Many thanks to the 140 or so people who have registered their John C. Haynes guitars.

If you have a Haynes Bay State, Hub, Excelsior or Tilton guitar, and you haven't already done so, please email us info@vintageguitarwall.com the serial numbers on top of the headstock. This helps us further accurately date these guitars.

The photos and information you provide continue to provide valuable insight into the company and how they made and distributed their instruments. Your information will not be passed onto any 3rd party.

Many thanks to Charles Robinson (Brisbane, Australia), for his tireless efforts compiling all of this valuable history of the original Bay State and John C. Haynes Company. None of this would be available today without his effort. .Sylvan Wells, owner of Bay State Guitars.

Since starting this project a few years ago here are some of our findings:


We have recently received a previously unseen 1883-1884 Haynes catalog from a Bay State owner that changes the dating that we have been using on the serial numbers of these instruments.

All information points to The John C. Haynes Company forming in 1865 (and was a part of the Oliver Ditson Company). Because of some references in John Haynes literature we had assumed that the production of The Haynes guitars of Tilton's, Excelsior, Bay State and Hub, commenced at that date (1865) also.

The very comprehensive 1883 Haynes catalog does not support this assumption. There are many products for sale by the Haynes Company in this 1883 catalog, from piano stools to many different band instruments. However while it does show Tilton and Excelsior guitars it makes no mention of Bay State or Hub instruments.

1883 Catalog CoverAfter further research with old newspapers from the Library of Congress database, and the Music Trade Reviews, we could find no reference to Bay State guitars before 1888. The earliest reference we could find to Bay State Guitars is in an advertisement in the Oct 31 issue of the 1888 Washington Evening Star. There are many advertisements for Bay State Guitars after this date in different publications, including the Music Trade Review.

There are earlier advertisements for Haynes Tilton guitars, and some of these guitars that have been registered with us have a patent date of 1865. This could well mean that Haynes made Tilton guitars from when The Haynes Company commenced business in 1865.

We are now almost certain that the John C. Haynes Company did not start producing Bay State and Hub guitars until after 1883 and most likely started production about 1887-1888. This then changes the dating of the serial numbers of these instruments. It also makes us believe that the Haynes Tilton Guitars are on a different serial number sequence than the Bay state/Hub instruments. This is consistent with the serial numbers we have for 6 Haynes Tilton guitars, which are all low numbers under 7,000. We are not sure at this stage how this affects the serial numbers of Excelsior guitars.

As a rough guide we have made a guesstimate of the dating of serial numbers of Bay State and Hub guitars (we believe these are in the same numbering sequence). 

1887- 1890 Serial Numbers 0 - 2,000

1891 - 1895 Serial Numbers 2,001 - 16,000

1896 - 1900 Serial Numbers 16,001 - 28,000

1901 - 1904 Serial Numbers 28,001 - 31,000

This is based on:

  • Production starting about 1887-88
  • Production ceasing in 1903-04 (well documented)
  • Production in the first few years being less than the average of the whole production of around 31,000 instruments over approximately 15 years
  • Production during 1890-1899 to be at the factories peak, although possibly falling off towards 1900 as factories such as Lyon and Healy start producing large numbers of instruments
  • Production from 1900 to 1904 declining until eventually Haynes and The Oliver Ditson Company cease production and become an agent for Lyon and Healy instruments.

(As more guitars are registered we hope to be able to more accurately date the serial numbers of these guitars – please email us (info@vintageguitarwall.com) if you have not already registered your Bay State – every bit of information helps).

(Just to confuse matters one Bay State guitar has been registered without a serial number or Style number on top of the headstock. Another has been registered with a Style number but no serial number.)


Almost all Haynes made guitars have a headstock logo either impressed into the wood or, as is the case with later instruments, a decal.


The simple Bay State imprint in A was used on the first 2,500 or so Bay States. The more iconic Bay State font of B was then used for most of the production, only changing to the gold decal of C in the final few years.

There always seems to be an exception, and one early Style E guitar (serial number just over 1,000) has no branding on the back of the headstock, but instead has a wooden disc glued on the inside of the guitar with the early style A ‘Bay State’ imprint (see 3 photos below).

Early Headstock Style E150513-220607-1150513-213658

Another early Style E has been registered by the owner that has the University of Michigan stamped on the back of the headstock and a lyre stamped on the front. This lyre was also used by the John. C. Haynes Company as a logo on their instrument string packets.


