Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Vivi-Tone American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 684

The Vivi-tone electric guitar was one of the earliest model electric guitars. It was designed by Lloyd Loar, who had been an engineer for the Gibson Company where he created the iconic F5 mandolin and the L5 guitar. He left Gibson in order to experiment with electric instruments and was a co-founder of the Vivi-Tone company. Loar concentrated his efforts on the electric Spanish style guitar (e.g. classical guitar) rather than the Hawaiian slide guitar that other early electric guitar makers favored. He also built electric violins, mandolins, and keyboard instruments. The electronics are mounted in a removable drawer on the side of the instrument. Energy from the strings are transmitted from the bridge to a metal plate sensed by the coil of the pickup underneath. The wooden bridge features two pivoting wooden arms screwed at their front ends to the top pass under the bridge top and transfer vibration through a block of wood to the guitar's back, which is intended to act as the primary soundboard. The guitar is hollow, with sound holes on the back, and it was intended to function as either an acoustic guitar or as an electric instrument.
The guitar has a thick-rimmed body with a sunburst finish spruce top and back and laminated ribs. The narrow headstock is veneered with ivoroid with and the "Vivi-Tone" logo painted in black. The individual Grover tuners have grained ivoroid buttons. The cast metal tailpiece also has the Vivi-tone name and logo. The enormous pickguard is heavy tortoise celluloid raised above the guitar.

Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Vivi-Tone (American), Spruce, maple, mahogany, ebony, American

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