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The Artistry of the Guitar - Day 1

Wednesday, April 02, 2014  |  7:00 PM Eastern
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Nearly three hundred instruments historic Martin, Gibson, Epiphone, Gretsch, Washburn, Stromberg and Larson Brothers guitars. Bid on items created by such talented craftsmen as Torres, D'Angelico, etc

Guernsey's Auction


212-794-2280
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All Items| Closed Items Displaying 1 - 25 of 136
1928 Gibson Nick Lucas Special

1928 Gibson Nick Lucas Special

Lot # 1 (Sale Order: 1 of 136)      

Most collectors only want guitars in original condition with few, if any, modifications, but this particular guitar may be one of the few examples where collectors would make an exception. In addition to being a very early 1928 Gibson Nick Lucas Special with an uncommon gloss black finish and ebony fretboard like Lucas specified for several of his personal instruments, this guitar is tastefully decorated with decoupage pinup girls strategically placed all over the guitar’s body and neck. “Nick’s Bordello” replaces “The Gibson” logo that normally would appear on the headstock, referring possibly to its original Nick Lucas namesake or perhaps an obscure house of ill repute in New Orleans, where this guitar allegedly originated. The Nick Lucas model is very collectible in-and-of itself, but the decoupage decorations also make this guitar a fine example of American folk art.

The serial number on this guitar typically would date from 1926, but many early Nick Lucas Special guitars did not conform to Gibson’s serial number system at that time. Lucas played a similar (or possibly the same) guitar with a glossy black finish (sans pinup girls, of course) in the 1929 Warner Bros. film Gold Diggers of Broadway.

Serial number: 83239.
FON: 8989
Top: Spruce, black finish with decoupage decorations.
Back and sides: Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Fretboard: Ebony
Frets: 19
Bridge: Rosewood pyramid pin with slight bottom belly extension
Tuners: Open gear three-on-a-plate with white plastic buttons

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1940 Gibson ES-300

1940 Gibson ES-300

Lot # 2 (Sale Order: 2 of 136)      

NO RESERVE. This 1940 ES-300 is virtually identical to the other example with serial number 96370, although it features the more common nickel-plated metal parts and standard Bakelite control knobs. It also has the standard single-bound tortoiseshell elevated pickguard. The maple back and sides on this guitar have very attractive quilted figuring.

Serial number: 96520.
FON: 1931F 24
Top: Spruce, natural finish
Back and sides: Maple
Neck: Maple with mahogany center strip
Fretboard: Rosewood
Frets: 20
Bridge/tailpiece: Rosewood, nickel-plated trapeze with arrows and diamond motif
Tuners: Nickel-plated Kluson open gear with metal buttons
Other: Large diagonal single-coil pickup, master volume and tone controls

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1919 Gibson L-4

1919 Gibson L-4

Lot # 3 (Sale Order: 3 of 136)      

NO RESERVE. Gibson employee Thaddeus J. McHugh applied for a patent for his adjustable truss rod design on April 5, 1921 (#1,446,758), but this 1919 Gibson L-4 proves that Gibson was experimenting with this feature a few years before seeking a patent. This early example has the truss rod adjustment nut mounted underneath a cover on the headstock, which all these years later remains the preferred location for this feature.

This guitar has a reasonable amount of playing wear and is missing its original elevated pickguard. It allegedly once belonged to J.J. Cale, the celebrated songwriter and guitarist who penned the songs “After Midnight,” “Cocaine,” and “They Call Me the Breeze,” which were covered by artists like Eric Clapton and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Serial number: 49794
Top: Spruce, sunburst finish
Back and sides: Birch
Neck: Mahogany
Fretboard: Ebony
Frets: 20
Bridge/tailpiece: Ebony, pin trapeze
Tuners: Open gear three-on-a-plate Waverly with engraved base plates and white plastic buttons

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1935 Martin 000-28

1935 Martin 000-28

Lot # 4 (Sale Order: 4 of 136)      

Here is a very rare and desirable pre-war Martin 000-28 with a dazzling combination of herringbone and a sunburst finish. It is very similar to the sunburst 1931 OM-28 also in this auction, although it has the shorter 24.9-inch scale length that Martin started using on its 000 models in 1934. Some players prefer the slightly warmer tone and easier playability of these shorter scale 000 guitars, and like most pre-war flattop Martins this guitar sounds incredible. This 1935 000-28 features the 6:1 ratio Grover G-98 tuners that were specifically designed for 14-fret neck Martins with solid headstocks.