Hub and Excelsior Guitars have their own stamping, and the Haynes Tilton Guitars are stamped with the John. C. Haynes, Boston name. This stamp has also been used on another ‘Style 1’ guitar but it is not a Tilton design. It is a bit of a mystery at present as it is not mentioned in any of the catalogs we have.

3 Labels


John C. Haynes Guitars

Style E
Page showing Style E from the Haynes c.1895 catalog. (different guitar sizes
have different style numbers)

While all Bay State guitars we have seen have spruce soundboards, as far as we know only 3 different woods were used for the back and sides, maple, mahogany and Brazilian rosewood (this is not the case with ‘Hub’ guitars, see below).

Below are the major Styles listed, (in brackets are the variations of that style; 2/3, Standard, Concert, Large Concert and in some cases Extra Large Concert):

Bay State Style 9

Maple back and sides with a stylized ‘faux’ rosewood finish (as opposed to a realistic looking grain). Styles: 8, 9, 10, and 11.(22 Registered)

Bay-State-Style-9-front - Copy

Bay States ‘budget’ guitar. Very simple decoration with just one ring of ornamental inlaying (rosette) around the soundhole and none on the edges. From the numbers registered this was the 2nd most popular style sold by Haynes. Once restored these are a beautifully sounding small guitar.

Original faux rosewood finish over maple - CopyDSC_0391
Style 9 photos courtesy owner.

Bay State Style Z

Styles: Z 2/3 Z, Z I, Z II (12 Registered).

Except for the Brazilian rosewood back and sides this is exactly like the Style 9. In fact there was only a few dollars difference in the purchase price between the 2 styles in the 1890’s. This style was described as ‘half polished’ or ‘dead finish’ as opposed to the ‘full French polish’ with most of the other models. This example is an early Style Z with the plain font ‘Bay State’ impressed into the back of the headstock, only used for the first 2,500 or so instruments.

22-1-2 - CopyDSC_0336 - CopyDouble
Style Z photos courtesy the owner.

Bay State Style E

Brazilian Rosewood back and sides, most popular Bay State Style registered. Styles: W, E, E I, E II, and E III. (31 Registered)

“Rosewood, two rings of ornamental inlaying around sound hole, fancy inlaid stripe down back, mahogany neck, convex Rosewood fingerboard, elegantly French polished.”

sideways flipped
Drawing from Haynes c.1895 Catalog.

The most popular Bay State style registered, accounts for almost ¼ of all Bay State labeled guitars. Classic look made with Brazilian rosewood and simple decoration.

Bay State Style H

Styles: H 2/3, H, H I, H II, H III (7 Registered). Rosewood Back and Sides. As the models get a bit fancier, more decoration is added. As well as having the 2 rings of ornamental inlay around the sound hole, and the inlaid strip down the back, this model also has some wood binding on the top edge.

Bay State Parlor 21835 1890s - CopyBay State Parlor 21835 back - Copy55
Style H Photos courtesy of owner.

This registered guitar is a great example of a Style H. Well preserved with its original late 1890’s label and a clear imprinted Bay State logo.

Bay State Style F

( F 2/3, F, F I, F II, F III ) (4 Registered)

“Rosewood, very rich wood inlaying around sound hole and top edge. Decorative inlaid stripe down the back and across side under end pin, Mahogany neck, convex rosewood fingerboard, finelyy French Polished”. (Description from late 1890’s Kohler & Chase catalog).

Bay State Style K

( K 2/3, K, K I, K II, K III ) (3 Registered)

“Rosewood, 3 rings of ornamental inlaying around sound hole, back and front edges richly inlaid. Fancy inlaid stripe down the back and across side under end pin, Mahogany neck, convex ebony fingerboard, elegantly French Polished”. (Description from c.1895 Haynes catalog).

Bay State Style 201

( 200, 201, 202, 203, 204 ) (7 Registered)

“Rosewood, 3 rings of ornamental inlaying around sound hole, edge of top inlaid. Fancy inlaid stripe down the back and across side under end pin. Top and back corners inlaid with Cellaloid. Mahogany neck, convex ebony fingerboard and pearl position dots, elegantly French Polished”. (Description from c.1895 Haynes catalog).

