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Author Archives: George Gruhn

The Martin 0-42

 
Martin 0-42

Through the years, Martin’s dreadnought, OM, and 000 guitars may have gained the most notoriety. But for the sweetest and best-quality sound, Martin itself recommends the size 0, exemplified by this 0-42. There’s obviously a catch to that statement, since only two of Martin’s current offering of over 200 models are size-0 guitars. The recommendation […]

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The Gibson J-185

 
Gibson J-185

The J-185 is regarded by many players and collectors as the finest-sounding Gibson flat-top made after World War II. The only flat-top of its size and shape made by Gibson in the 1950s, the company offered nothing comparable even in its pre-war catalogs, and though it is in many ways similar to the J-200, it’s […]

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1905 Gibson F-2

 
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In the opinion of most American mandolinists, Gibson brought mandolin design to a level of perfection in 1922, with the introduction of the Master Model F-5. It wasn’t much earlier – 25 years or so – that Orville Gibson created the F model as one of two mandolin body styles (the other being the symmetrical […]

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Three Larsons

 
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At first glance, these three guitars appear to be a straightforward collection of different sizes of the same model. A comparable set of three Martins would be a 0-40, 00-40 and 000-40. However, these are Larson Brothers guitars, and when it comes to Larson models, nothing is that simple. Aesthetically, these guitars are identical (more…)

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National N-275

 
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Gibson is widely known for its guitars, mandolins, and banjos, but many are unaware the company built instruments for nearly 30 brands for several distributors and music store chains, primarily from the 1920s through the early ’40s. Some of the best-known names include Kalamazoo, distributed by Gibson, and Recording King, which was distributed by Montgomery […]

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1985 Guild Nightbird Prototype

 
1985 Guild Nightbird Prototype Home Main Big

In early 1984, Mark Dronge, son of the Guild founder Alfred Dronge, was president of Guild. That year, Mark and I struck a deal to design six acoustic Guild guitars in two different body sizes. These were introduced at the 1984 summer National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show in Chicago. Reaction to the acoustics […]

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Gibson Johnny Smith

 
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In 1961, Gibson’s Johnny Smith model not only associated Gibson with one of the most popular guitar stylists of the day, it also brought high-quality amplification and high-quality acoustic sound together for the first time. From Gibson’s first electric “Spanish” guitar, the ES-150 of 1936, Gibson had fashioned an electric guitar by cutting a hole […]

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Dan Fogelberg’s Gretsch White Penguin

 
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Dan Fogelberg’s success as a singer and songwriter far overshadows his reputation as a musician, but the man whose tenor voice and sentimental songs ruled the Adult Contemporary charts in the early 1980s was actually quite an accomplished guitarist. Evidence is on The Innocent Age and Windows and Walls – the albums that yielded his […]

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Martin 0-28K

 
Martin 0-28K

The exotic figuration of Hawaiian koa wood on this Martin 0-28K from 1923 has a visual appeal that matched the exotic sound of Hawaiian music in the 1920s, and koa guitars accounted for a significant part of Martin’s sales through that period. Koa guitars played a larger role in Martin history, introducing steel strings to […]

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L-5 to Super 400

The Story of Gibson’s Big Archtops
 
L-5 to Super 400

The archtop guitar is a uniquely American instrument which can be traced directly to the creative genius of one person – Orville Gibson. In the mid 1890s, the man who later formed the company started building guitars and mandolins with carved tops and backs, and though his creations were quite different from a modern jazz […]

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