Serial number: 59289
Top: Spruce, sunburst finish
Back and sides: Brazilian rosewood
Neck: Mahogany
Fretboard: Ebony
Frets: 20
Bridge: Ebony belly pin
Tuners: Individual 6:1 Grover G-98 open gear with metal butter bean buttons

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1929 Gibson L-5

1929 Gibson L-5

Lot # 5 (Sale Order: 5 of 136)      

Here is an early example of an L-5 with all of the standard late-1929 catalog features, most notably its squared-end, 19-fret fingerboard. Eddie Lang’s Gibson L-5 also had a 19-fret neck and very closely resembles this guitar, except Lang’s L-5 had a pointed-end fretboard. Lang started playing an L-5 in 1929, and his use of the model inspired many other dance orchestra guitarists to follow his lead. This example is also missing the floating pickguard.

Serial number: 89354
Top: Spruce, sunburst finish
Back and sides: Maple
Neck: Maple with walnut center strip
Fretboard: Ebony, Pearloid blocks inlays beginning at 3rd fret
Frets: 19
Bridge/tailpiece: Ebony, gold-plated trapeze
Tuners: Gold-plated open gear Grover G-98 with metal butter bean buttons

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C. 1934 Washburn Style 5238 DeLuxe Grand Concert

C. 1934 Washburn Style 5238 DeLuxe Grand Concert

Lot # 6 (Sale Order: 6 of 136)      

NO RESERVE. Like the 1930 Style 5238 DeLuxe Grand Concert also in this Auction, this 1934 example was made by Regal; unlike the earlier version, however, it reverts to the 19-fret neck and ninth fret inlay seen on Washburn guitars made during the 1920s. This instrument features gold leaf flower-and-vine appliqué on its upper and lower bouts, pearl snowflake fretboard inlays, inlays on the “smile” bridge, three-ring rosette, and single dome headstock. The tuners’ baseplates, however, are not engraved.

Serial number: 1809
Top: Spruce
Back and sides: Rosewood, decal transfer decoration
Neck: Mahogany
Fretboard: Ebony
Frets: 19
Bridge: Ebony “smile” pin
Tuners: Waverly open gear machine with plastic buttons

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1934 Euphonon

1934 Euphonon

Lot # 7 (Sale Order: 7 of 136)      

From 1933 through 1944, brothers Carl and August Larson made guitars that were sold under the Euphonon brand name. Euphonon instruments are not marked with any style numbers or model names, and because so many one-of-a-kind Euphonon guitars have surfaced it’s likely that the Larsons built many of these instruments on an individual basis. Euphonon guitars with five-digit serial numbers like this one are believed to be special order instruments. This guitar also features August Larson’s signature on its interior.

This 1934 Euphonon features a jumbo 16-inch body with figured curly maple back and sides. The top purfling and rosette are abalone, and the headstock is decorated with rhinestones and the Larsons’ signature mother-of-pearl inlay work. Like most other Larson-made guitars, the x-braced top is built under tension with a slight longitudinal arch that improves volume output and sustain.

This guitar appears on page V of the color photo section of Robert Carl Hartman’s book, The Larsons’ Creations.

Serial number: 14421-8
Top: Spruce, natural finish
Back and sides: Maple
Neck: Maple with mahogany center strip
Fretboard: Ebony
Frets: 20
Bridge: Ebony flattened pyramid pin
Tuners: Nickel-plated open-gear machine with engraved strip baseplates and ivoroid buttons

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1907 Gibson Style O

1907 Gibson Style O

Lot # 8 (Sale Order: 8 of 136)      

Gibson’s first guitar model, the Style O, may not be quite as exotic as the hand-carved guitars that Orville Gibson himself was making only a few years earlier, but the basic overall shape, major design features, and look are quite similar. As seen on this example, the size of the body was reduced from 18 to 16 inches, and the oval-shaped soundhole became smaller, as did the peghead, which is more streamlined than the bulky rounded paddle shape found on guitars produced only a few years prior. Interior bracing is also minimal.

This 1907 Style O shows how Gibson quickly transformed from the rather old-fashioned style to a design that more closely resembled the modern archtop and flattop guitars of today within a surprisingly short period of only five years.

