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account of a real 1950s Moderne?

vintage58

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Modurne.jpg
Very cool guitar! :salude..Do you know what range (i.e., alphabet letter) of serial numbers it belongs to? And if it's yours, did you purchase it when these guitars first came out?
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Ellwood

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Thanks, it's a B series, bought in 82/83 I think? yes it's mine and I still have it, it's a great guitar!!
 

GotTheSilver

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If a real Moderne from the '50s surfaced and was authenticated, it would potentially sell for big bucks. The fact that no one has brought one forward to make money off of it strongly suggests to me that none exist. Until one surfaces and is authenticated, I think all this talk of them is just a bunch of rubbish.
 

Tom Wittrock

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If a real Moderne from the '50s surfaced and was authenticated, it would potentially sell for big bucks. The fact that no one has brought one forward to make money off of it strongly suggests to me that none exist. Until one surfaces and is authenticated, I think all this talk of them is just a bunch of rubbish.

What about the patent for the body shape?
Do you think they did not make an example, while bothering to patent a mere drawing? :hmm
 

Ellwood

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If a real Moderne from the '50s surfaced and was authenticated, it would potentially sell for big bucks. The fact that no one has brought one forward to make money off of it strongly suggests to me that none exist. Until one surfaces and is authenticated, I think all this talk of them is just a bunch of rubbish.


Should we stop talking about them right now? or could we perhaps have a few more posts? I mean a little more rubbish wouldn't hurt would it? or are we concerned with band width?
 

vintage58

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Thanks, it's a B series, bought in 82/83 I think? yes it's mine and I still have it, it's a great guitar!!
Thanks for this info, Ellwood. If there's any way you could recall the exact month/year that you purchased your guitar, that would be great. The reason that I'd be interested in finding out, is covered in greater detail in this recent thread about Modernes.
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Ellwood

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Ok Vintage58, I'm trying to tie the buy to something in the past? maybe the boss remembers? I'm sure it was 82/83 right in that time frame... hummm.... I know where I bought it and they are still in business, I wonder if they have some kind of a file on the buy?
 

vintage58

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Ok Vintage58, I'm trying to tie the buy to something in the past? maybe the boss remembers? I'm sure it was 82/83 right in that time frame... hummm.... I know where I bought it and they are still in business, I wonder if they have some kind of a file on the buy?
Well, I'd be very surprised if they did. But, hey.... that would obviously be terrific, ya know. :)

I dunno—I suppose the way to jog your memory would be, as you suggested, to recall other things that were going on in your life at the time. From the more general to the more specific, I guess. For example, seasons. That is, assuming that the winters are cold and the summers are hot where you are, perhaps you might remember what the weather was like at the time? Alternately, were you a student at the time (as a particular year of study might put a more specific time frame on things)? Or perhaps you might know that you bought the guitar while holding a particular job somewhere. Stuff like that.

But anyway, yeah—if the original store has a record of the sale, then that would obviously be the "ultimate," but I'd be somewhat shocked if they did.
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pleximaster

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Old thread I know...


I am a believer that there are some real prototypes out there.

Ted Maccarty said in an interview that there were at least a handful of Moderne prototypes
Made in various finishing states.

And I truly believe Dan Erlewines story and that that moderne guitar came from Gibson

Who would fake a modern that early on in time, people didn’t even know about their eventual excistens




Now here's Dan Erlewines post from the LPF re this with a response from Robb Lawrence.

Dan Erlewine
Fret Mechanic

Registered: Jul 2001
Location: Athens, Ohio
Posts: 1594 I did have a moderne for a short while. . .

. . . It belonged to a man in Detroit. He had taken it back to Gibson at some point and had a Melody Maker neck put on it because he liked his buddy's Melody Maker neck better. I bought it thinking that it was an Explorer which I had never seen either. This was in the days when you never checked anything before buying it or else didn't want to spoil the deal by messing around and waiting. You snatched fast.

I only owned the guitar for days. I took off the pickguard and found secondary routing underneath, and etc. I realized it wasn't "original," and quickly sold it for the same $175. that I paid for it.

I sold it to the Ann Arbor Music Mart and they put it in the window. Soon George Gruhn's manager and ex Herb David Guitar Studio employee at the time that I worked for Herb (and ex-guitar student of mine) Doug Green came walking along. Doug was in town visiting. (This is now "Ranger Doug" of Grand Old Opry fame).

Doug saw it, called George and described it and they concluded that it was a moderne (It had been). Doug bought it instantly for $1000.

Later George was ticked when he found the same things I had found but Ann Arbor Music Mart plead "Caveat Emptor".

I heard that the guitar sold to a Japanese collector. This was early 1970s.

It was a moderne body, and a real Gibson. Plus the owner was just a normal guy, not a dealer (dealers didn't exist, except for George), not a hustler, just a guy that wanted a quick $175.

