Theodore "Ted" McCarty (October 10, 1909 – April 1, 2001) was an American businessman who worked with the Wurlitzer Company and the Gibson Guitar Corporation. In 1966, he and Gibson Vice President John Huis bought the Bigsby Electric Guitar Company. At Gibson he was involved in many guitar innovations and designs between 1950 and 1966.
Life and career
Born in Somerset, Kentucky in 1909, McCarty earned a degree in engineering from the University of Cincinnati before joining the Wurlitzer Company in 1936. He stayed with Wurlitzer until 1948 when he was hired by Gibson. Brach's Candy also wanted to hire him.
McCarty was named vice president of the Gibson Guitar Corporation in 1949, then president in 1950. He remained president until 1966. This period became known as Gibson's golden age of electric guitars.
During his time with the company, the Gibson Les Paul was designed. McCarty sought to create a hybrid design that would combine the sustain of a solid-body electric guitar with the warmth of a hollow-body guitar. The ES-335 was created as a semi-hollow with 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. This increase in production allowed Gibson to grow from 150 employees to over 1,200 employees during McCarty's 18-year span as president. In 1966, McCarty retired from Gibson and became president of Bigsby Electric Guitars.
In April 2000 McCarty became the first person interviewed for the National Association of Music Merchants Oral History program, a video collection of interviews with pioneers of the music industry.
McCarty died in April 2001, at the age of 91.
McCarty became the mentor of Paul Reed Smith. Smith found out about McCarty during a visit to the US 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.
- The Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. Smithsonian Institution. "The Electric Guitar-Ted McCarty and Paul Reed Smith. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-12. Retrieved 2013-07-21.
- Moseley, Willie G. (13 August 2001). "Ted McCarty: I'm Not a Musician". Vintage Guitar. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
- 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.
- Ted McCarty NAMM Oral History Program Interview (2000)