Serial number: 7867
FON: 588
Top: Spruce, black finish
Back and sides: Birch
Neck: Mahogany with walnut center strip
Fretboard: Ebonized
Frets: 20
Bridge: Ebony flattened pyramid pin
Tuners: Engraved three-on-a-plate open gear with white plastic buttons

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1946 D’Angelico Excel

1946 D’Angelico Excel

Lot # 9 (Sale Order: 9 of 136)      

John D’Angelico’s record book lists November 16, 1946 as this guitar’s date of manufacture and “Del Castel” as the customer. Completed a little more than a year after the end of World War II, this guitar does not exhibit the usual compromises in material quality often seen in instruments produced shortly after the war. Because D’Angelico was a small shop that produced only limited quantities of instruments, quality was not affected as adversely, if at all, due to the usual stockpiling practices of individual luthiers.

The attention to detail in the engraved headstock inlay and fretboard inlays on this guitar is stunning, as is the figuring in the flamed curly maple used for the neck, back, and sides. The ebony fretboard, gold-plated stairstep trapeze tailpiece, and gold-placed Kluson Sealfast tuners prove that D’Angelico was making no post-war compromises in quality.

Serial number: 1732
Top: Spruce, natural finish
Back and sides: Maple
Neck: Maple
Fretboard: Ebony, block inlays
Frets: 20
Bridge/tailpiece: Ebony, gold-plated D’Angelico stairstep trapeze
Tuners: Kluson Sealfast with keystone buttons

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1953 Epiphone Triumph Regent

1953 Epiphone Triumph Regent

Lot # 10 (Sale Order: 10 of 136)      

NO RESERVE. The Triumph Regent may not be as visually dazzling as its comparably sized counterpart the De Luxe Regent, but it’s still a very handsome guitar with its notched-diamond mother-of-pearl fretboard inlays and understated headstock inlay. With its 17 3/8-inch body featuring a spruce top and maple back and sides, it sounds identical to De Luxe Regent guitars from its era as well. The biggest differences between the Triumph and De Luxe are the Triumph’s nickel-plated hardware compared to the De Luxe’s gold and the less fancy maple, which usually lacked the figuring found on De Luxe guitars.

Serial number: 65943
Top: Spruce, sunburst finish
Back and sides: Maple
Neck: Maple with mahogany center strip
Fretboard: Rosewood
Frets: 20
Bridge/tailpiece: Rosewood, nickel-plated Frequensator
Tuners: Nickel-plated Epiphone “E” with marbeloid buttons

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1961 Gibson Johnny Smith

1961 Gibson Johnny Smith

Lot # 11 (Sale Order: 11 of 136)      

NO RESERVE. Of the various hollow body archtop electric artist models that Gibson introduced in the 1960s, the Johnny Smith model was the most successful and enduring, remaining a fixture of the Gibson catalog until 1989. Developed at the same time as the Barney Kessel and Tal Farlow models and three years before the Trini Lopez model, the Johnny Smith was first offered as a single-pickup model upon its introduction in 1961 and later in an additional double-pickup version starting in 1963. The fact that the Johnny Smith was also Gibson’s most expensive artist model at the time did not affect its success.

This 1961 Johnny Smith is one of only 28 that produced during the model’s first year. It has a 25-inch scale, floating mini-humbucker installed at the neck position, and an L-5-style tailpiece featured an engraved plastic Johnny Smith name plate.

Serial number: 33872
Top: Spruce, sunburst finish
Back and sides: Maple
Neck: Maple with mahogany center strip
Fretboard: Ebony
Frets: 20
Bridge/tailpiece: Ebony with pearl inlays, gold-plated L-5-style Johnny Smith trapeze
Tuners: Gold-plated Kluson Sealfast with metal tulip-shaped buttons
Other: Floating mini-humbucker neck pickup, master volume control mounted on pickguard

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1932 Martin OM-18

1932 Martin OM-18

Lot # 12 (Sale Order: 12 of 136)      

Martin’s OM guitars were an instant success upon their introduction.

By 1931 when production was in full swing, the OM-18 was one of their most popular models, outsold only by significantly cheaper models like the 1-17, 0-17, and 0-18. By 1934 when the company changed the model’s name to the 000-18, it was Martin’s second most popular model, falling behind only the favored 0-17.

This 1932 OM-18 has the shaded brown finish that Martin introduced during the early 1930s. Typical of the OM model’s progressive design, it has all of Martin’s modern features—a belly bridge, pickguard, and solid “paddle” headstock with the C.F. Martin & Co. gold silkscreened logo. With the exception of its bar frets, this guitar looks like it could have come from the Martin factory in recent years.