I think I made a few fast VERY strange attempts to patch up the unwanted pickup holes fast and finish over them. $175 would have broken me. I had to sell it ASAP. I may have (of all things) filled the holes with plaster of paris. It couldn't have lasted long, for sure. I had never used "Bondo" at that point, nor did I have an industrial epoxy that might have worked.

I hadn't the time or desire to fill the holes with wood, and at that time I sure didn't have a milling machine to help me do it well.

Think what you like, but it was a Moderne. I wish I had taken pictures of that "Explorer".

more tales from the crypt . . . .

59Cherrytop
Les Paul Forum Member

Registered: Jul 2001
Location: Southern California
Posts: 34 Black Moderne backup story

While visiting Gibson and Ann Arbor in 1972, some very knowledgable local guitar guys told me about that very Moderne guitar in black. They played the guitar a few times and described it as having the Gumby headstock and biggest neck they had ever played! This all happened before the Detroit fellow unfortunately had Gibson reneck it. That Louisville slugger must have been as big or bigger than most Explorers.

A few years later when Gruhn told me that he had a black Moderne with an odd neck, I instantly thought of the one I'd heard about but didn't put two and two together at the time. I thought someone had seen that black one and made a cheap copy. I personally believe Dan actually had this very guitar from his description here. Maybe it was painted black due to the streaks of dark coloration Korina sometimes has.

During my interviews at Bigsby with Ted McCarty in '72, he discussed the three guitars and showed me his design patents. I mentioned I had seen a few Explorers and Flying Vs but never the rare "Sailfin" guitar. Ted said they made a few Modernes but didn't know what had happened to them. He added that many prototypes of various guitars were destroyed. I know they sometimes were bought by employees.. such as the 1951 sharp cutaway Les Paul solidbody I found in Kalamazoo that year. Therefore this modified black Moderne is quite the Rarebird of solidbody Gibsons.

I did hear of another natural one up in the Northwest that is under complete wraps. The lady and her husband know exactly what it is and are totally hush about it. No pictures or articles whatsoever. If that's on the level, maybe it will surface someday as the real "Holy Grail"!

Speaking of the Reverend's Sailfin; Billy Gibbons once showed me a black and white photo of his Moderne guitar at a concert. It was on a proof sheet and was very hard to see clearly. He invited me to play it in Houston sometime. Billy said he wasn't sure what to think of it. Someday I'll get a gander at it.

Now Dan remembers it as having a Melody Maker headstock on it (straight no ears) and that it had had it's neck replaced by Gibson. Robb's story somewhat corroborates this. We can also guess that this is the guitar that Gruhn remembered when commenting on the guitar in the Wheeler book. Maybe the Wheeler book guitar is yet another guitar or maybe Dan is mistaken in his Melody Maker memory. I do have some issues with the Gumby headstock in that it's not very "Gibson-like" to make something that impractical, maybe some had it (Dan's guitar before it was renecked) and some didn't (the guitar in Japan, Billy's?)

Take all of this with a HUGE grain of salt.

BTW notice the Gibson concept drawing has notation on it to build it out of Popular





Here is a thread from my Les Paul forum about various moderne Gibson copies fakes and Asian versions

http://www.mylespaul.com/threads/anybody-ever-seen-a-real-moderne.2238/
 

jrgtr42

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There was an article in Premier Guitar magazine a ways back, maybe around the time this thread was originally active - regarding the Moderne and the legends around it.
|Like you mentioned, there were a handful of prototype / pre-production examples made, but from what I understand those were destroyed in the company morgue in the early 60s or so, once there was no interest in it. If any did get out, it would have been just one or two, if that. Guessing the Erlewine is one, who knows where it could be today. Billy Gibbons allegedly had one, it could be this guitar or another - there's one picture of him in a car with a bunch of guitars that supposedly has his in there, but the instrument is obscured by others, it's not a clear pic.
 

agogetr

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i used to buy guitars from an old retired gibson rep, he passed in 2021 r.i.p. his name was duane hess he told me he was a gibson sales rep for decades, anyone know of him?
he told me when he retired he had 5 or 6 guitars left from being a rep and one was a moderne, he told me he sold all the guitars to a guy in san jose california and they went to the guys ranch. thats just what he told me. i think i have a way of finding the guy but i,m keeping that up my sleeve till i get a chance to follow it up!
i know...pretty far fetched
 
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madrivermoco

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i used to buy guitars from an old retired gibson rep, he passed in 2021 r.i.p. his name was duane hess he told me he was a gibson sales rep for decades, anyone know of him?
he told me when he retired he had 5 or 6 guitars left from being a rep and one was a moderne, he told me he sold all the guitars to a guy in san jose california and they went to the guys ranch. thats just what he told me. i think i have a way of finding the guy but i,m keeping that up my sleeve till i get a chance to follow it up!
i know...pretty far fetched
This is the Northwest Moderne, no? Like Beano, it has stayed quieter than it should have for this long…

(I don’t know that this guitar exists at all. But there are rumors occasionally. And the line from 1957 Gibson to Oregon is clear. Has anyone asked them?)
 
