Gibson revives a lost Ted McCarty design from the 1950s with the Theodore

The instrument was designed around the same time as the Explorer and the Flying V.

Gibson’s Custom Shop has announced the Theodore, a new guitar that’s based on an unused and slightly unusual design, made by its former president and legendary guitar innovator, Ted McCarty in 1957.

The guitar was designed in the same sweep of modernisation that birthed the Flying V, the Moderne and the Explorer. The new Theodore was based on McCarty’s original blueprints for the never-before-made guitar, which were found in the Gibson archives and dated 18 March 1957.

The other instruments McCarty helped design make up the bulk of the most iconic shapes in Gibson’s catalogue: the Les Paul, the ES-335, the Flying V, the SG, the Firebird and the Explorer.

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Notably, the use of the hockey-stick headstock on the Theodore’s designed from 1957 predates the Explorer’s use of it by a year. Guitar history aficionados might know that the early prototype Explorers (also known as the Gibson Futura) had a split reverse-V headstock, before Gibson changed the design to use the hockey-stick for the final model in 1958.

The new Theodore features an alder body with a walnut centre strip, a set mahogany neck, an Indian rosewood fretboard with a 12-inch radius, 22 narrow-tall frets and a 24.75-inch scale length.

The body is double-cut, with the Florentine-style cutaways providing a sharp departure from the cutaways found on double-cut Les Paul Juniors, Specials or SGs found within Gibson’s catalogue.

Hardware and electronics are reminiscent of a Les Paul Special, with a wraparound tailpiece, two soapbar P90 pickups and a Les Paul-style arrangement of control knobs – a volume and tone for each pickup, and a three-way toggle switch. The tuners are vintage-style Klusons with cream buttons.

The guitar comes finished in either natural, cherry or ebony, in all cases a nitrocellulose gloss finish. Limited to just 318 total instruments worldwide, the Theodore lists for $4,999. To find out more, head on over to gibson.com.

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