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Author Archives: George Gruhn

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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Ecco-Fonic

 
Ecco-Fonic

John Adomono was an American guitar hero of the Cold War years. JFK named him his favorite guitarist, and Adomono played a command performance at the White House. He performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” jammed with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, and Martin Denny. And at the dawn of the Space Race, […]

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Martin 5-18

 
Martin 5-18

The Martin style 5-18 is the smallest guitar in Martin catalogs; at the lower bout, it measures 11.25″, while at the upper bout it is 8.25″. And its body is just 16″ in length, with a scale of 21.4″. In 1930s catalogs, the style 5-18 and the less expensive matching size 5-17 were listed with […]

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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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Gibson Style R Harp Guitar

 
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Harp guitars with a standard six-string guitar neck and varying numbers of sub-bass harp-style strings have been made by a variety of American builders. Some of the best-known include Gibson, Joseph Bohmann (of Chicago), Knutson (Seattle), and the Larson brothers (Chicago), who made them primarily under the brand of Dyer (a distributor based in St. […]

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1934 Gibson F-7

 
GIBSON F-7 1934

Prior to Gibson’s innovations, mandolins were bowl-back instruments with a lute-like back usually constructed with rosewood or maple back ribs and a bent spruce top with an oval sound hole. Earlier guitars typically had flat tops and backs, and were designed for gut strings. In 1898, he received a patent for the concept of (more…)

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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 (more…)

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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 (more…)

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Martin Elegant, a.k.a. “Lula”

 
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It’s an extraordinarily rare event to find a high-grade, historically significant mid-1800s guitar in a pawn shop, but that is indeed where this Martin was discovered. When found in Nashville in the mid 1970s, it was recognized as an exceptional instrument with ornamentation far in excess of any (more…)

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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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