Featured

Featured instruments from Vintage American Guitar.

  • It’s beyond rare to find a guitar from the early Martin – Coupa - Schmidt – Maul – Schatz era in this state of preservation. And one this large. This rare model Schmidt & Maul guitar – by the original C.F. Martin's most famous colleagues and contemporaries– is signed and dated, October 18th, 1852, and is in its original coffin case. And best of all– it plays wonderfully, with low action. A unique piece of American guitar history– not for hanging on the wall but to play. The instrument is signed on the underside of the top: Louis Schmidt Tompkinsville  Staten Island New York   388 Broadway October 18th  1852 U.S. This higher end, Spanish neck/heel (not ice-cream cone) Schmidt & Maul is bigger than all the Schmidt & Maul, Schmidt, or George Maul guitars that have come up for sale in the past decades (and not many of any kind have come up for sale). It’s a bit larger than a size 2 Martin, with a width at lower bout of 12 3/16 inches.(Every other Schmidt & Maul that has come to market has been a smaller guitar.) The guitar is braced inside (all original) with an early X-bracing variation similar to the 1953 Schmidt & Maul featured on p. 213 of the book “Inventing the American Guitar– The Pre-Civil War Innovations of C.F. Martin and His Contemporaries” edited by Robert Shaw and Peter Szego. (Hal Leonard Books, 2013). Like the 1853 guitar illustrated in that book, this guitar has bracing on top and back that is very close to the guitar that CF Martin and Schatz made for Madame de Goni. With all original finish, original ebony bridge, and original Jerome tuners– it’s in remarkable condition. To get the best of both worlds– historically authenticity and playability– the guitar has just had a recent neck set, original bridge reglue, and other minor work including new saddle, by one of the country’s top luthiers and authorities for early Martin and early American guitars– Steve Kovacik. All work was done by Steve to historically correct preservation standards after extensive examination and consultation. (Note, in the photo: the picture of the signature inside the guitar: the two cleats are not later repairs– rather they are two center seam-stabilizing cleats put in by the original luthiers in 1852.) Amazingly, this guitar plays in tune up and down the fretboard. Thank the original luthiers at 388 Broadway for that– they had the foresight to add slight compensation (not angled saddle compensation but cheating the saddle back a bit) to the bridge/saddle. Not even CF Martin did that in those years). And thanks to Steve Kovacik for setting this instrument up with low action not ballpark “19th century” action. The Adirondack top is crack-free. Crack-free sides. There are two almost imperceptible cracks on the back– you have to look hard to see them, both addressed by Steve Kovacik.
    • “Schmidt & Maul New York” stamps on neck block, and center strip inside guitar
    • X-braced, all original braces inside
    • Spanish foot construction
    • Radiused Ebony fretboard
    • All historically correct bar fret replacement by Steve Kovacik (not too high, and not too thick– correct size bar frets were used, properly finished)
    • Original bridge plate, in fine condition
    • Original Jerome tuners and buttons
    • Original nut, and saddle, in case. New nut and saddle by Steve Kovacik
    • Rosette: shares a feature with early Martins– a variant of the "tooth" rosette– a three ring rosette with green "tooth" inner ring, and small "rope" outer rings
    • Marquetry Purfling around top, + Maple binding
    • Back purfling (backstrip): see Martin Guitars: A Technical Reference, p. 13: this is a “Pre-1867 style 34” Martin style purfling
    • Maple binding, back
    • Solid Adirondack top
    • Solid brazilian rosewood back and sides
    • Cedar, Spanish style neck and heel
    • Width at lower bout: 12 3/16 inches
    • Body length: 18 ¼ inches
    • Nut width: 1 15/16 inches
    • String spacing at bridge: 2 5/16
    • Scale length: 24 ½ inches (But there is a slight compensation: 12th fret to the saddle– Schmidt and Maul added a touch of compensation !
