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Author Archives: George Gruhn

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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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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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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Collection of Jonathan Kellerman

 
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Talent for mysteries, passion for guitars, best-selling Novelist Jonathan Kellerman is a lifelong lover of the guitar. A player for 46 years, to him, the guitar is not only a device for release and inspiration, but a true passion. • “After I finish writing, the first place I head is the guitar room, for an […]

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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 typical Martin of that time, but only […]

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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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Gibson Super Jumbo 100

 
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The Super Jumbo 200 is Gibson’s most celebrated flat-top model, and deservedly so, thanks to its use by cowboy movie stars in the pre-World War II years and by country music stars in the post-war years. The Super Jumbo 100, on the other hand, is one of Gibson’s more obscure models – a status it […]

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1949 Bigsby Tenor

 
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1949 Bigsby Tenor. Photo: Kelsey Vaughn, courtesy George Gruhn. By the advent of the solidbody electric guitar in the 1950s, tenor guitarists were a dying breed. Consequently, electric tenors are relatively rare, and a tenor guitar made by solidbody pioneer Paul Bigsby is one of the rarest of all electric guitars. And if that’s not […]

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Gretsch 6120 Tenor

Elvis Costello’s Gretsch 6120 Tenor
 
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This 1958 Gretsch Chet Atkins 6120 four-string tenor guitar is a very rare variation of the model. Gretsch built other tenors, including the Duo Jet, archtop acoustic, and archtop electric tenors of various other models. Gretsch was not alone in making tenors. Martin, Gibson, and Epiphone all produced tenor versions of many of their standard […]

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Gretsch 6134 White Penguin

 
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1958 Gretsch 6134 White Penguin, serial number 26389. Photo courtesy Gruhn Guitars. There’s no doubt the White Penguin is one of the rarest Gretsch instruments. It is estimated that no more than a few dozen were made from the introduction of the model in 1955 through 1964, when it was discontinued, though exact production totals […]

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