How Gibson’s Byrdland took flight and bridged the gap between traditional jazz boxes and electric solidbodies

Gibson Byrdland
(Image credit: Future)

The year 1954 was a watershed one for Gibson. For the first time in the company’s history, electric guitars outsold acoustics. In the post-war era, musical tastes were changing fast and Gibson rose to the occasion in order to meet demand at every opportunity. 

After Ted McCarty came onboard in 1948 as CEO (soon to be president) of Gibson, the company hit one home run after another: the perennially popular ES-175 in 1949; the flagship L-5CES and Super 400CES electric archtops in 1951; and its first solidbody, the Les Paul Model, in 1952. 

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Rod Brakes

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar WorldGuitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.