    • Original scooped-back ebony bridge
    • 100% original finish. No overspray, touch-up, etc. anywhere…wonderful finish
    This instrument sounds and plays differently than the early Martins we’ve had. It’s stronger in the trebles and mids, not the bass strings. With this instrument, it means a guitar that responds to a more delicate touch– you barely have to pick or strum, to get wonderful tone. After careful experimentation for the best tone, we’ve put German Thomastik-Infeld Classic S, Precision KF110 strings on the guitar (totally within the tension levels appropriate for a 19th century guitar of this stature). The result is a guitar that responds to a very light touch, and really delivers– a nuanced, bright and glassy, brazilian tone– in the higher frets especially. Unlike 19th century Martins, it’s a joy to play especially in frets 5-14, with very low action that lets you explore the octaves and harmonics in places you’d typically not go to in such an early guitar. And with endless brazilian sustain. The guitar is in its original hand-made wood coffin case, that still has its original fabric lining, and all hardware, all in great condition. Price: $9850.
  • A beautiful, original example of one of the rarest prewar Martin ukuleles. This is a prewar Martin C-1. (All Concert Model ukuleles from Martin– with the exception of few special orders– were style 1). Officially called the Concert model ukulele, it’s larger than the many soprano size ukes. It’s very rare to find a prewar C-1 on the market– and much rarer still to find a pre-1933. This instrument was made between 1925 and 1933– because of the Martin stamp on the back of the headstock and the lack of the (post-1933) Martin decal on the front of the headstock. This is currently the only Martin C-1 from the late 1920’s on the market. And the tone and playability are perfect. Louder, and more bell like tone than a Martin Style 1 soprano uke. Martin concert ukuleles are the same body size as taropatch (1918-1932) but with four strings only. While the taropatch had been offered with four strings since its introduction, the new concert model was different in that it had a narrower neck and a standard soprano-size bridge. It was added to the standard catalog that year and by 1927 it was outselling all taropatch models combined. Concerts ukuleles are tuned the same as the sopranos but because of the larger body have a deeper and richer sound, and a slightly longer, easier to play scale length of 14 3/4". The Concert Ukulele from Martin–while rare to find a prewar example– is considered the ideal size for players– larger than the tiny soprano but not too big like the Martin Tenor uke. This one has a rich, beautiful tone, and it’s almost unplayed condition. The action is perfect. There is one small crack on top–but it’s essentially “cleated” by the orignal bridde plate and does not need addressing, and a smaller finish crack that does not go through to the inside). The braces and all else inside: pristine. And it even comes in its original canvas case. Original patent tuners Original ebony nut Brazilian rosewood fretboard Style 1: all mahogany, with brazilian binding on top Total length: 23 ¼ inches Body length: 11 inches Body width upper bout: 5 ¾ inches Body width lower bout: 7 5/8 inches Scale length: 14 ¾ inches   Price: with original case. $2150.
  • Impossible to mistake this guitar for a “1937 Authentic” or some such “recreation”. This 000-18 left the Martin factory in Nazareth, in 1937, indeed. And it’s been well-played since. More importantly, the tone is stellar– all you would expect from this style, this year, and more. Its bass response is similar to the best prewar D-18s. And it has the unmistakable string separation that only prewar Martins have. This instrument was in the family of its original owner until we obtained it. The original owner was Leroy Jenkins, a blind country artist in the 1950’s, in Texas, on the Dude label. (Will include CD’s of these recordings, and photos including the artist and the guitar, from the 50’s, for the purchaser) The good deal of wear on this instrument puts it in affordable range for more players. But the integrity is all there: the original bridge that has never been off the guitar. (The bridge has been shaved down a tiny bit on top– often done in previous decades in lieu of a neck set. Because this original bridge looks to have never been taken off–we chose to leave that originality and not replace the bridge.) Original bridge plate (does have a very small maple bridge plate “helper” on top of (not altering) the original bridge plate but we chose to leave it on, it’s tiny and unobtrusive and not an issue and the tone of the instrument could not be better). Original tuners. Original pickguard. No cracks on the top (not even a typical Martin “pickguard” crack). No cracks on back. The treble side has repaired cracks and a small repaired impact. The action is perfect, the neck straight. It needs nothing, and plays superbly. A piece of Martin, and Texas history, and a joy to play. Price: $10,950. In a modern Martin hard shell case.