Serial number: 50692
Top: Spruce
Back and sides: Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Fretboard: Ebony
Frets: 20
Bridge: Ebony belly pin
Tuners: Nickel-plated individual Grover G-98 open gear with metal butter bean buttons

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1900 Manuel Ramírez Flamenco

1900 Manuel Ramírez Flamenco

Lot # 13 (Sale Order: 13 of 136)      

Manuel Ramírez (1864-1916) learned how to build guitars from his brother José Ramírez and eventually opened his own shop in the early 1890s located on Madrid’s Plaza de Santa Ana. In 1897, Ramírez moved his workshop to Calle Arlabán 10 where it remained until late 1912. Many of the luthiers that he trained and who worked at his shop went on to become some of the finest classical and flamenco guitars makers of the early 20th century, including Modesto Borreguero, Domingo Esteso, Enrique Garcia, and Santos Hernandez. When Ramírez died in 1916, his widow continued to run the workshop, where Esteso and Hernandez remained until Ramírez’s widow died in 1921.

Why this guitar’s label is marked with serial number 1 is unknown, as it certainly isn’t the first guitar made by Ramírez or to come out of his workshop. Considering the year also marked on the label is 1900, perhaps Ramírez wanted to identify it as his first guitar of the 20th century.

The style of the label is quite different from those preceding it and those seen on guitars from his workshop made later in the 1900s, and it reads “Manuel Ramírez, Constructor de Guitarras, Segunda Epoca, Año 1900 No. 1, Arlabán 10 – Madrid.” Antonio de Torres had printed the words segunda epoca, which means “second season,” on his labels starting in 1887, and perhaps Ramírez was imitating Torres, although by 1900 he hadn’t really been making guitars long enough to truly enter a second phase. Perhaps the number 1 on this label is there to identify this guitar as being the first of Ramírez’s second epoch. Regardless, the segunda epoca label was short-lived, replaced a short while later by the much simpler label seen on the 1912 guitar in this auction.

The aesthetics of this guitar are relatively plain, particularly the rosette, which is just a series of simple rings. There are a few flourishes of style, however, including the triangular inlays on either side of the bridge and the wonderfully detailed circle and diamond pearl inlays on the ebony friction tuner buttons, which are also engraved. The guitar is as light as a feather and produces brilliant tone that even flamenco players today would admire.

Label: Manuel Ramírez, Constructor de Guitarras, Segunda Epoca, Año 1900 No. 1, Arlabán 10 – Madrid
Top: Spruce
Back and sides: Cypress
Neck: Three piece Spanish cedar neck
Fretboard: Ebony
Frets: 19
Bridge: Tie block
Tuners: Ebony friction with engraved pearl inlaid buttons

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1936 Gibson Super 400

1936 Gibson Super 400

Lot # 14 (Sale Order: 14 of 136)      

This is the first style of the Super 400, which became Gibson’s top-of-the-line model upon its introduction in 1934. Despite making its $400 retail price (the equivalent of about $7,000 today) and debut during the Great Depression, the Super 400 was very successful, particularly with professional guitarists who demanded only the best. Measuring 18 inches across the widest part of its body, the Super 400 was the largest archtop model that Gibson offered, measuring a full inch bigger than the Advanced L-5 also introduced in 1934.

This 1936 still has the narrower 12 1/4-inch upper bout, which Gibson widened to 13 5/8 inches later in 1936. Other notable “first edition” features include the gold-plated open gear Grover G-98 tuners and the hand-etched Super 400 trapeze tailpiece. The characteristic “mottled” pickguard is missing from this example.

Serial number: 94003
Top: Spruce, sunburst finish
Back and sides: Maple
Neck: Maple with mahogany center strip
Fretboard: Ebony
Frets: 20
Bridge/tailpiece: Rosewood, gold-plated Super 400 “Y” center trapeze
Tuners: Gold-plated brass Grover G-98 with metal buttons

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1935 Martin C-2

1935 Martin C-2

Lot # 15 (Sale Order: 15 of 136)      

NO RESERVE. Like the 1932 C-2 also in this auction, this C-2 has a carved, arched top and numerous Style 28 appointments, including slotted diamond fretboard inlays and a “zig-zag” back strip. This is another fine example from Martin’s short-lived production of archtop models.

