by Jef | Approximate reading time: 2 Minutes
Gibson Theodore Ebony

Gibson Theodore Ebony  ·  Source: GIBSON

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The new Gibson Theodore is a Custom Shop model, available in three finishes. The guitar is inspired by the drawing of one time Gibson president Ted McCarty. At $4999 you will have to be a fan of the brand history, as it is one oddball design.

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Inspired by Original Drawings From 1957

Theodore McCarty, or Ted as he is more better known, worked at Gibson during what many would call the company’s Golden Years. He headed up projects like the Flying V and Explorer, along with the iconic ‘Electric Spanish’ ES-335 and was around the those infamous early ’57, ’58 and ’59 Les Paul Standards. Then on 18 March 1957, he detailed and signed this drawing for a new solid body instrument, which was never produced. That is, until now.

Gibson Theodore in Ebony, Natural and Cherry finishes

Gibson Theodore in Ebony, Natural and Cherry finishes

Archive Collection

Gibson Custom Shop is making this “Archive Collection” of  just 318 instruments, which is possibly about 300 too many in my opinion.

Theodore - Inspired by Original Drawings From 1957

The new Gibson Custom Shop Theodore model – Inspired by Original Drawings From 1957

Gibson Theodore

To say that the new Gibson Theodore is an acquired taste is putting it mildly. I really do suspect that it will divide opinions straight away. Plus, it is retailing for $4999! The Theodore has an alder body, a scimitar headstock, double Florentine cutaways, and a walnut centre strip, which on paper sounds okay. You get a mahogany neck and an Indian rosewood fretboard with 22 historic tall/narrow frets.

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It is powered by a pair of P-90 pickups with black covers and two volumes, two tones, and a three-way pickup selector. Gibson has also used bumblebee capacitors and CTS pots. The hardware consists of a simple wrap-around bridge, plus a set of Kluson six in-line tuners with cream buttons. The Theodore is available in either Natural, Cherry or Ebony nitrocellulose finishes.

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Value for money?

It ships with a Gibson Historic case, and the case candy consists of a premium leather strap, a print of the original signed drawing by Ted, a 1957-style catalogue page print, and a Deluxe Certificate of Authenticity booklet. I have no idea where the price tag of $5k comes from, but I think I would have to be mad to want to buy one myself, as it is an ugly duckling at best!

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10 responses to “Gibson Theodore: A guitar inspired by a 1957 Ted McCarty sketch”

  1. Ab. says:

    They’re done scraping the bottom of the barrel, they’ve started digging underneath

  2. William Paxson says:

    Somehow, something about that body design just channels a 60’s Teisco Del Rey K-Mart special which means Ted McCarty was either really prescient in 1957 or really drunk when he designed it.

  3. SA says:

    Personally, I actually like the look of it, but there’s no chance I’d actually buy one at that price. Another one for the collectors market!

    • Darryl Moore says:

      I like it also But would like to see a bass verison.
      Reminds me of 2 different models , 1 by Martin
      1 early Rickenbacker , Tulip shaped

  4. Janschfan Dunn says:

    Sure looks like a 50’s Rickenbacker 950 Tulip…

  5. Bob says:

    Ugly thing. Gonna buy them all.

    • Dig Baddy says:

      Looks to me like some guy with woodworking skills (really talented cutting board builder at the flea market) decided to build a guitar, and this was his first one.

  6. Dig Baddy says:

    Strikes me that there is a very valid reason why (genius) Ted Mccarty designed this guitar and then decided to never never build it!

  7. Craig says:

    Come on guys… where’s your will to be weird? I think it is kinda cool.

  8. Darryl Moore says:

    I have Thunderbird , Exployer bass , would like to get Epi EB3 , and Allen Woody Rumblekat , but Theodore would good in both long and short scale

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