Ted McCarty

Gibson Les Paul Goldtop

When Ted McCarty left his job with Wurlitzer in 1948, he was being aggressively courted by headhunters for the Brach’s candy company as an accountant. An agreeable offer was eventually made but couldn’t be finalized until Mr. Brach himself came back from vacation in the Bahamas. During this wait Ted was approached by a friend to check out the possibility of turning around a guitar company in Kalamazoo, MI that was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. He accepted and started working for Gibson in 1949.


As head designer, General Manager and then President of Gibson guitars, Ted McCarty and Gibson developed the Byrdland, Firebird, SG, Explorer, Flying V, ES-175. Two designs primary of Ted’s – the ES-335 and the Les Paul. Les himself had nothing to do with the guitar’s design, other than suggesting a wrap-around tailpiece instead of the trapeze. He left Gibson in 1966. And thus the era now known as the ‘Golden Age’ of American guitar building ended.


Brach’s would go on to develop Candy Corn.


Ted McCarty never learned to play the guitar! An often forgotten fact and something shared with Leo Fender. He would later advice Paul Reed Smith and had a profound impact on PRS guitar.


He died in 2001, at the age of 91. Ted’s legacy lives on both though PRS and Gibson guitars

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