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Gibson debuts the Theodore, a brand-new body shape based on a 65-year-old archive design

Gibson has introduced the first-ever model in its newly established Gibson Archive Collection, the Theodore – an electric guitar based on a 65-year-old sketch that debuts a brand-new body shape.

Named after the company’s former president Theodore “Ted” McCarty, the six-string’s design was conceived way back in March 1957, when McCarty – who had helped Gibson develop the Les Paul, SG, Explorer and Flying V – sketched and signed a drawing of a prospective new instrument.

The sketch was unearthed from Gibson’s Vault, and after a period of fine-tuning the original blueprint, the Theodore is officially released today – exactly 65 years to the day McCarty drew the design on March 18, 1957.

Only 318 units of the limited-edition model will be made, as a nod to the date it was originally created.

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Gibson Theodore

Gibson Theodore in Natural (Image credit: Gibson)
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Gibson Theodore

Gibson Theodore in Black (Image credit: Gibson)
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Gibson Theodore

Gibson Theodore in Cherry (Image credit: Gibson)

It’s certainly an eye-grabber. Sporting reverse Florentine cutaways that look almost like inverted SG horns, the Theodore also utilizes an Explorer-style scimitar headstock, an off-kilter triangular pickguard and a racing stripe-style center strip.

The Theodore is immensely faithful to McCarty’s original sketch – which you can check out below – and includes almost everything the former Gibson president envisaged. The original design, for example, foresaw a wraparound bridge and center strip, both of which were included. Heck, even the output jack is in the same place.

The only deviations are the pickguard shape and position of the three-way selector switch. While McCarty proposed the toggle be situated on either one of the cutaways, the Gibson team instead decided to place it near the rest of the tone control circuit.

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Gibson Theodore

Theodore "Ted" McCarty's original sketch, dated March 18 1957 (Image credit: Gibson)
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Gibson Theodore

Theodore "Ted" McCarty (Image credit: Gibson)

Specs-wise, the Theodore is available in Natural, Cherry and Ebony colorways, and features a two-piece alder body with a walnut center strip. This is paired with a chunky ‘57 C-shape mahogany neck, topped with a 22-fret, dot-inlaid rosewood fretboard.

Other appointments include a wraparound bridge, historic Black Top Hat control knobs, Kluson tuners and a nylon nut.

In the electronics department, a pair of custom Soapbar P-90s are hand-wired to the Gibson-standard control layout comprising two volumes and two tones.

As mentioned above, the Theodore is the debut model in Gibson’s all-new Gibson Archive Collection. While details surrounding the new series are currently pretty slim, we’d wager it will breathe life into some more historic designs in the near-future.

The Theodore is available now for $4,999, and arrives with a historic-style brown/pink case, leather guitar strap, print of the original signed design and deluxe certificate of authenticity.

To find out more, head over to Gibson (opens in new tab).

Gibson Theodore

(Image credit: Gibson)

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Matt is a News Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.