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agogetr

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This is the Northwest Moderne, no? Like Beano, it has stayed quieter than it should have for this long…

(I don’t know that this guitar exists at all. But there are rumors occasionally. And the line from 1957 Gibson to Oregon is clear. Has anyone asked them?)
yes, northwest. duane told me about it years and years ago, then before he passed i asked him again and he said he did have it and sold it along with a few other guitars he had laying around from his gibson days...who knows
 

madrivermoco

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yes, northwest. duane told me about it years and years ago, then before he passed i asked him again and he said he did have it and sold it along with a few other guitars he had laying around from his gibson days...who knows
Duane was co-owner of Tom’s Guitar in Oregon. If you’re a Moderne sleuth, it maybe worth following that up. I’m more interested in what happened to the “two dozen” guitars that went through San Antonio. Ponty saw more than his mahogany/korina Futura before the train departed San Anton for El Paso and Juarez.
 

Vics53

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There's always a chance someone could have possession of one of these guitars and not have a clue as to what it is. An uncle of mine has a Gibson from the 50's (ES model, 1 cutaway, 2 P90's) that he gave to one of his daughters. She doesn't play guitar at all and doesn't know anything about it. But to her it's gold because it's something special from her dad. I'm sure this type of thing happens a lot more than not.
 
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madrivermoco

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There's always a chance someone could have possession of one of these guitars and not have a clue as to what it is. An uncle of mine has a Gibson from the 50's (ES model, 1 cutaway, 2 P90's) that he gave to one of his daughters. She doesn't play guitar at all and doesn't know anything about it. But to her it's gold because it's something special from her dad. I'm sure this type of thing happens a lot more than not.
Right

But Duane Hess, regional sales manager at Gibson 1957-79 just got name dropped here with a story that he owned and sold a Moderne. I’ve never ever heard that. I have heard there is one, in the northwest and they know what they have. I just think this stuff is cool. I know more about the train schedules in 1957-58 from San Antonio to Juarez than I have any right to…
 

Vics53

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Right

But Duane Hess, regional sales manager at Gibson 1957-79 just got name dropped here with a story that he owned and sold a Moderne. I’ve never ever heard that. I have heard there is one, in the northwest and they know what they have. I just think this stuff is cool. I know more about the train schedules in 1957-58 from San Antonio to Juarez than I have any right to…
Seems to me it's entirely possible that one or maybe a few Moderne's escaped from the science lab!
 

jrgtr42

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Seems to me it's entirely possible that one or maybe a few Moderne's escaped from the science lab!
Possible? Sure. more than one or two? unlikely. IMO. There's no evidence that I'\ve seen that more than a few were ever built - and there's testimony that they were destroyed in the company morgue not long after. Could one or two have escaped that fate? Yep, but it's interesting that in the 60+ years since there's been zero official sightings. If I had one, I'd want it to be documented - hopefully with my identity kept secret; I wouldn't want the publicity. But to let Gibson know that it's there, and maybe a few guitar historians.
 

Vics53

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Possible? Sure. more than one or two? unlikely. IMO. There's no evidence that I'\ve seen that more than a few were ever built - and there's testimony that they were destroyed in the company morgue not long after. Could one or two have escaped that fate? Yep, but it's interesting that in the 60+ years since there's been zero official sightings. If I had one, I'd want it to be documented - hopefully with my identity kept secret; I wouldn't want the publicity. But to let Gibson know that it's there, and maybe a few guitar historians.
It's interesting to speculate how many gems are out there with folks not knowing what they have. You know: "my great uncle use to own this guitar. I don't play, but it's an old Gibson." In a slight way this reminds me of the gentleman who owned John Lennon's J-160 for all those years and didn't have a clue as to exactly what he had in his possession! Not that it was a rare guitar model, but wow! I can only imagine how I would have felt if I was in his shoes.
 

jrgtr42

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It's interesting to speculate how many gems are out there with folks not knowing what they have. You know: "my great uncle use to own this guitar. I don't play, but it's an old Gibson." In a slight way this reminds me of the gentleman who owned John Lennon's J-160 for all those years and didn't have a clue as to exactly what he had in his possession! Not that it was a rare guitar model, but wow! I can only imagine how I would have felt if I was in his shoes.
|I don't disagree there. |How many of us HAVEN'T daydreamed of strolling up to a yard sale somewhere and finding a 'Burst, or early Strat, D'Angelico or what have you sitting out there, tagged at $20 or whatever.
I'm sure there are still undiscovered 'Bursts out there, (they do show up from time to time, and half of those end up in Joe B's collection...) and likely some original V's. I think the original Explorers are pretty much accounted for. |That's the big question though on the Moderne - how many were actually built, how many destroyed, and what happenned with the rest? Unfortunately, the builders logs that would have detailed all that for us at Gibson are lost, so unless someone like Strings Jr comes up, who worked for them back then and kept his own records, we'll never really know for sure.
 
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