Bay State Style 206:

Styles: 205, 206, 207, 208, and 209. (5 Registered)

Rosewood back and sides. Elegant inlay around soundhole and front edge. Rich inlaid stripe down back and across side under end pin. Top and back corners inlaid with celluloid. Ivory nut and bridge saddle.

This example is an Extra Large Concert size Style 209. Very rare indeed!

Style 209 Photos Courtesy of ebay seller

Bay State Style 211

Styles: 210, 211, 212, 213, 214. (1 Registered)

The most expensive and heavily decorated 6 string Bay State guitars. Similar to the Style 206 (above) however
ivory was used instead of celluloid around the top and back edges. Also there was a bit more inlayed work in the ebony fretboard.

Style 211 Photos courtesy the lucky owner.

Bay State Style 215

(1 Registered)

Contra Bass with 9 strings. It was available in 2 styles, Mahogany (Style 215) and Rosewood back and sides (Style 216). The example registered is a special Style 215 with ‘Bay State’ inlayed into the narrower fretboard with mother of pearl shell. It was possibly an exhibition or store model.

BayStateHarpGuitar#215 - CopyBayStateNeck - CopyBayStateBack - Copy
Contra Bass Style 215 photos courtesy owner, Bob Scammell.

Bay State Mahogany Styles

Style R (Same as Style E but with mahogany back and sides) (1 Registered)

Style S (Same as Style H but with mahogany back and sides) (1 Registered)

Style O (Same as Style F but with mahogany back and sides)

Style L (Same as Style G but with mahogany back and sides) (1 Registered)

Bay State Other Styles

Owners have also contacted us with Bay State styles that do not appear in any of the catalogs we have:


A (6 Registered),
A3 (2 Registered),
B (4 Registered,
C (3 Registered),
C3 (2 Registered),
D (1 Registered with no serial Number?)
G (1 Registered). (Total 19 Registered).

Most likely there are other guitars in these ranges.

Some styles were in production for the life of the company, such as Styles 9 and E. Some were discontinued and newer styles added later. The earliest recorded Bay State guitar that we have recorded is a Style A (makes sense starting at the beginning of the alphabet) with a serial number under 100. This style seems to have been discontinued early, but the Style A was used much later on a different looking guitar.

As well as the Bay State label, the John C. Haynes Company made guitars under 3 under labels:

HUB Student Guitars

Back & sides construction in brackets. 6 Guitars Registered.


7 (Maple),
16 and 16 ½ (Sycamore),
17 ½ and 17 ¾ (Oak),
18 and 18 ½ (Mahogany),
and 19 and 19 ½ (Rosewood).

These appear to have started production at the same time as the Bay State label, and because of the wide spread of serial number it looks as if they are in the same serial numbering sequence as Bay States.


Haynes ‘Highest Grade’ Guitar, primarily made from rosewood but some were produced in mahogany.

9 Guitars Registered

Styles: 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 105, 107, 109, 111, 112, 113 and 114.

The lowest Excelsior serial number we have on record is between 100 and 200, the highest number is just under 20,000. We are unsure but suspect they are in the same serial numbering sequence as Bay State and Hub guitars. We need more examples to be sure.

Body bHeadstock b

Early Style Excelsior 101; Photos courtesy owner S. McClure


Tilton ‘Improvement’ Guitars were made from 1856 and were an innovative design with a tailpiece and floating bridge with an internal reinforcement bar that runs the length of the instrument's body under, but not connected to, the top. This construction allowed for the top to be very lightly braced. These guitars employed other distinctive features and were very successful during their day. They are still held in great regard today because of their design and fine craftsmanship and are rare to find in their original condition.

Full Body

The John C. Haynes Company made these Guitars under license from the patent owner commencing sometime after 1865 (before this they were made by another company). Certainly they appear in the 1883-84 Haynes catalog as does the Excelsior Guitars. Of the 11 Haynes’s Tiltons we have registered all of their serial numbers are under 20,000. Because production on these instruments began before the Bay State label, we are almost certain that their serial numbers are on a different sequence to the Bay State guitars. They very well could be in the same sequence as Haynes’s Excelsior guitars.

(11 Guitars Registered)

Styles: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Photos Style #1 courtesy of Retrofret Vintage Guitars, by George Aslaender

Bay State Guitars Research Project

Charles Robinson (Brisbane, Australia) email: info@vintageguitarwall.com
Sylvan Wells (Bay State Guitars, Ormond Beach, Florida)


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