Featured instruments from Vintage American Guitar.

  • Circa 1912 Mother of Pearl Inlaid Guitar The guitar is extensively inlayed with mother of pearl . The guitar was restored in 2001, work that included converting the instrument to X-bracing, reproduction ebony bridge, reproduction small maple bridge plate. It’s signed inside by the restorer, “B. Lehmann 2001” (Bernie Lehmann, well known luthier in New York.) The guitar has no stamps or labels, but it was probably made by George Bauer – because of many stylistic similarities. The guitar is set up and ready to play. As many guitars of this era, the tone is tilted toward very bright, glassy, brazilian rosewood trebles, not fuller bass. Solid Spruce top Solid Brazilian Rosewood back and sides MOP inlays, fretboard, rosette, and bindings X-braced Original tuners Width at lower bout: 13 1/2 inches Scale Length: 24 7/8 inches Nut Width: 1 ¾ inches V shaped neck .... no longer available....
  • 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. There is a scratch (not a crack) on back of guitar (see photo). There are dot position markers – original to the guitar, i.e. not added later – on top edge of fretboard (frets 3,5,7,9 – see photo). Scale length: 660mm Available January 2018 Price: $2950
  • This is great example of Martin’s post war, 1950’s style 0 Ukulele. It has a few nicks and dings, but it’s 100% crack free. And it’s in its original case. It was made between 1957 and 1960 (as indicated by the tuners, and the lack of the “Made in U.S.A.”). Price: $995.
  • Out of stock
    Circa 1860, style 3 guitar built by renowned luthier, James Ashborn of Wolcottville, CT, for William Hall & Son music store. Brazilian rosewood back and sides; Adirondack top; double maple binding (on both back, and front); original coffin case. This guitar is is 100% original, including all original finish, and down to original ebony nut, and original bridge (and saddle) that has never been off the guitar. And it comes in its original wood coffin case, as it left the factory around 1860. This James Ashborn style 3 is rare, and unique because it has brazilian veneer on the neck (not the fretboard which is ebony, but the back of neck), original to the guitar. And, that is very rare for any style/number Ashborn. Also unique to Ashborn’s style 3: his trademark hand-made tuners, have ebony buttons (not rosewood buttons as on his style 1, and 2) And this is a superb sounding Ashborn, unrivaled in tone by any 1850’s/1860’s American guitar we’ve seen and played, including any Martin from that era. Ashborn varied a few details on his guitars (styles 1,2,3, 5), but he did not vary the size of the guitars. He made them all the same body and neck size (unlike Martin for example). They are all the same size. And almost all had spruce/Brazilian veneer on back and sides. As this does. • Nut width is 1 7/8 inches • Width at lower bout: 11 3/8 inches • Scale Length: 24 inches • the action is 4/32 inch on both sides, at 12th string – normal action for this kind of guitar • There are repaired cracks on top, and back of guitar. All professionally repaired. James Ashborn was born in England circa 1816 and came to New England in the late 1830s. Ashborn had his shop in Torrington, but soon after start-up, he began selling guitars to the New York distributor William Hall & Son, whose name appears inside the instruments. From Vintage Guitar magazine: “Ashborn’s design for the guitar was quite innovative for the early 19th century. Instead of making guitars fashioned after the typical parlor-style guitars, he made them in the Spanish style, by taking interior bracing cues from the Spanish while retaining the body of the English guitars. This included a fan brace pattern rather than the more common ladder pattern Ashborn guitars have a very complex dovetail V joint for attaching the head to the neck. The headstock was cut in roughly five steps, using some kind of tracing router, as suggested by the chatter marks on the inside ears of the pegbox. In addition to the complex head design, Ashborn made his own tuning machines in-house. They’re made of brass, very much like contemporary machines, with worm gears, cog gears, and rollers. … Ashborn’s shop was extremely advanced for its time, having a great deal of know-how and technology. Ashborn understood the need to have the technology as well as the skill, but more importantly he discovered a new way of making high-quality instruments that were affordable. He was able to create a factory environment where workers did what they were good at and, with practice, became very fast and consistent. With a new level of consistency in mass production, he created the path followed by other companies such as Martin, Gibson, and Taylor. Using designs ahead of his time, he was able to bring the sound and change to people who otherwise never would have been able to acquire an instrument of this quality.” .... No longer available....