  • Early 1970s, but in remarkably original condition. And this instrument is from the first, early production– so it has the maple 3-ply rim. This should not be comparied to later production Whyte Eagles– this is a very rare early one with unique features, and great tone. Bluegrass banjo players seek out the 70’s Alvarez Whyte Eagles, known for their tone and craftsmanship. It was a pretty short window of only about five years, when these banjos were made with this kind of craftsmanship. They blow away most any banjo made and marketed (from any country) in the 60s, 70s and 80s– and they show no logos on headstock– just beautiful mother of pearl. It’s the No. 4310 “Whyte Eagle”. Based on late 1920’s Vega Griffin (Tubaphone #9) style inlays, with engraved, carved heel. Sunburst finish maple banjo, Gibson-style 2 piece flange, full height 20 hole archtop tone ring, dual coordinator rods, flamed maple resonator, maple neck, chrome finish. Neck is butterfly with ebony strip on back of neck, down the center. It’s extremely rare to find a Whyte Eagle from this very early period (serial number 1672), when they first came out and the company bent over backwards to produce an instrument with zero compromise, from the inlays to the maple rim. The early features that are not on the later 70's Whyte Eagles, are– in addition to the 3-ply maple rim (not the 10-ply rim of almost all other Whyte Eagles)– the smaller star on the front of headstock (later models had a larger star), no “Alvarez” logo just the eagle inlay, and a darker sunburst on the resonator. Flamed maple resonator (sunburst back, with a touch of milkiness to the original finish) Maple butterfly neck Hand-carved heel Two piece flange Mother of pearl inlays Original tuners Grover bridge 1 3/16 nut Scale: 26 ¼ inches 20 hole archtop tone ring 11 inch head With original hard shell case. Price $1850.
  • 19th century Martin parlor guitar. This lovely sounding Martin 2 1/2-17 features solid Brazilian Rosewood back and sides, Adirondack spruce top, and original Jerome tuners. This particular instrument has a beautiful, lyrical voice. It was made probably circa 1867-1870. There are several clues to establish that: the original coffin case with the guitar has attributes of an earlier case: the small brass handle, and the label inside the case has font and other attributes of late a 1860s case. Also, the particular style of the original Jerome Tuners. Kerfing inside is also indicative of an 1860’s Martin. And, the best clue of all: the 1 ¾ inch nut width. Of course, it’s post-1867, because of the “CF Martin & Co” stamps inside. The top is fan braced, typical of this style. Measurements are: body length 17 7/8", lower bout width 11 5/8", overall length 36 1/2"; scale length 24 ½ inches. 4 inch body depth at end pin; 3 3/8 inch boy depth at neck joint. 1 ¾ inch nut width– may have been a custom order, or just a slightly narrower nut width (from the 1 7/8 more common later) from the factory. 12 fret cedar neck/ebonized, with ice cream cone heel. All original finish, everywhere. A fair-to-low amount of playwear (see photos). Original bar frets in fine condition. Several small hairline cracks in back, repaired. Top and sides also have a couple or repaired cracks. Reproduction ebony bridge– just made by Dick Dubois.. Original bar frets. Original bracing. "C.F. MARTIN &CO/ NEW YORK" hot stamped on back strip inside, and heel block. CF Martin New York stamped on back, by heel joint. Original Jerome tuners, with original buttons– note, one of the sun gears (on the G string tuner) has been replaced, with a different 19th century Martin sun gear (see photo). Historical interest aside (these just-post-civil war Martin guitars are more rare than the 1870’s/1880’s/1890’s examples), this guitar plays wonderfully. It projects glassy brazilian trebles, and clear mids and bass notes. It’s just a joy to play, and it just floats in your hands (due to its very light weight). Action is good, and it plays in tune even on the higher frets. (Note: 19th century Martins can be fitted with: gut strings, classical guitar strings, or sometimes silk and steel/tuned down–depending on the guitar. It’s really a case-by-case basis. One size does not fit all. And different 19th century Martins sound better with different strings. In this case, with this particular guitar, our favorite strings if you want a “classical” style string but more brightness and volume than nylon classical strings: Savarez Alliance composite High Tension strings (note, “high tension” by classical standards– fine for this instrument). This instruments sounds wonderful with those strings. In is original coffin case (and case has all the original hardware, as well as its original cloth interior lining). Price: $3950.
