RK History


Recording King acoustic guitars and banjos originated during what many consider to be the golden age of musical instruments.  These instruments were built by Gibson for Montgomery Ward, one of the oldest and largest retailers in the USA.  The careful craftsmanship and rich sound of instruments designed during this era make them some of the most respected and sought-after fretted acoustic instruments available.

During the 1930’s, Recording King instruments were built by some of the finest builders in the business. Montgomery Ward made Recording King one of the most popular brands of the day by providing players of all walks of life with high value instruments at affordable prices. The popularity of these instruments was magnified by the Montgomery Ward mail-order catalog “Wish Book,” where all of America had the freedom to have professional quality products delivered to their door at value prices. Recording King built signature models for the top entertainers of the day, Nick Lucas, Ray Whitley, Carson Robison and Roy Smeck. Although it was known as a brand of the people, Recording King also earned a name as the brand of the stars.

In 2006, Recording King Guitars were re-introduced to the market, led by former Gibson custom shop designer Greg Rich and product development master Travis Atz.  The new Recording King team set forth with the objective to not only create guitars with a nod to Recording King’s history, but also to utilize building techniques and technologies developed in the 80 plus years since the brand was first introduced.

One such technology Recording King started using in 2014 is Torrefaction.  Torrefaction is a specialized heating process used on Adirondack Spruce tops in which the wood is heated at a low temperature in an oxygen-free environment.  The end result is a lightweight, extra resonant top that produces similar tone to a vintage instrument that has been played for years.  Recording King currently has three models available with Torrefied Adirondack Spruce tops: the RD-T16 dreadnought, the RO-T16 000, and RP1-16C which was designed in partnership with world famous guitar historian Eric Schoenberg.

The current Recording King lineup of instruments reflects the ethos of their 1930 counterparts – high quality, high value instruments that are accessible by the masses and used on stage by some the finest performers of the day.  Current Recording King artists include Justin Townes Earle, Christian Letts (Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros), Iain Matthews (Fairport Convention), Mark Spencer (Son Volt) and Will Kimbrough (Jimmy Buffet).


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