Serial number: 59637
Top: Spruce, sunburst finish
Back and sides: Brazilian Rosewood
Neck: Mahogany
Fretboard: Ebony
Frets: 20
Bridge/tailpiece: Ebony, nickel-plated trapeze with “Martin” engraved on baseplate
Tuners: Nickel-plated individual Grover G-98 open gear with metal butter bean buttons

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C. Late 1940's Stromberg Ultra Deluxe

C. Late 1940's Stromberg Ultra Deluxe

Lot # 16 (Sale Order: 16 of 136)      

The Ultra Deluxe is a rare model that wasn’t a standard part of Stromberg’s catalogue; however, as a small, independent shop that built custom instruments, few of the guitars the Strombergs produced could in essence be called catalogue models.

With its engraved fretboard inlays, rear headstock overlay, gold-plated hardware, and figured maple neck, sides, and back, this Ultra Deluxe is certainly fancier than most existing Stromberg Deluxe models. Interestingly enough, the top is not quite as attractive as the rest of the guitar, featuring a wavy grain pattern and unbound three-segment f-holes. On a few occasions the Strombergs were known to use reclaimed wood to build guitars (long before it became fashionable to do so) and that may have been the case here.

Serial number: 522
Top: Spruce, natural finish
Back and sides: Maple
Neck: Maple with two mahogany center strips
Fretboard: Rosewood with engraved pearl block inlays
Frets: 20
Bridge/tailpiece: Rosewood, gold-plated engraved Stromberg trapeze with Y and arrow center section
Tuners: Gold-plated Grover G-98 open gear with butter bean buttons

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1950 Gibson Super 400CN

1950 Gibson Super 400CN

Lot # 17 (Sale Order: 17 of 136)      

Gibson didn’t resume post-war production of the natural finish cutaway Super 400, officially known as Super 400CN, until 1950. This is one of only seven Super 400CN guitars that Gibson made the first year that production resumed. Typical of the pre-war blonde Super 400s, this example is made with the finest materials available as the natural finish could not hide any flaws. This example does however have a rosewood fretboard as by this time Gibson’s supply of ebony had temporarily run out.

This example’s curly maple back has unusual and rare bubble figuring.

Serial number: A4521
FON: 17382
Top: Spruce, natural finish
Back and sides: Maple
Neck: Maple with mahogany center strip
Fretboard: Rosewood
Frets: 20
Bridge/tailpiece: Rosewood, gold-plated Super 400 “Y” center Varitone trapeze
Tuners: Gold-plated Kluson Sealfast with white plastic buttons

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C. 1956 Epiphone FT-210 Deluxe Cutaway

C. 1956 Epiphone FT-210 Deluxe Cutaway

Lot # 18 (Sale Order: 18 of 136)      

Epiphone offered the FT-210 Deluxe Cutaway flattop guitar for only three years between 1954 and 1957. Some featured a vine-pattern headstock inlay like the one seen on the sunburst example also in this auction, but this blonde example features a flower headstock inlay design, similar to the one used on Epiphone’s Broadway archtop model and seen on many other FT-210 Deluxe Cutaway guitars as well.

Measuring 17 3/8 inches across the widest part of its lower bout, the FT-210 Deluxe Cutaway is almost ½ inch wider than a Gibson J-200. It also has a carved, arched back that contributes to the guitar’s impressive volume output and projection. Jazz guitarist Harry Volpe often played an Epiphone FT-210 Deluxe Cutaway during the 1950s.

Serial number: 69624
Top: Spruce, natural finish
Back and sides: Maple
Neck: Maple
Fretboard: Rosewood
Frets: 20
Bridge: Rosewood rectangular pin
Tuners: Gold-plated Epiphone “E” with marbeloid buttons

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1914 Gibson K-4 Mandocello

1914 Gibson K-4 Mandocello

Lot # 19 (Sale Order: 19 of 136)      

NO RESERVE. The mandolin reigned supreme as the most popular stringed instrument in the United States at beginning of the 20th century through the early 1920s, closely followed in popularity by the banjo. During this period, many musicians formed mandolin orchestras consisting of multiple mandolin-style instruments inspired by the Classical string quartet, with the mandolin playing the role of the violin, the mandola a substitute for the viola, the mandocello like a cello, and the mando-bass the equivalent of a double bass.

