Gibson’s Theodore enters regular rotation as the Standard, updated with a pair of 57 Classic humbuckers for “effortless sustain and a rich diversity of tones”

Gibson Theodore Standard
(Image credit: Gibson)

Gibson has officially welcomed Theodore into the family as it launches the doublecut electric as a US production line model, complete with refreshed features, a more affordable price tag, and a trio of smart finish options.

The Theodore Standard is offered in Ebony, Vintage Cherry and Antique Natural, and wears them all well. After some teasers from Gibson president and CEO Cesar Gueikian’s Instagram feed, it was the Nashville-based guitar brand’s own news site, the Gibson Gazette, that first brought the news that the Theodore, once a curio in the company’s history, was now joining its regular lineup of electrics. It is quite the comeback.

The Gibson Theodore was one of those electric guitar designs that was forgotten and seemingly destined to be lost forever until 2022, when an Archive Collection release resurrected the model as a limited edition Custom Shop build. 

The guitar, which began life in 1957 as a Ted McCarty’s sketch, was finally on the market, but with only 318 units made – and a street price of £4,399/$4,999 – it was one for the collectors. 

The Theodore Standard changes that. This is the Theodore officially inaugurated as a Gibson model, with a list price of £/$1,999. There are some key differences to the original Archive Collection Theodore. 

Where the upscale Custom Shop version had a walnut centre stripe, the Standard is all mahogany. The electric guitar pickups have been updated, swapping out the P-90s of the original for 57 Classic and 57 Classic humbucker pairing – appropriate, given the year the Theodore was first designed. 

Tonally, these pickups are from the PAF family tree. Both are based around an Alnico II magnet, with the Classic Plus wound just a little hotter than the Classic so it’ll give you more punch at the bridge position.

The controls have been simplified, too, with these new models featuring hand-wired volume and tone controls to serve both pickups, Orange Drop capacitors used as standard. The three-way pickup selector switch is in the same position but is not sitting on a poker chip washer.

The Theodore Standard should also give players an updated ride, with the new models swapping out the clubbier neck shape for a a SlimTaper mahogany neck, which is once more glued to the body, and topped with a 12” radius Indian rosewood fingerboard. 

Where we had dot inlays before, we now have acrylic trapezoids. Where the originals had a wraparound tailpiece, the Standards are fitted with an ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic bridge and aluminium stop bar.

Besides these changes, this Theodore Standard is a chip off the old block. It has the same asymmetric body shape, with the distinctive dual florentine cutaways giving it a look that is vintage-modern, but also floral – there’s a whiff of the tulip to the shape. The Theodore Standard shares its forebear’s ‘scimitar-style’ six-in-line headstock, which is fitted with Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners in a nickel finish to match the bridge.

Other features to note include the multi-ply black pickguards, which have a similar shape to the previous Theodore. There are 22 medium jumbo frets, a Graph Tech nut, a lick of nitrocellulose lacquer finishes off the guitars nicely, and you’ve got a hard-shell guitar case to keep that finish in decent nick.

For more details, head over to Gibson

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.