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Author Archives: George Gruhn

The 1912 Martin 000-28

The 1912 Martin
 
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      By 1912, players of fretted instruments were familiar with steel strings. Mandolins, which were enjoying their period of greatest popularity, were strung with steel. Guitars made by Gibson and by the Larson Brothers were strung with steel. The tenor banjo had recently arrived on the scene, having been introduced by J.B. Schall […]

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Gibson Super 400 PN

 
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The Gibson Super 400 Premiere cutaway acoustic first appeared in Gibson literature in the 1940 catalog, on a page showing it and the L-5 Premiere in clear “natural” finish. The photo shows the Super 400 PN held by George Smith (described as “Paramount staff guitarist”) and the L-5PN held by Eddie Skrivanek (“radio and studio […]

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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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The National Silvo Electric Hawaiian

 
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One of the most innovative companies of the pre-World-War-II era, National found out quickly that innovation was a double-edged sword. Just as their resonator guitars of the late 1920s made the acoustic Hawaiian guitars of Hermann Weissenborn obsolete, electric guitars of the mid 1930s – some of them made of National’s own making – threatened […]

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Gibson Style J Mando-bass

 
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Decades before Audiovox or Leo Fender dreamed of making a fretted electric bass, Gibson started manufacturing fretted acoustic mando-basses that were tuned the same as an upright bass. Joe Spann, author of Spann’s Guide to Gibson 1902-1941 has assembled serial and work-order number information documenting Gibson’s production prior to World War II, which indicates mando-bass […]

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Martin’s “12-Fret” 000-42

 
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Martin has never been a stranger to producing certain guitars in very limited quantities. But just how rare is the 12-frets-to-the-body 000-42? It has long been held that Martin has done a yeoman’s job of tracking its production through the years (few manufacturers have been so meticulous, especially going back so far), but it has […]

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1942 Martin D-45

 
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The Martin D-45, offered by the company from 1933 through 1942, is well-known as the Holy Grail of acoustic guitars. While players and collectors may argue whether it is the absolute best guitar ever made, in terms of value, it easily outdistances any other acoustic model in the vintage market. Ironically, the D-45 was not […]

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Fender’s “First-Gen” Strat

 
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The Fender Stratocaster is arguably the most popular electric guitar model in the world. From the time of its introduction in 1954, no other electric has outsold its archetypical design. And unlike its fellow archetype, the Gibson Les Paul and its numerous variants including the Junior, Special, Standard, and Custom, the Stratocaster was always been […]

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1965 Epiphone Emperor

 

1965 Epiphone Emperor, serial number 347083. Photo courtesy of George Gruhn. The Epiphone Emperor has a long, convoluted history. It first appeared in Epiphone’s catalog in late 1935 as a response to Gibson’s Super 400, which was introduced in late 1934. Epiphone went one better on Gibson’s 18″-wide Super 400 by making the Emperor 181?2″ […]

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Martin Style 000-28K

 

Martin Style OOO-28K. Photo: Kelsey Vaughn, courtesy of Gruhn Guitars. During the 1920s and ’30s, Martin made a considerable number of guitars with bodies constructed of Hawaiian Koa wood. The Hawaiian music craze was in full swing and the demand was strong for ukuleles and Hawaiian-style guitars played with a steel bar, as well as […]

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