Ray Whitley Recording King ca 1940
Ray Whitley Recording King Model 1028 ca 1940 | $9700 | The snappy, and rare, Ray Whitley Model 1028 was produced by Gibson in Kalamazoo for the Montgomery Ward catalog as part of their Recording King line of guitars. It's well known that beginning in the early 30s, Gibson, to survive the depression, made a series of 'off-brand' guitars in Kalamazoo but without the Gibson name. These guitars reflect needed money-saving shortcuts such as no truss rod and ladder bracing. The RW Model 1028, and the rosewood version, the Model 1027, were produced at the end of this budget brand trend and, but for the lack of the truss rod, go head-to-head with the best Gibson had to offer. Comparatively, the Model 1028 is either a plain J-55 or a fancy J-35, since it lacks the J-55 bridge (although some RWs had them) but has the J-55 pick guard!
The jumbo body is mahogany stained dark, with a sunburst, X-braced spruce top, bound both top and back. The neck is mahogany, with a rosewood fingerboard also bound in white celluloid. The head stock has the pointy 'light bulb' shape, found on the KG14s in this era, and is overlaid with rosewood. An abalone rectangle in inlaid with the name 'Recording King' in black paint script, and below it, Whitely's signature in white paint script, finished off with a white crown at the top. The tuners are the always desirable Kluson with the semi-opaque buttons.
Overall, the guitar sparkles. Kluson tuners are original with one replaced button. The rosewood bridge retains its original finish. Recently, the neck was re-set, the fb refretted, and a pick guard crack glued and cleated. A strap button was installed at some point. The original strap hook on the back of the head stock is missing, but its companion piece at the end pin is intact. Additionally, the back and neck were resprayed because a prior owner had begun to scrape finish off of these areas. The work is neat, clean, and appropriately executed .. in fact, if it weren't pointed out, it would be difficult to discern.
The guitar measures 16 1/8" at the lower bout, and the scale length is 24 3/4". The fingerboard measures 1 3/4" at the nut.
This guitar is aesthetically pleasing, but it's not just a looker. Its sound is exceptional, which makes it inspiring to play. It has the Gibson jumbo power, but it's refined and controlled, with resonant midrange tones, and ringing treble. It's a wonderful singer/songwriter instrument, but effective as a fingerpicking blues guitar or flat picker as well.
Comes with a newer hard case.