Bigsby groupAnyone who knows the story of Paul A. Bigsby, understands the massive impact he had on the development of the solidbody electric guitar.  His own hand-made instruments were as much works of art as they were engineering achievements, as well as the genesis for what was about to happen in the music industry in the early 1950s.  Ironically,  Bigsby may well be most recognized in modern times as the inventor of a wonderful guitar accessory known as “The True Vibrato”.  I’m currently satisfying my obsession with these devices through deep research.  We’ll see what comes of that…!

labels: Recent News

Ball's Manual book coverAfter a long wait, we finally have confirmation that the new book, Ball’s Manual of Gretsch Guitars – 1950s will be released at the end of July. Thanks to everyone who helped make this project a reality! Now I can start working on the 1960s version…!

Released in 2014 by Schiffer Publishing, this effort is more of a technical resource featuring the most accurate explanation of the several Gretsch serial numbering schemes, the common features found on Gretsch guitars, and an overview of each of the models offered for sale during the decade of the 1950s.  Most significantly, there is a table I’ve created identifying each year’s factory production, batch-by-batch, in chronological order based on serial numbers.  This information resides nowhere else, and will help to clarify nagging issues within the Gretsch enthusiast community relating to model year attribtion for each batch.

labels: Recent News

The February, 2014 issue of Vintage Guitar magazine has my article on some amazing prototypical Country Gentleman specimens.  This article features two known examples, but served to flush out yet another from a reader… and it turns out to be the earliest of the bunch!

labels: Recent News

1959 Country Gentleman model 6122

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Country Gentleman model was Chet Atkins’ opportunity to “fix” all the features that he was obligated to endure on the Chet Atkins 6120 Signature model, but didn’t really like much.  So gone where the open sound-holes, screaming orange stained finish, and single-coil DeArmond Dynasonic pickups.  This new model (6122) was a professional instrument that suited both Atkins playing style as well as his more muted personality.  Introduced for the 1958 model year, only 100 were made. The 1959 model year brought a few refinements, including the “zero fret” feature and the earliest examples of the V-style Bigsby.  It was this model year that Chet’s personal instrument originated from. It was a favored guitar for many years.  Only about 150 of the ’59 model year examples were produced.  The one offered in this auction is all original and in spectacular condition.

labels: Ebay

1939/40 Gretsch catalog

Sunday, August 11, 2013

This is an extremely rare example of early Gretsch ephemera. It’s a hard-bound catalog containing all the instruments that the Gretsch company marketed, including drums, banjos, brass instrument, accessories, and of course guitars. These hard-bound books were provided to instrument dealers to keep as a house-copy. They were published every few years. Most have not survived. For Gretsch guitar enthusiasts, the attraction to this catalog is that it announces the stylish Synchromatic acoustic archtop pre-war product line. Interestingly, it also lists (but does not depict) the first Gretsch branded electric guitar offering, the “Electromatic Spanish”.

labels: Ebay

Ebay Auction Item

Friday, August 2, 2013

Here we have a rare beast!  This Broadkaster parlor format guitar pre-dates the Gretsch American Orchestra archtop product line (’32-39ish).  It is listed in the 1933 Gretsch catalog (No.33), and was presumably made prior to that for only a short period.  The pearloid headstock and etched vertical logo running down it’s face matches the headstock aesthetic of New Yorker and Orchestrella banjo models offered during the same period. The Broadkaster sub-brand was applied to banjos, drums, and brass instruments.  The specimen in this auction is serial numbered, and research suggests that it’s from the 1931/32 time frame.

labels: Ebay

Vintage Guitar Magazine Article

Thursday, August 1, 2013

firstpost_imgKeep an eye out for my article in the October issue of Vintage Guitar magazine, featuring the recently discovered 1954 prototypical Chet Atkins 6120. This guitar is one of only three such prototypes known to exist from the infamous #137xx batch, and it provides a glimpse into the origins of this iconic guitar model. The October issue will hit the newsstands in mid-August.

labels: Recent News

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