'THE Gibson', or just: 'Gibson'?

Tom Lewis

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I have two soprano ukuleles which I believe to be authentic, late 1920s, Gibsons ... certainly I have no reason to think that they are not! Except that ... neither of them (purchased thousands of miles and decades apart) has the word: 'The' on the headstock. The imprimatur: 'Gibson', on each of them is a simple screen-print.

One (I believe to be circa 1929) has 'single-action' celluloid tuning pieces, whilst the other (I believe to be circa 1929) has Grover, 1 1/2 to 1 (I think) tuners; which suggest a customized instrument.

I'd be very interested in anyone's comments. Thanks, Tom Lewis. (In Ireland.)
 

merlin666

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Online sources suggest that the "the" was dropped around 1937, but also that they were produced in small batches that may have had considerable design changes from one to the next. This may make assigning dates difficult, and maybe there were some batches where the was dropped even before 1937.
 
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Is it possible they were made later? I don’t know a ton about Gibson instruments, but I’d still bet they are authentic.
 

hendulele

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Online sources suggest that the "the" was dropped around 1937, but also that they were produced in small batches that may have had considerable design changes from one to the next. This may make assigning dates difficult, and maybe there were some batches where the was dropped even before 1937.
That’s what I’ve read, too.

i have one from the late 20s that is rebadged with a music store’s logo on the headstock. Just about everyone but Martin relabeled their instruments as promotions for individual stores before the Depression.
 

merlin666

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That’s what I’ve read, too.

i have one from the late 20s that is rebadged with a music store’s logo on the headstock. Just about everyone but Martin relabeled their instruments as promotions for individual stores before the Depression.
Actually between about 1916 and 1922 a large proportion of Martin guitar and possibly ukulele production was labeled as Ditson including specific serial numbers for the Ditson Company music stores.
 

ukulelekarcsi

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Do you have pictures of them? That would easily determine if late 1920s would actually be possible. The rosette, lettering, body depth, size of fretboard dots and number of frets changed dramatically. Also, do peek inside to see if there is some sort of code ink stamped or penciled on the back or on the heel block.

Identifying Gibson ukuleles precisely is more of an art than a science, for a number of reasons: Gibson built them in batches, often reused materials, kept very few achives, made mistakes in their own catalogues... The variables on Gibson ukes are many – fretboard length and decoration, tuners, soundboard material (mahogany or spruce), bracing (conventional or X-braced), headstock logo and headplate, binding (whether top and/or bottom, number of layers), soundhole rosette and heel shape.

Sopranos were only made 1926-1967, and the change in headstock logos simply isn't a very reliable way of determining the age: the slanted silver 'The Gibson' was replaced by a white 'Gibson' logo between 1937 and 1945, and that in turn by the golden 'Gibson' in block style between 1945 and 1950. Give or take a few years...
 
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