Ted McCarty

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Theodore "Ted" McCarty (1910 – April 2001) was an American businessman who worked with the Wurlitzer Company and the Gibson Guitar Corporation. In 1966, along with Gibson Vice President John Huis he purchased the Bigsby Company and became its President. He is known for his pioneering work while at Gibson, presiding over many guitar innovations and designs between 1950 and 1966. [1]

Life and career[edit]

Born in Somerset, Kentucky in 1910, McCarty earned a degree in engineering from the University of Cincinnati before joining the Wurlitzer Company in 1936. [2] He stayed with Wurlitzer until 1948 when he was recruited by Gibson. At that time, Brach's Candy was also attempting to recruit him. [3]

McCarty was chosen as vice president of the Gibson Guitar Corporation in 1949, then later as president in 1950. He remained president until 1966. This period became known as Gibson's golden age of electric guitars.[citation needed] During his tenure the Gibson Les Paul was designed. Never satisfied, McCarty sought to create a hybrid design that would combine the sustain of a solid-body electric with the mellow warmth of a hollow-body. The ES-335 was created as a "semi-hollow", with both a central block running the length of the guitar and hollow wings. McCarty was also responsible for the development of the Tune-o-matic bridge system, the humbucking pickup, and the Explorer, Flying V, Moderne, SG and Firebird guitars. Like Leo Fender, McCarty never played the guitar. He instead talked with every guitarist he could in order to find out what guitar players were interested in.

In addition to his numerous inventions, he also is responsible for increasing Gibson's production from 5,000 guitars a year to more than 100,000.[citation needed] This increase in production allowed Gibson to grow from 150 employees to over 1,200 employees during McCarty's 18-year span as president.[citation needed] In 1966 McCarty retired from Gibson and became president of the Bigsby Company.

In April 2000 McCarty became the very first person interviewed for the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History program, a video collection of interviews with many of the leaders and pioneers of the music products industry.

McCarty died in April 2001, at the age of 91.

Relationship with Paul Reed Smith[edit]

McCarty became the mentor of Paul Reed Smith. Smith found out about McCarty during a visit to the U.S. Patent office in the early 1980s, where he kept noticing McCarty's name among Gibson's patents. Smith later hired McCarty as a consultant, and credits his experience with McCarty as a defining moment in his company. In 1994, Paul Reed Smith's company PRS Guitars, launched the McCarty model as a tribute to McCarty. Previously, no instrument or company ever bore his name.


  1. ^ The Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. Smithsonian Institution. "The Electric Guitar-Ted McCarty and Paul Reed Smith. http://invention.smithsonian.org/centerpieces/electricguitar/pop-ups/inno-01.htm
  2. ^ "Ted McCarty: I'm Not a Musician" by Willie G. Mosely Vintage Guitar(April 1999) http://www.vintageguitar.com/2826/ted-mccarty/
  3. ^ "Ted McCarty: I'm Not a Musician" by Willie G. Mosely Vintage Guitar(April 1999) http://www.vintageguitar.com/2826/ted-mccarty/

Further reading[edit]

  • Carter, Walter. Gibson Guitars: 100 Years of an American Icon. Los Angeles: General Pub. Group, 1994.
  • Hembree, Gil. “Gibson Guitars: Ted McCarty’s Golden Era: 1948-1966.” Hal Leonard Corp, 2007.