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Category Archives: Classic Instruments

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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Buddy Holly’s ’58 Magnatone 280

1958 Magnatone Custom 280
 
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When guitarists talk tremolo or vibrato, you can bet the magnificent Magnatone amps will find their way into the conversation. The watery, warbling “true vibrato” that the larger Magnatones are capable of producing is never forgotten by players fortunate enough to have experienced it. In searching to expand the Magnatone legend, the subject is likely […]

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Custom Color Stratocasters

 
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The Stratocaster was born in 1954. A solidbody with three pickups, contoured back and top, vibrato, and bolt-on neck, it was different. And it changed the way people looked at, thought of, heard, and played guitar. With the exception of opera and classical music, it has played a considerable role in modern music. Over the […]

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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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Excelsior Americana

 
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If you play any breed of twang, country, roots-rock or, well, “Americana,” could there possibly be a better amp than this? Okay, according to specs and tonal preferences, sure there could. But for sheer vintage-hip and all-out cool, you really can’t do better than dragging this 1966 Excelsior Americana to the next Gram Parsons tribute […]

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Horses of Another Color

 
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1) This ’57, from batch 253xx, has the added intrigue of a gold G-cutout tailpiece in place of the Bigsby vibrato. In addition to the standard Amber Red stain on the 6120, the Bigsby was requisite on the Atkins-endorsed models. Having a 6120 that lacks both the finish and the vibrato seem to constitute heresy! […]

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The Yosco No. 2

Tenor Banjo
 
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The banjo and American music cross paths in a remarkably entangled web of complexity. The banjo was brought to the New World – conceptually, at least – by African slaves who used it to create music subsequently appropriated by 19th-century white entertainers, who created blackface minstrelsy, which became the basis of Vaudeville and a great […]

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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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Basses from Bakersfield

 
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The history of guitar manufacturing in the Bakersfield area of California includes names like Mosrite, Hallmark, and Standel. One of the most unusual (and rare) was the Gruggett Stradette. Guitar builder and company founder Bill Gruggett had affiliations with Mosrite and Hallmark before setting out on his own in 1967. He designed the Stradette to […]

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Peavey RJ-IV

 
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Peavey RJ-IV bass, serial number 04938996. Photo: Bill Ingalls Jr. Instrument courtesy of Naffaz Skota. Americans by the millions “know” Randy Jackson. But not many realize that his gig as one of three judges on TV’s “American Idol” is just the tip of the iceberg in his long musical career. The veteran bassist has played […]

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