1938 Gugino Style CG Master Archtop
In Buffalo, New York, in the 1930s and early 1940s, luthier Carmelo Gugino Sr. built about 250 stringed instruments including archtop and flat top guitars, Mandocellos, Mandolos, and even Violins that featured high quality conventional building, combined with very unconventional design ideas. Certain innovations included necks that screw on to the body, asymmetrical bodies, and archtops with detachable neck/body joint/bridge pieces that were removable from the body (see photos above and below).
Gugino's extracurricular accomplishments included being on the board of directors of the Peace Bridge Authority and designing the Niagara National Bank building in Buffalo. It was his interest in woodworking, though, that inspired him to build guitars in his spare time. He even held several guitar-related patents (see below). His most unique design was for the "neck through the body" archtop, best described by Scott Freilich as "The neck slid into a channel running the length of the guitar on the top and had the tailpiece connected to its end." Theoreticallly, you can remove the body and still play the instrument (but I must confess I never took mine apart to try it).
Though my blonde Gugino archtop is now with the Gugino family I have fond memories of playing it and composing on it. It's a beautiful and curious instrument with a unique feel and balance and I hope someday to own one again.
Interesting to note: I have done some additional detective work and have found that Robert Taylor cites Gugino as a reference in his 1999 guitar neck patent. You can view the full 1938 Carmelo Gugino Stringed Musical Instrument patent here
1930s Gugino Catalog
Here's some photos of a 4 page Gugino Catalog from the 1930s. I have been unable to learn anything about the local Buffalo, New York guitarists pictured but was amazed at all the details, options, and instruments mentioned and pictured within.
Carmelo Gugino passed away in December of 1946 but he lived his life as a true modern-day Renaissance Man. In addition to being an innovative luthier, he was a craftsman, an inventer, and even dabbled in poetry.
Sources: Frank Gugino, Sr., The Blue Book, and Scott Freilich (owner of Top Shelf Music in Buffalo).
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