Elvis' 1970s Gibson Dove Custom
Elvis in Las Vegas with Gibson Dove Custom - August 19,
Photo© courtesy Antonio
On the last night of his July 75 tour in Asheville, NC
Elvis gave away his custom Ebony Gibson Dove guitar that he had used
from 1971 to 1973 and had only recently brought out of
retirement. Beginning in Las Vegas on August 18, 1975 his
new performance guitar was an early to mid '70s Cherry sunburst Gibson
Dove Custom. He performed with this one exclusively on subsequent tours
through April 27, 1976.
1974 Gibson Dove Custom #B002045 - identical to Elvis'
Elvis in concert with Gibson Dove Custom in Johnson City, TN
- March 17, 1976
Photo© courtesy Bert Willemsen
The Dove model was introduced in 1962 becoming Gibson's second from
the top flat top model. Walter Carter of Gibson said that Gibson used "Deluxe," "Custom" and
"Artist" to denote low, mid and high-end models in the 1970s.
To his knowledge there is no difference between a Dove Custom and a Dove
during that period and has never seen any reference in catalogs or
literature to a separate Dove Custom model. It is apparent anyway
that the Dove Custom of the 1970s and '80s at least featured a sleeker shape of the sculptured dove inlaid
bridge than the earlier years, though the original
shape would be reintroduced by the '90s. The '70s also saw the transition from
Rosewood fingerboards and bridges to Ebony.
1970s Gibson Dove Custom label
The guitar is of a square shouldered dreadnought design
and features book matched maple back and sides, solid select fine grain
Spruce top and a 3 piece maple neck with 20 fret Ebony fingerboard with split pearl double parallelogram inlay. The body
size is 20 1/4" in length, 16 1/4" wide and 4 7/8"
deep. It has a 25 1/2" scale length, sculptured Ebony bridge with Dove pearl inlays, an ornate Dove inlaid pickguard
and distinctive truss rod cover. The guitar also featured chrome
Grover made for Gibson keystone tuning keys. The cherry sunburst
was an available finish on this model from 1962 - 1986.
Elvis with in concert Gibson Dove Custom Seattle, WA - April 26, 1976
Photo© courtesy Eter Silvester
Bonhams & Butterfields Entertainment Memorabilia
Catalog #1793 March 16, 2003
Photo© Bonham &
On March 16, 2003 a guitar was auctioned in Los Angeles
& Butterfields that was reputed to be Elvis'. It was
featured on the cover of their catalog and bore the serial number
A004051 which dates it between a '73 and '75. The provenance and
documentation that accompanied it stated that it was "Given by
Presley's aunt Delta Mae Biggs to Don Wilson, 1977." However, the guitar is suspect.
The photo of it on page 34 of the catalog shows the guitar with Grover
Rotomatic tuners and a two screw truss rod cover which would be incorrect for Elvis' guitar. It's quite possible that the tuners were
replaced at some point after Elvis used it but kind of senseless from a functional point to
replace the Grover made Gibsons with Grovers. It makes no sense at
all to replace the truss cover. The guitar
sold for $29,375.00 at auction.
incorrect tuners and truss cover from catalog on left, correct
ones center and right
Click here to
read about repairs to the Dove pictured here identical to Elvis'