Gibson made all of these instruments except the mando-bass in two styles: a simple rounded teardrop shape and the more elaborate Florentine style, with a two-point body, upper bass bout scroll, and scroll on the headstock. This Florentine-style 1914 K-4 mandocello is the largest of Gibson’s Florentine-style mandolin instruments. It features an oval soundhole, three extended frets for the two highest sets of strings, pearl double flowerpot headstock inlay, and Handel tuners with decorative inlays on the tuner buttons.

Serial number: 22245
FON: 2266
Top: Spruce, sunburst finish
Back and sides: Maple
Neck: Mahogany
Fretboard: Ebony
Frets: 24
Bridge/tailpiece: Ebony, “The Gibson” engraved tailpiece
Tuners: Four-on-a-plate Handel open gear with white ivoriod inlaid buttons

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1955 Martin D-28

1955 Martin D-28

Lot # 20 (Sale Order: 20 of 136)      

NO RESERVE. This is a great example of a D-28 from the mid-1950s period that’s preferred by many players. Notable features include its original Kluson “ridge back” enclosed tuners and graduated dot fretboard inlays.

In 2010, Martin offered the limited edition D-28 1955 CFM IV guitar in celebration of CEO Chris Martin’s 55th birthday, who was born on July 8, 1955. While that model was built as a painstaking replica of the original 1955 D-28, it did not have the Brazilian Rosewood back and sides that one finds on the real deal, like this particular guitar.

Serial number: 144138
Top: Spruce
Back and sides: Brazilian Rosewood
Neck: Mahogany
Fretboard: Ebony
Frets: 20
Bridge: Ebony belly pin
Tuners: Enclosed Kluson ridge back with metal buttons

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C. 1935 B & D Senorita S-1

C. 1935 B & D Senorita S-1

Lot # 21 (Sale Order: 21 of 136)      

The Bacon Banjo Company operated in Groton, Connecticut from 1906 until 1940 when Gretsch purchased the company. In 1922, David Day left Vega to work for Bacon, and shortly afterwards his move was immortalized by the B&D trademark that appeared on the headstocks of the company’s instruments. Bacon specialized primarily in building banjos, but the company also offered a variety of mandolins and guitars that likely were made by other manufacturers.

With its jumbo body and 14-fret neck, the B&D Señorita, built by Regal, was designed to compete with guitars like the Martin dreadnought and Gibson Jumbo. The scalloped X-braced top produces impressive volume output and rich tone. John Fahey played a B&D Señorita and was pictured with one on the cover of his album Requia.

Serial number: 34887
Top: Spruce, sunburst finish
Back and sides: Rosewood
Neck: Mahogany
Fretboard: Rosewood, dot inlays
Frets: 19
Bridge: Rectangular pin
Tuners: Nickel-plated Grover G-98 open gear with butter bean buttons

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1914 Martin 000-28

1914 Martin 000-28

Lot # 22 (Sale Order: 22 of 136)      

Built in 1914, the Martin 000-28 predates both World Wars. Interestingly, this guitar’s neck has 20 frets, but Martin did not display this feature on style 28 guitars until its 1917 catalog. Other appointments include herringbone purfling surrounding the top and fretboard inlays at only the fifth, seventh, and ninth frets. Although the build is not heavy enough to support steel strings, its X-braced top is strong enough for silk and steel strings. The materials used to build this guitar—Adirondack spruce, Brazilian rosewood, Spanish cedar—are stunning.

Serial number: 12045
Top: Spruce
Back and sides: Brazilian rosewood
Neck: Spanish cedar
Fretboard: Ebony
Frets: 20
Bridge: Ebony pyramid pin
Tuners: Waverly machine with white plastic buttons

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C. 1935 Prairie State

C. 1935 Prairie State

Lot # 23 (Sale Order: 23 of 136)      

NO RESERVE. Were it not for the interior reinforcement tube and laminated neck seen on this guitar, this Prairie State could easily be mistaken for a jumbo 14-fret Euphonon from the same era. This guitar appears to have the same proportions as the late-’30s Euphonon guitar that was one of Gene Autry’s favorite instruments, although this guitar’s appointments are not as fancy as those seen on his Euphonon. The headstock is tastefully decorated with two dot inlays and an engraved cloverleaf pattern at the top, and the neck features contrasting center strips.

