Gibson Prewar Orchestral Collection
Between 1939 and 1941 Gibson produced basses, cellos, violins and violas. According to "Spann's Guide To Gibson 1902-1941", in 1939:
"the center of the violin manufacturing universe was located in Europe, specifically in the countries of Germany, France, Italy and Czechoslovakia...Perhaps the political unrest in those areas led Gibson to predict an opening in the market, as instruments from those countries became unavailable...The violin line never sold in great numbers and was quietly dropped at the end of WWII."
According to the above original announcement, Gibson introduced their violin line in 1939. This line would consist of an assortment of violins from student grade, V-15 to advanced grade, V-100. The VA-43 viola, cello and upright bass were also available in both cermona brown and the all new blonde. Below is the excerpt from this announcement:
"The long anticipated day has arrived when Gibson can announce a Violin - a reliable American made instrument of known quality and value. Fine violin woods have been saved for years, slowly air-seasoning - a finish has been perfected which insures tonal and visual beauty - violin experts in all parts of the country have been consulted. - and so we announce an American made violin built entirely in the Gibson factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan - a violin that can proudly bear the name of Gibson."
Advertising for violins in Gibson catalogs started with the back page of 1939 Catalog AA (the above photo is of 1942 Catalog BB)....The pink slip is a violin insert found in 1939 Catalog AA.
Click on Gibson 1939 Upright Bass or Gibson 1940 Viola to view the actual models.
Below is a brief excerpt from Gibson's 1941 violin announcement (above):
"When fine woods, expert workmen, and the Gibson tradition are brought together under one roof, there can be only one result - perfection! Under these ideal conditions, the Gibson violin is being produced. From scroll to end pin, every vibrating part and all accessories are designed and created in Kalamazoo, Michigan, U.S.A., the home of the Gibson Violin Makers."
This page, along with a few more can also be found in my Gibson Catalog section of this website.
Gibson Violins, Violas, Cellos and Basses have very distinct letter identification which is listed below.
There tends to be a lot of confusion and misinformation about Gibson Violin designation on the internet. I have observed countless times violins designated as V-15, for example, to be touted as "highly advanced". Unfortunately, a V-15 would be only a student model and the starting rung for a Gibson Violin.
Please note the information presented to the left is direct from the brochure, "Gibson Makes Violins", May 22, 1941.
Please take the time to view each tab on this site that is dedicated to Gibson Orchestral Instruments. The core of the collection is represented and should help you understand the craftsmanship behind Gibson's Violins, Violas, Cellos, Basses and Bows.
The announcement on the left side of the above two flyers is the exact ad that appears on the back of 1939 Catalog AA.
The information spanning Gibson prewar violins and basses was produced for such a brief period, that it is nearly impossible to find any real information in print to this day.
There are more prewar violin documents in the 'Catalog' section of this site; also, the following two instrument catagories, Gibson Prewar Upright Bass and Gibson Viola will help shed more light onto these rarely seen or heard of instruments.