Gibson: founded in 1894 by Orville Gibson in Kalamazoo, Michigan, incorporated in 1902 by five Kalamazoo businessmen; became leading maker of mandolins, banjos, archtop guitars, flat top top guitars, electric guitars and basses; acquired by Chicago Musical Instrument Co. in 1944, by ECL (renamed Norlin) in 1970, by current owners Henry Juszkiewicz and David Berryman in 1986; Gibson-branded products are made at various U.S. facilities.

See Gibson's Products page here.

Baldwin: founded in Cincinnati by D.H. Baldwin as a music store in 1862; first vertical (upright) pianos made in 1890, first grands in 1895; became leading American piano maker; played by Liberace, Dave Brubeck, Marian McPartland, Bruce Hornsby; acquired by Gibson in Nov. 2001; pianos made in Trumann and Conway, Arkansas.


Chickering: founded in 1823 by Jonas Chickering, inventor of the one-piece cast-iron frame for grand piano, for which he is known as the father of the modern piano; also introduced "overstringing" configuration; brand name reintroduced by Baldwin in 1995 as highly crafted designer line; acquired (as part of Baldwin) by Gibson in November 2001; pianos manufactured overseas.

To Chickering Story on Baldwin history page.

Dobro®: founded in 1928 in Los Angeles by John Dopyera and his brothers, brand name derived from DOpyera BROthers; made resonator guitars with single aluminum amplifying cone, also one of the earliest electric guitars (in 1933); merged with National in 1932 to become the National-Dobro company, then Valco in 1943; brand not used by Valco after World War II but resonator guitars made by the Dopyera brothers under various brands; brand name revived by Dopyeras in 1964; rights sold to Semie Moseley in 1966; brand name reacquired by Dopyera family, dba Original Musical Instrument Co., in 1970, based in Huntington Beach, CA; acquired by Gibson in 1993 and moved to Nashville in late 1997 as part of new Original Acoustic Instruments division; made since 2000 in The Gibson Bluegrass Showcase in Nashville.

Electar: used briefly as a brand name on Epiphone's first electric guitars and amplifiers (1935-38), then as a product line designation for electric guitars and amplifiers through 1956; brand name revived in the 1990s on Epiphone amplifiers; current line of amps, PA equipment and electronic units sold through MusicYo.

Epiphone: roots to instruments made in Greece as early as 1873 by Anastasios Stathopoulo, who moved to New York in 1903 and made mandolins; House of Stathopoulo brand used by his sons beginning in 1917; Epiphone name (derived from oldest son Epaminondas) introduced on banjos in 1924; became Epiphone Banjo Corporation in 1928; leading maker of banjos in 1920s, then Gibson's foremost competition in guitar market of the 1930s; never recovered after death of Epi in 1943 and acquired by CMI, Gibson's parent company in 1957; new line of guitars made in Kalamazoo introduced in 1958 as "second line" available to non-Gibson dealers; production moved in 1970 to Japan, then Korea and other overseas sources (with occasional special models made in USA); currently acoustic guitars, electric guitars, electric basses, mandolins, banjos and strings, plus Electar amplifiers.

Epiphone home page

Flatiron: founded in Belgrade, Montana, by Steve Carlson; known for mandolins with flat top and back, inspired by Gibson's low-cost Army-Navy model of 1918-22; acquired by Gibson in 1987; moved to Nashville in 1998 as part of new Gibson Original Acoustic Instruments division; made since 2000 at The Gibson Bluegrass Showcase.

Goldtone: amplifiers, vintage-circuit A Class and AB Class amps, introduced 1998 and managed by Gibson Labs division in Sunnyvale, CA: manufactured at the Trace Elliot facility in England until December 2001; manufactured in the U.S. beginning in 2002.

Kalamazoo: budget brand made from 1933-42; models similar to low-end Gibsons but without adjustable truss rod in neck; revived 1965-70 on cheaply made electric solidbodies, amps and one flat top model.

Kramer: founded in 1976, best known for electric solidbody guitars (played by Edward Van Halen); bankrupt in 1990, revived in 1995, acquired by Gibson in 1996; current line includes electrics, acoustics and gear, made overseas since 1998 and sold though MusicYo.

Maestro: electronic effects units in the 1960s and '70s, revived in the 1990s; current line of effects and instruments sold through MusicYo.

Mastertone: first used in the 1920s and still used on Gibson's top line of banjos; also a brand name used on electric products 1939-41.

Oberheim: Electronic instrument company known for keyboards, drum machines and digital effects; acquired by Gibson in 1990; current line of guitar processors sold through MusicYo.

Opcode Systems: music-related software and hardware company based in California, acquired by Gibson in 1998; last new products offered in 2000.

Opcode homepage.

Oriole: used on an inexpensive banjo in the 1920s, then on natural-finish Kalamazoo-brand models in the late 1930s

Slingerland: founded in 1912 when H.H. Slingerland won a ukulele company in a card game, first drums in 1928; leading maker of drums and stringed instruments in the 1930s and early '40s, endorsed by Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich; acquired by Gibson from Fred Gretsch Enterprises in 1994; made overseas and sold through MusicYo from 1998-2003; made in Conway, Arkansas, beginning in 2003. .

Steinberger: founded by Ned Steinberger; best known for basses (introduced in 1980) with rectangular body, headless design and carbon-fiber materials; acquired by Gibson in 1996; made overseas since 1998 and marketed by MusicYo.

Tobias: founded as custom bass shop by Mike Tobias in Orlando in 1977; to various locations in California, 1980-89; acquired by Gibson 1990 and continued as a high-end bass maker; production moved to Nashville late 1992; made overseas and sold through MusicYo from 1998-2003; made in Conway, Arkansas, beginning in 2003.

Wurlitzer: founded in 1861 by Rudolph Wurlitzer in Cincinnati; known for theater organs, the first spinet piano (1936), jukeboxes and electric pianos; keyboard division acquired by Baldwin in 1988; acquired (with Baldwin) by Gibson in November 2001; manufactured overseas.

Valley Arts: custom solidbody electric guitars, founded in Los Angeles in late 1960s; acquired by Gibson in 2002; made in multi-purpose retail and manufacturing facility in downtown Nashville.