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Author Archives: George Gruhn

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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Vintage Instruments and the Ban on Ivory Trade

 
Vintage Instruments and the Ban on Ivory Trade

A presidential executive order issued February 11 proposes a wide ban on trade in ivory has widespread implications for trade in vintage musical instruments as well as antique art, furniture, firearms, swords, knives, and jewelry. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has been tasked with writing and enforcing new regulations for import, export, and domestic trade […]

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’53 Gibson Les Paul Junior

 
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Gibson’s records tell us the Les Paul Junior was introduced in 1954. But here we have what appears to be a 1953 example. This instrument has no serial number on the back of the peghead, though the tone and volume pot codes indicate they were made in 1953, and the guitar differs in specifications from […]

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Rosewood Dobro

 
Rosewood Dobro

In the 1930s, the original Dobro company went through a series of ownership changes and licensing agreements. It did not regularly publish catalogs, and its model numbers were typically also the price of a model, which may have varied from one distributor to the next. Specifications (more…)

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The Martin 000-18HS

 
Martin 000-18HS

According to Martin company records and research by late Martin Historian Mike Longworth, Cable Piano Company, in Atlanta, special-ordered at least three Martin 000-18HS guitars in 1937. Two others have previously emerged – serial numbers 67197 and 67198 – and this one recently found its way to Nashville for a Martin event featuring company historian […]

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