Skip to main content

Watch Joe Bonamassa put the new Gibson Theodore through its paces

Last Friday, Gibson released the first electric guitar from its new Archive Collection and brought to life a lost Ted McCarty design that had been languishing in cold storage for some 65 years. 

That guitar was the Theodore, and with its P-90 pairing, aggressive double-cutaway body and the six-in-line scimitar headstock more commonly found on the Explorer, it looks every inch the rock ’n’ roll machine. 

Obviously, you can’t release a guitar without a video, and Gibson duly shot a promo documenting the guitar’s storied history, but to demo a guitar such as this – an event guitar – Gibson has reached out to Joe Bonamassa, blues-rock superstar and guitar collector at large, to give this alder-bodied electric a test drive.

Gibson Theodore

(Image credit: Gibson)

As Bonamassa explains, the Theodore was once destined to be Gibson’s first ever solidbody with a double-cutaway, but somewhere down the line it got superseded by the Les Paul Junior. Theodore? Put away for a rainy day, and that arrived came 65 years to the date of the original McCarty drawing.

Bonamassa, however, believes Theodore was worth the wait.

“The great thing about the history of this company is they were so innovative back in the ‘50s,” he says. “And they were thinking about not making guitars for jazz guys; they were embracing the rock ’n’ roll era. What happened between 1952 and 1963, everybody in the world who makes guitars is still chasing it.”

Those looking for a more aggressive looking alternative to a doublecut Junior would do well to act now. The Archive Collection Theodore is limited to 318 units worldwide.

For more details, head over to Gibson (opens in new tab).

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.