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Author Archives: George Gruhn

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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The Epiphone Excellente

 
The Epiphone Excellente

When Gibson acquired Epiphone in 1957, the plan was to introduce a new line of Epis that would be made in the Gibson factory but designed to be slightly less expensive than the equivalent Gibson model. It worked out that way in the electric line of the 1960s, where the more expensive Epis had mini-humbuckers […]

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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

 
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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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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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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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1933 Gibson L-5 “Special”

 
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Though many collectors focus on instruments in fine original condition, every so often one emerges that, regardless of condition, is no less exciting than a paleontologist finding the “missing link.” Everything there is to know about the Gibson L-5 designed by Carl Kress can be learned from this example, with the model designation “Special” hand-written […]

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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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