The Guitar & the New World
A Fugitive History                                  by Joe Gioia

In late November, 1935 Carmelo Gugino, a 67-year-old immigrant businessman in Buffalo, NY, applied for a patent, granted April, 1938, for two guitar designs meant to keep the ultimately deforming stress of the strings off of the body of the instrument. The first plan, a metal neck-and-frame surrounding a separate, removable wood body, never went into production. The second, pictured right, attached the strings to each end of a long neck bout that slid into a channel the length of the instrument; string vibration reached the sound box only via an adjustable trestle bridge. Gugino produced an estimated 250 archtop guitars using this modular design.

Its advantages are unclear. The long neck, essentially a bow with six metal strings, was certainly built to last, and the body suffered no warping pull at all. But a good guitar has no need to come apart, and a more integral neck bout would have probably increased volume. One positive feature of the unique neck--no dovetail joint--was good for jazz playing; in effect a cutaway at the neck under the player's hand to aid fingering at the low frets.

Maybe because the string vibration travels exclusively through the bridge, the Gugino archtop has a very focused, bright, plugged-in tone, a very American sound.



A nice article on Gugino Guitars, along with a bunch of neat photos, is available from the good people at VintageArchtop.com