  • Many players consider the best Martin D-28’s from the 70’s great guitars– and the best value around if you want a vintage D-28 on a budget. The best ones deliver great tone– a darker, richer voice than 50's or 60’s D-28’s. The non-adjustable truss rod, and great Indian rosewood Martin used in those years, and the nice bear claw sitka on top on this example, all make for a lovely instrument. A few nicks and dings, but in remarkable original condition. This instrument delivers. It’s all original, and it’s 100% crack-free (not even the common “pickguard crack”). The original pickguard is not lifting as you often see on these Martins. Original bridge that's never been off the guitar, pins, everything. It has the typical slight finish crazing on top, visible from an angle– it’s common on this vintage. The neck has never been set. Frets in fine shape. Original Grovers. With a low-ish saddle, it plays fine. And in tune everywhere. At some point in the future the new owner may want to do a neck set, but we prefer to keep it all original (and the action is fine as is). In it’s original Martin case from the factory in great condition. Price: $2350.
  • This could be the best blackguard telecaster tribute ever. An homage to the great early 50’s telecaster. But it only gets accolades if it’s a great player. This one is a great player–its light weight (same weight range as on original early 50s telecaster), pickups, setup, and attention to detail make for a great sounding tele. A joy to play. There appear to be a few original 1952/1953 parts on this guitar– but this guitar is being offered strictly as a reproduction/tribute. And it’s a tribute, in its way, to the art of the (great) copy– and on that note, it comes with Nacho Baños’ great book, The Blackguard book (out of print and a $300-400 value in itself), with matching serial number on the cover of the book. (Click here for a story on Baños.) So the purchaser can follow along the narrative of some of the great original early Blackguards in the book–and how to identify original early 50’s Telecaster, Nocaster, and Esquire elements and parts– while having fun with this intriguing tribute guitar. • The bridge, a good reproduction of unknown origin. The photos tell the story. (Original early 50’s brass saddles?). Reproduction tuners. • The pickguard looks convincing, but we're calling it a reproduction. • Seymour Duncan Antiquity pickups. • The pots, and the pickup switch, appear to be original 1952 or 1953 Fender parts (but not with original solder joints etc). • The control plate appears to be an original 1952/1953 Fender plate. Tone, volume knobs are (good) reproductions. • Neck is from Mark Jenny, stamped on heel as official Fender “Licensed” neck. Medium C profile. Great feel– not baseball bat, and not too thin. • Weight, with strings: 6.625 lbs. This is in the same weight range as original early 50s telecasters. Compare to the weight of mediocre telecaster “reissues” on the market today, all of which weigh much more. • The body is by Mark Jenny. We waited patiently for over a year until the right Jenny body became available, to complete this instrument in the best way possible and to remove from the market the (nice light weight) reproduction body that was in place when we acquired the guitar that had a non-authentic 1952 date and signature in the neck pocket. The right thing to do– and the Mark Jenny body in place now has crazing and other elements characteristic to the early blackguard look, weight, wear, and feel. • Set up perfectly, and ready to play. Sold as a reproduction/tribute guitar only, together with the Nacho Baños The Blackguard book (book in as-new condition in original box) that will school the new owner on how to evaluate the fine, fully pedigreed, great Blackguards of the early 50’s. Price: $5450.
