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Author Archives: George Gruhn

Orville Gibson A model

 
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All carved-top guitars and mandolins trace their ancestry back to Orville Gibson of Kalamazoo, Michigan. However, as this A model mandolin illustrates, Orville’s designs went through considerable refinement through the early years of the Gibson company’s existence to reach the standard of design that we know today. The highlights of Orville’s life are well-known: Born […]

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1944 Martin 00-28

 
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This Martin 00-28 is a highly unusual instrument. Made as part of a group of six created with shop-order number 366 (dated 12/14/1944) and bearing serial numbers 90002 through 90007, they were entered on the Martin shop order slip as 00-28G, indicating they were classical guitars designed strictly for gut strings. There is no indication […]

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The D’Angelico Excel Mandolin

 
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The 1,164 archtop guitars made by John D’Angelico have brought him great renown as the finest individual archtop guitar builder in the history of the instrument. His mandolins, however, are seldom talked about, even though – if this particular example from the early 1940s is any indication – they are worthy of the same attention. […]

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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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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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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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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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