Serial number: 1077
Top: Spruce
Back and sides: Brazilian Rosewood
Neck: Mahogany
Fretboard: Ebony
Frets: 19
Bridge: Ebony flattened pyramid pin
Tuners: Nickel-plated Grover G-98 open gear with metal buttons

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C. 1950 Stromberg Master 400

C. 1950 Stromberg Master 400

Lot # 24 (Sale Order: 24 of 136)      

Swedish immigrant Charles Stromberg and his son Elmer built guitars together in a small workshop in Boston, Massachusetts from the early 1930s through 1955. (Elmer died only a few months after his father passed away.) Like D’Angelico, the Strombergs specialized in acoustic archtop guitars that were built-to-order for a clientele made up almost exclusively of professional musicians. Stromberg players of note include Irving Ashby with Nat King Cole, jazz guitarist Barry Galbraith, and Freddie Green of the Count Basie Orchestra. Although Stromberg serial numbers only go as high as 636, it is estimated that the Strombergs made about a total of about 1,100 guitars.

Another notable guitarist who played Stromberg instruments is Hank Garland. While Garland is best known for the Byrdland model that he and Billy Byrd designed for Gibson, Garland owned and played instruments from a wide variety of manufacturers, including Bigsby, D’Angelico, Del Pilar, Epiphone, and Stromberg in addition to the numerous Gibson models in his arsenal. One of the most sought-after studio guitarists in Nashville during the 1950s, Garland was likely one of the first to bring multiple guitars to sessions to provide the ideal sound for each recording.

Garland played on hundreds of recordings in Nashville during the 1950s until 1961, when he suffered serious injuries due to an automobile accident. Some of the records he played on include numerous singles with Elvis Presley (“Little Sister,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” and many others), “I Fall to Pieces” with Patsy Cline, “The Hot Guitar” with Eddie Hill, various rockabilly sides with Eddie Bond, Patty Page’s “Just Because,” Bobby Helms’ “Jingle Bell Rock,” and many memorable hits. Garland also released numerous instrumental recordings under his own name, bookended by his signature single “Sugarfoot Rag” recorded in 1949 and his visionary jazz breakthrough album Jazz Winds in a New Direction, released in 1961 just before his accident.

Garland was always a fan of jazz music, and during a trip to New York City for a recording session with Eddie Albert in the early 1950s he met jazz guitarist Barry Galbraith, who showed Garland his short scale Stromberg guitar. Garland loved the instruments playability, and he ordered a similar Stromberg for himself. The Stromberg’s short scale inspired him to include the same feature on his Gibson Byrdland model. When Garland acquired this Stromberg Master 400 is unknown, but it was likely after he ordered his short scale model.

The Master 400 is a mammoth archtop with a body measuring 19 inches across the bottom bout. This guitar has a Stromberg gold-plated tailpiece that was not so subtly inspired by that of the Gibson Super 400, featuring a similar Y-shaped center section with two additional cross pieces forming an arrow design. The tuners are the same ones found on an Epiphone Emperor and even are embossed with Epiphone’s trademark “E” letter logo. Garland’s signature is on the back of the lower bass bout as well as on this guitar’s case.

Serial number: 546
Top: Spruce, natural finish
Back and sides: Maple
Neck: Maple with two mahogany center strips
Fretboard: Ebony
Frets: 20
Bridge/tailpiece: Ebony, gold-plated Stromberg trapeze with Y and arrow center section
Tuners: Gold-plated Epiphone “E” with marbeloid buttons

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1939 Gibson J-35

1939 Gibson J-35

Lot # 25 (Sale Order: 25 of 136)      

Initially named the Trojan model during its first few months of production in 1936, the J-35 as the model later became known was one of Gibson’s most popular pre-war flattop guitars. By the time Gibson discontinued the model in 1942, they had produced about 2,500 J-35 guitars. The J-35 actually outsold the Martin D-18 during its brief period of production and probably would have continued to do so if Gibson hadn’t replaced it with the equally popular J-45 in 1942.

This blonde example dates from 1939, the first year that Gibson produced the J-35 with a natural finish. It also has the rounded neck profile and rounded heel that started to appear on the J-35 during that year. Other notable features include the single-layer binding on the back and the gorgeous diagonal firestripe pickguard.

FON: 9445F 17
Top: Spruce, natural finish
Back and sides: Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Fretboard: Rosewood
Frets: 19
Bridge: Rectangular rosewood pin
Tuners: Open gear three-on-a-plate Kluson with plastic buttons

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