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Author Archives: George Gruhn

1934 Gibson F-7

 
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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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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 (more…)

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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 (more…)

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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 (more…)

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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 (more…)

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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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