  • Another instrument from Enos Hernandez of Mexico, one of the best luthiers to ever live in work in Mexico, circa 1970’s. This one is a flamenco Blanca, with the classic cypress back and sides. Like the other Enos Hernandez we have, this one also has a cedar top. The instrument is super light weight, as a Flamenco Blanca should be, and it’s bright and percussive and raspy as a good Blanca should be. Scale length: 660mm Available January 2018 Price: $2950
  • More rare than a Panormo guitar, this original, wonderfully preserved and sonorous guitar is from the London-based J. Guiot, circa 1846– and it’s a cousin if not a sibling of a Panormo, in style, appointments, and provenance. The headstock and neck volute of this instrument, as well as the bridge, exactly match that of two known Guiot guitars of the period (see links below). It’s possible that this guitar was made in the workshop of Panormo by Guiot while he worked there, and it is in fact Panormo in style, exactly– but likely it’s one of the very rare-on-the-market Guiot guitars made after Guiot established an independent workshop in the 1840’s. Either way, we guarantee it as a Guiot, and the value of Guiots– being very rare– are in line with Panormos. This guitar is in remarkable original condition, with none of the kinds of damage, major repairs, or structural issues found on nearly all surviving instruments of the period. And even more importantly, it plays wonderfully as well. We simply adjusted the nut a bit, and leveled the original frets, and it plays like it was recently made– but with a sound that only an 1840’s, London-made Spanish style guitar can produce. The intonation is great. Action is fine– not too high. Listen to the sound/video clip of this guitar being played, by clicking here. (Note: the video is labeled “Panormo” because the instrument was thought to be a Panormo when the recording was made. The guitar being played on the video is indeed this instrument). The guitar has a couple of repaired back cracks, and one well repaired top crack– amazingly little for a guitar this age. The features of this instrument: All original finish Spruce top Brazilian Rosewood back and sides Original Baker Tuners Original pin bridge, that has never been off the guitar Original frets Fan braced, 5 fan braces Scale length: 25 inches (63.5 cm) Lower bout: 11 3/8 inch (29.3 cm) Upper bout: 8 ¾ inches String spacing at bridge: 2 ½ inches Nut: 47 cm String spacing at nut: 1 ¾ inches Depth of sides (bottom): 4 inches (10cm) Depth of sides (top): 3 ½ Body length: 17 ¾ J. Guiot and A. Guiot were some of the luthiers who left France between 1830 and 1850, to work in London– and like Panormo, the Guiots made guitars in the Spanish style. Panormo had adopted a more Spanish style of guitar building in large part due to the urging of Fernando Sor– and that style that would soon overtake the French style, and eventually dominate in the new world as well (i.e. CF Martin’s adoption of the Spanish style of guitar making circa 1844 onward). The well known American composer and performer Madame Sydney Pratten was an ardent proponent of– and player of– the Guiot guitars in the mid-19th century. Reference: two Guiot instruments with the exact headstock and neck volute, and bridge (and also fret markers on 5, 7, and 9 position on the 1846 instrument): • Terz guitar, made by Guiot, Panormo model, London, made 1846– click here to view • J. Guiot, Panormo school guitar, made 1844 – click here to view. The instrument is in a modern hard shell case. Price: $6950.
  • This is a superb sounding 5 string banjo. Original nickel plating. • Bacon & Day Super, 5-string Banjo (Style A) Serial number: 25892 (early 1928) • Resonator, stamped on inside (in nickel-laminated maple): Bacon Banjo Co., Inc. Groton, CT. U.S.A. Dec. 20th, 1927 • Conversion, 5 string neck (original neck was probably a tenor or plectrum); Presumably, this neck is newer than the banjo– yet the advanced MOP fret markers are as found on the earliest versions of B&D Super banjos. We assume this neck was built by one of the best U.S. “conversion” builders – with a re-use of the original MOP inlay at the peghead plus the dowel stick. Maple neck, with steel reinforcing rod. Fretboard is beautiful jet-black ebony; multi-layer neck bindings. Fretboard is a very comfortable 1 3/8 inches wide at the nut, 1 7/8 wide where fretboard meets body. • Nickel plated • 22 frets • Scale length: 27 inches • Extended Maple resonator– nickel laminated on inside • Original flat Tulip-hole flange (not the “add-on” round-hole resonator of earlier years). • Original, top of the line Type III Silver Bell tone ring (No Hole tone ring) original to the instrument (this is the most sought-after, advanced Silver Bell tone ring, introduced early 1927). • Original 2 band Grover geared tuning pegs • Fults tailpiece, and included a variety of Fults tone pins. Bob Fults made the best tailpieces available. And his tone pins let you tweak the tone of your banjo. There are several interchangeable Fults pins included here– ivory, ebony, lead, sterling silver, brass, and copper. Plus a “tone lock”. (Bob Fults recently retired, and these highly sought after Fults tailpieces and pins are no longer available.) In its original hard shell Lifton case. $3750.
