Posted on by Walter Bryant



We’re confident that Joe Bonamassa can extract good tone out of any instrument he touches, and further proves his wicked playing abilities in his latest facebook post. This time, he’s strumming on a 1919 Gibson Style U Harp guitar. We’re not sure if this super-rare instrument is his, but he sure does play it like it is! We found some great information below from regarding this classic guitar. Read on and learn more!




The harp-guitar was produced by the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Company from its inception. While its 1903 catalog featured three harp-guitar models, Styles R, R-1, and U, the first two were soon eliminated in favor of the Style U, as seen in the advertisement below from their 1912 catalog. With its ten sub-bass strings tuned chromatically from A-sharp to G-sharp, the harp-guitar was an ideal instrument to fill out the sound of the mandolin orchestra. The bass strings were to be plucked by the thumb, while the chords could be played, as on a conventional guitar, on the top six strings over the fretboard.

Advertisement for the harp-guitar from Gibson's 1912 catalog


Harp-guitar with its original case

Other old-fashioned examples held up to mockery included the “dear old grandma” who insisted on using candles and the “quaint old Massachusetts town” that still used oxen for public works. Concluding with a fanciful, not-so-subtle metaphor, Gibson stated that “Because the elevator to success (the Harp-guitar) has been generally stuck (construction not permanent), you have been toiling up the stairs (the six-string Guitar), but the ‘Gibson’ Harp-guitar is the elevator never stuck. Come in. It’s only 16-2/3 cents a day (a mere pittance, a few cigars or a little candy daily sacrificed) and the matchless ‘Gibson’ Harp-guitar with black leather case is yours to use and enjoy now.”

Front, Back, and Side Views

Front view Bass side view Treble side view Back view

Front, Back, Side, and Lower End Views of Body

Front view Bass side view Treble side view Back view
Lower end

Maker’s Label and Soundhole

Inscriptions:  Inlaid in peghead, in mother-of-pearl: The Gibson

Printed in black ink on paper label, the model, style, and number written in ink:  Gibson Harp-guitar Style U / Number 21789 is hereby GUARANTEED against faulty workmanship or material. Should / this instrument with proper care and usage, go wrong, / we agree to repair it free of charge at our / factory, or replace with another of the same style or value. / GIBSON MANDOLIN-GUITAR CO. / (Manufacturers) / Kalamazoo, Mich., U.S.A.

Stamped into tailpiece mounting plate:  PAT. APPLIED FOR

Stamped into pickguard:  PAT. MAR, 30, ’09

Stamped in black ink on neck block: 2145


Peghead, Fretboard, and Tuning Pins

Front of peghead Bass side of head
Back of peghead Treble side of peghead
Tuning pins with tuning key Back of tuning pins

Lower End of Neck and Neck Heel

Back of neck heel Neck heel
“Harp-Guitar by Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Company, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1915.” Harp-Guitar by Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Company, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1915. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.