by Benoît Meulle-Stef

(edited by Gregg Miner)

Chapter 3. Surviving Through Time

After a few years of production the guitars of The Gibson Company underwent a big change in 1908. Some of the techniques from Orville were dropped to ease the mass production. The harp guitars where changed and only the Style U survived. The new harp guitar now had a floating bridge with a separate tailpiece. The bridge was made of maple with an ebony top. The tailpiece consists of an acetate (celluloid) piece with 2 “U” bars attached to a back plate screw to the central tail block. The strings are held by short bridge pins. The scale was standardized to 24 ¾ inches. The neck junction is more modern with a dovetail cut on a flat part of the body. The wood for the back and the sides was changed to Birch (though the catalog stated maple again), but the necks, blocks and reinforcements bars were still made of mahogany. The harp’s headstock was angled a little more by making the top of the octagonal arm a little bit longer. The carved top was softened and the soundhole ring changed to the same design of the L4. A new logo was put on the headstock – an angled “The Gibson” in a handwritten script. A pickguard was added at the same time, held by two brackets on the side of the guitar. Tuners, finish and inlays remain the same as the previous Style U.


Central page of the 1911's "H" catalogue with the new style U harp guitar. Note extensive literature about tuning, construction and players.

These photos show perfectly the transition between the two periods. Note the change in inlays, color, neck joint, head position, logo, soundhole ring and bridge.

(Photo by Gregg Miner)

On these images you can see the difference in design: The logo, the position of the sub-basses tuners, the top of the octagonal arm, the inlay and the head angle.

(Photos from  eBay and

The new Style U harp guitar with the most common finish and appearance. The new neck junction is visible. The back of the instrument is birch.

(Photos from

A fantastic example of flamed birch back. You can also see the brackets that hold the pickguard in place.  

(Photo from Vintage Guitar)  

Chapter 4 >

Article by Benoît Meulle-Stef with the help of:

Mr Gruhn for original catalogue material and help.

Gregg Miner for help with English, photos and formatting.

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