  • This rare 1926 example of Bacon & Day’s Super, Plectrum banjo is in wonderful condition– collectors quality, but it plays wonderfully. And this is the rare “Super” model A, gold plated. (All original, and with matching serial number on rim and dowel stick.) Original soft pedal stamped "Pat. Pend. B.&D. Soft Pedal." The original gold plating is in great condition, showing extremely little tarnishing, and no thin spots. In fact the banjo shows very little playwear at all. Original plectrum neck, original armrest– in fact all parts are original. Produced in the golden age of Bacon & Day (B&D) production, this banjo was made in Groton, CT. Although the earliest Bacon banjos were produced by various makers for Bacon from 1906-1920, the company’s best era began in 1922 when David Day left the Vega company to partner with Fred Bacon who had begun crafting his instruments in-house in 1920. The B&D banjos produced in this era are of considerably higher quality and are the sought after models by both players and collectors. The photos tell the story. 26 inch scale length. 22 fret plectrum 11″ rim In a recent hard shell case. Price: $2750.
  • Players know Larson brothers guitars for the astounding tone, and that wonderful, indescribable Larson “shimmer” (glassy but round penetrating mids and trebles) and sustain. We’ve had a variety of smaller body Larsons, but none like this Maurer, Larson brothers. Not like this big, dreadnaught scale, 16 inch lower bout instrument. And not with this much bass tone and clarity and volume on top of the classic Larson treble shimmer and overall sustain. Any 14 fret Larson brothers guitar is rare– and this one more so. The Larson brothers, August and Carl, did not of course make instruments with a “Larson” label or markings (except for a few custom guitars–very few including some that they signed/dated on the underside of the top and/or guitars that carried no “branding” of any of the companies below, i.e no branding at all). All of their instruments were branded and marketed under the companies Stahl, Maurer, Prairie State, Euphonon, Dyer, Bruno, and a few more. Larson traits include “built under tension” design (and with the resulting more "radiused" top; the “ebony under the binding” on the neck; some have fret inlay at the 10th fret (as opposed to the 9th fret like most other makers); some have laminated top braces (spruce-rosewood-spruce); the classic Larson bridge that is tall at the saddle slot and slopes down sharply toward the back (and with the square wings). But few single Larson guitars have all of the above features. This instrument does have them all save the earlier style 5-7-10 fret inlays. This guitar, like all the later Larson large bodied guitars (mainly branded Euphonon by the late 30’s) has 5-7-9 fret inlays. The fret inlays here exactly match all the large bodied Larson Euphonons of the 1930’s. This Larson brothers guitar is branded Maurer, but it’s one of the very rare instruments that, while a Maurer/Larson brothers, has all the traits of the 16 inch Euphonon. This guitar was made as a Maurer when the Larsons were just starting to switch the production of the large size guitars to the Euphonon branding exclusively. So it’s a late Maurer/early Euphonon style large bodied Larson brothers guitar. Very rare. (Update May 12th 2018: note today from Bob Hartman to us about this instrument. Bob is the preeminent authority and historian on Larson guitars: "There was a store in Milwaukee, WI. that sold Larsons until about 1940. I spoke with the owner back in the 1980s and he said he had never heard of the Euphonon brand. All his large body guitars were branded Maurer. I have since dubbed these guitars, 'Milwaukee Euphonons'." Milwaukee Euphonon it is. This instrument has:
    • Maurer Stamp on inside back strip
    • The unique Larson brothers spruce/rosewood/spruce laminated top braces inside – X bracing
    • Unique Larson brothers "ebony beneath the binding" on the neck
    • Red spruce top
    • Mahogany back and sides
    • 1 ¾ inch nut width
    • 25 ½ inch scale length
    • 16 inch lower bout width
    • Original ebony bridge
    • Original bridge plate
    • Original tuners
    • Original frets
    • Original finish, with a good deal of wear to the finish on top
    • Repaired end pin area cracks
    It is in a modern hard shell case. Price: 14950.