, are not making claims to it being the best or perfect thing for this instrument, but it is good to have.
Due to the size, shape and weight of the case, we'd like to focus on selling this locally - but if you are not in Southern California, and need it shipped, please contact us directly to discuss.
This is truly a piece of history, and an instrument that blows the minds of most everyone that sees it. We are excited to have it here, and look forward to adding it to the collection of the next proud owner.