In the early days, it’s no secret that Gibson prioritized mandolins. The mandolin focus was reflected in the company’s original name: Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co., Ltd. They strung their guitars with steel strings instead of gut, which suggests they may have viewed the guitar as a derivative of the mandolin family. In 1908, the suggestion of Gibson’s “mandolin approach” to guitar building became clear with the introduction of the Style O model and its unique scroll body. But the Style O was more than just a radical shape; it was a forward-thinking design that helped usher in the modern guitar.
Although the influence for the carved scroll and pointed cutaway is obvious, the Style O is not simply a larger-scale version of a Gibson F-style mandolin. In the early 1900s, most guitars had small bodies and only short 12-fret necks, whereas the Style O is 16" across and has 15 frets clear of the body. Its pointed cutaway might not have the circular or cupped shape of the cutaways we see, but it works the same way; it gives you easy access into the higher register.
Until the L-5 was released, the Style O was the most expensive guitar in the Gibson catalog. From a manufacturing point of view, the elaborate Style O design was more complex than a guitar with a symmetrical body shape, and the carved top and back further complicated the build process. Compared to other Gibsons of the time, the Style O also has more ornamental detail (Black finish, Fleur de Lis inlay and pearl dot in the scroll, which required more labor and cost.
This 1910 Gibson Style O is a great example of the early model specs with a black top finish before it was renamed the "Style O Artist." Because of the visual appeal, Style Os have a lot of interest among collectors, and sadly it's rare to find one that actually plays decently. But this one is an exception! This one is a delightful player with a nice setup, and its old-time sound connects you with a different era of music.
As for repairs, this 1910 Gibson Style O has had a neck reset, and it looks like the neck heel cracked when that was done. It is all properly repaired and stable now. In that area, the part of the looks to have been re-glued, and the back center seam has been re-glued, too. Other than that, it has been refretted, and it has a new nut. The tuner buttons were properly replaced at some point, and there are various binding re-glues/touch-ups around the body. It has its original tailpiece, original pickguard, and original bridge.
This 1910 Gibson Style O is an impressive relic of a bygone era. It's got a chunky V neck profile—almost like a mandolin. It's not a loud guitar, but its tone is sweet and haunting. It's hard to imagine there are other Style Os that play as well and sound as good as this one.
This 1910 Gibson Style O includes a custom-fitting Cedar Creek hardshell case. It may be 112 years old, but this old box sure has stories left to tell. Playing and handling a guitar like this is a sincere pleasure.