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NMM 13574.  Hollow body electric guitar by Vivi-Tone Company, Detroit, Michigan, ca. 1936-1939.
Serial number 623. Tony and Bonnie Vinatieri Acquisitions Fund, 2008.

Front of Vivi Tone electric guitar Bass side of guitar Treble side of guitar Back of guitar

Click on any image on this page to see a larger image.

In 1936, Lloyd Loar ceased to work for the Vivi-Tone Company and began a consulting relationship with Holton, for whom he began development of the Electronic Harpsichord in that year. Vivi-Tone continued operations, but moved from Kalamazoo to Detroit. During that same year, they advertised a new Acousti-Lectric bridge, much simpler in design and construction than the company's previous, built-in pickups. The unit could also be purchased separately to electrify a customer's existing acoustic instrument. While the company implied in its advertising that the bridge was patented, the claim was false, and presumably the patent application was abandoned or never submitted. This Vivi-Tone guitar is one of the latest numbered instruments currently known, a "Hi Fret Guitar" of the type developed during Loar's tenure at the company.

Inscriptions:  Printed on paper label, the instrument and serial number written in pencil: VIVI-TONE Guitar / No. 623 / Manufactured under one or more of / the following patents: / 1,992,317 2,025,875 / 1,995,316 2,046,331 / 1,995,317 2,046,332 / 2,020,842 2,046,333 / 2,020,557 / Manufactured By / THE VIVI TONE COMPANY / 6321 Gratiot Detroit, Mich.

Spray painted in black ink on head, the word "Tone" vertically aligned: VIVI- / TONE

Stamp on tuner plates: GROVER

Stamp on end of tailpiece: GROVER / PAT.APPL’D FOR [sic]


Front and Back Views of Body

Note: Click on major structural features on body to see larger views

Pick guard
Back of body

Bottom of guitar

Soundboard:  two-piece spruce: medium grain.

Back: two-piece spruce: medium grain broadening toward the flanks; slightly arched; two f-holes; recessed 11 mm from edge of ribs.

Ribs: 6-ply maple plywood with fibrous veneer on inside and outside.

Bridge: maple with mahogany veneer on each face, hollowed to contain coils and magnet, the vibrations transferred to pickup through nickel-plated brass, height-adjustable saddle.

Tailpiece: nickel-plated, trapeze style, the string holder with ridged surface, screwed to lower rib with three nickel-plated steel, dome-headed screws.

Endpin: white plastic; extends through tailpiece.

Soundholes: two holes on top; two f-holes on back.

Pick guard: imitation tortoise-shell plastic raised on wood brace affixed to top with two steel, dome-headed screws.

Lacquer: dark orange-brown sunburst.

Views of Peghead

Front of peghead Bass side of peghead Treble side of peghead Back of peghead

Head: mahogany with mahogany center stripe, veneered with white celluloid on front face; integral with neck.

Pegs: six nickel-plated steel, worm-gear machine tuners by Grover with convex head surfaces and decoratively cut plate outline.

Views of Neck and Neck Heel

Fretboard Neck heel Back of neck

Neck: mahogany with mahogany center stripe; integral with head.

Fingerboard: suspended over top; ebony bound in white celluloid; 20 nickel-silver high frets; single abalone dots behind 5th, 7th, 9th, and 15th frets; double mother-of-pearl dots behind 12th fret.

Nut: ebony.

Heel cap: white celluloid.

Binding: white celluloid.

Acousti-Lectric Bridge

Guitar with electric cord
Pick up connection


Pick-up Connection at Bridge

Pickup: Strings rest on saddle, through which the vibrations are transferred to a bar-armature. The bar armature is mounted so that it is suspended slightly above two rods extending from the ends of a strong bar magnet, probably ALNICO. Each pole piece is enclosed in a coil.



Total guitar length:  985 mm (38-25/32″)
Back length (including ribs):  464 mm (18-1/4″)
Upper bout width:  246 mm (9-11/16″)
Waist width:  198 mm (7-13/16″)
Lower bout width:  331 mm (13″)
Rib height (including edging) at heel:  91 mm (3-9/16″)
Rib height, at waist:  93 mm (3-32/32″)
Rib height, at end block:  93 mm (3-21/32″)
Head length:  180 mm (7-1/16″)
Head width, top:  69 mm (2-23/32″)
Head width, bottom:  65 mm (2-9/26″)
Neck length (nut to ribs):  341 mm (13-11/32″)
Neck width, nut:  45 mm (1-3/4″)
Neck width, heel:  57 mm (2-1/4″)
Soundhole diameter:  37 mm (1-7/16″)
Distance between soundholes:  19 mm (3/4″)
Vibrating string length (nut to bridge edge):  high E: 622 mm (24-1/2″);
low E: 626 mm (24-5/8″)

Return to Checklist of Instruments Designed by Lloyd Loar

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Fretboard Pick guard Bridge Tailpiece Pick guard Neck heel F Holes End button Bridge Pick guard