Gibson launches the Theodore Standard amid ongoing trademark dispute

The guitar, inspired by unearthed drawings from the 50s, was initially released as a limited edition Custom Shop model in 2022.

Gibson Theodore Standard

Image: Gibson

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Gibson has unveiled its new Theodore Standard electric guitar. Previously announced as a limited-edition Custom Shop model in 2022, the instrument is now available in Gibson stores worldwide as a regular production model.

In the words of the guitar giant, it’s not every day that Gibson releases a new body shape. The Theodore Standard, for one, is said to be inspired by original drawings from 1957 – a sticky issue in itself we’ll get into later, the same era when the legendary ES-335, Flying V, and Explorer models were designed to modernise the brand’s product lineup.

Specs wise, the guitar is pretty much everything you’d expect to see in a Standard version of the 2022 Theodore. Features include a symmetrical mahogany body, scimitar headstock with Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, and double Florentine cutaways that provide easy access to all 22 frets on the guitar’s rosewood-capped, SlimTaper mahogany neck.

The Theodore Standard’s powerful ‘57 Classic and ‘57 Classic Plus humbucker pickups produce effortless sustain and a rich diversity of tones, while the instrument’s light weight and balanced construction make it a joy to play. Players also get a pretty streamlined control layout, with just master volume and tone knobs as opposed to Gibson’s usual 4-knob circuit. Additional appointments include an ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic bridge, acrylic trapezoid inlays, and a Stopbar tailpiece.

And if the ‘Theodore’ name sounds just a bit more familiar than it probably should be, it might be because the term has been at the centre of a trademark dispute between Gibson, and PRS and Ted McCarty’s estate, with the latter two seeking to cancel Gibson’s trademark for the name.

Their petition claims that the mark misleads guitarists into assuming McCarty’s estate officially sanctioned the guitar, arguing that “consumers of guitars would recognise the name Theodore as identifying Theodore McCarty” when Gibson does not have the right to use his name or public persona. It also claims a potential confusion with PRS’s existing trademark for “McCarty”, used for the brand’s 1994 guitar model.

For the uninitiated, Theodore ‘Ted’ McCarty was a guitar designer for Gibson between 1948 and 1966. He helmed the company from 1950 till 1966, a period often referred to as the brand’s golden era — and is the man whose sketches Gibson have based the Theodore and new Theodore Standard on.

Gibson Theodore Standard
Image: Gibson

That said, Gibson’s latest promo for their new Standard model has ostensibly omitted any and all mention of McCarty himself in the origin of the design, likely in a bid to avoid further legal pushback amid its ongoing trademark battle.

“Developed from original drawings discovered in the Gibson Archives, the Gibson Theodore Standard is based on a design from 1957 that was only previously available as a limited edition 2022 Gibson Custom model,” the brand states.

Priced at $1999, the Gibson Theodore Standard arrives in Antique Natural, Vintage Cherry, and Ebony finishes. A hardshell case is also included with each purchase.

Learn more at Gibson.

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