  • 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 was one of the best amps ever made by the legendary Gerald Weber. All-tube circuitry, designed and made in the USA, by Weber. It not only has power to spare (50 watts), but its unique circuitry has two channels, clean and lead, with different preamp circuit. These channels can be blended through patching the second input of one channel into the first input of the other, for purposes of blending the two channels together and further tone shaping with the interactive tone circuit. The bottom line: Tons of power if you need it, but the ability to get all the creamy, lush lead tones with the lead channel and/or blending. You just have to hear it. Original, handmade hardwood cabinet. 2 x 12: one 12 inch Kendrick brown frame and one 12 inch Kendrick black frame speaker. Kendrick's double spring reverb with three controls. Great condition. Recently serviced by one of the best amp techs in Texas. Price: $1495. No shipping. Local pickup only in Austin.
  • Acquired from the original owner – who bought this wonderful instrument directly from David Caro in the mountain town of the maker, one of the best luthiers that Paracho, Mexico has ever produced – in the mid 90’s and hand-carried it to California where it was lightly played. And it remains in remarkable original condition. The maker is David Caro, also known as David Caro Leonardo, or David Caro L. (In Mexico, the last/last name, in this case “Leonardo”, is the mother’s maiden name that is formally added after a person’s last [paternal] name but typically dropped in all but formal situations, documents etc.) Caro’s best instruments are among the best of a small, elite group that honed their craft at the top levels, and also benefited from visits and master classes given in Paracho by some world class luthiers from Spain, Germany, and the USA such as Felix Manzanero, Antonio Raya Pardo, Jose Romanillos, Thomas Humphery, and Herman Hauser III. Only a few Paracho luthiers have stood out over the years – Jose Navarro, Arturo Huipe, Abel Garcia, Enos Hernandez (his best work), German Vasquez Rubio, and Caro among them. See the enclosed photos from Fretboard Journal magazine, Spring 2008, that featured David Caro prominently in the feature article in that issue on Paracho luthiers. Paracho is an originally Tarascan village that sits in a high valley at 7,300 feet altitude, in the state of Michoacán, a relatively little visited state but renowned for its diversity and great beauty – and for some of the best classical guitar luthiers in the Americas. It extends from the Pacific coast, and is crossed by the Sierra Madre Del Sur in its southern part and by high volcanic mountains in its northern axis. When this guitar was made, in 1996, David Caro was at the height of his craft. And soon after, he was the first luthier to be added to the GSA calendar. This instrument is among the very best guitars ever made by Caro. And we love the model designation, it’s signed by hand on the label, “Mdo. 500”, i.e. “model 500” – sounds like a sports car name. Model 500 was the top model from Caro, in 1995/96 – using top woods, and also the best bindings, and all details. In those years, Caro’s best concert instruments went from model 100 at the base level, then ascending in tone woods and overall construction details to 200, 300, 400, then reaching the top level of “500”. So we’re calling this instrument, “el Quinientos”. (Spanish for “the 500” – nice ring to that – it’s pronounced “key-knee-éntose”) Several things make this guitar stand out as a gem: • It’s the top model from this luthier in the 1990’s • The great original condition • Scale length of 648mm. This scale length is reminiscent of Herman Hauser I’s guitars, and is firmly in the school of the shorter 650 range, not the longer scale lengths that crept in, in the last quarter of the 20th century. This is a great scale length – and note the nut width is a typical nut width of a full size classical guitar. And the neck thickness is great – on the thinner side. This combination makes it a joy to play and so easy to play – but the tone is superb. The full tone, and volume are better than most longer scale guitars. • Light weight/construction, that really allows it to sing. Its total weight, with strings, is a remarkably lithe 1430 grams • And it has great combination of woods: • Palo Escrito back and sides, bridge, and headplate veneer. DALBERGIA PALOESCRITO, is a true rosewood, a great wood that over the years came to be favored by the top luthiers in Paracho – for their top models. It sounds like Brazilian rosewood, but a tad different, and it’s not as “dark” in tone as Indian rosewood. Palo Escrito is lighter in weight and density than either brazilian or Indian rosewood. And weight, is of course part of the equation of a guitar that does translate to tone. Palo Escrito makes this guitar really breathe, and resonate. The lighter weight of this guitar is its charm, that translates to tone – slightly more airy and open, less “closed”, and with full round basses. The tone is clear, with superb string separation, as from the best spruce over rosewood guitars. Surprising volume – but it perhaps produces the best tone, in more delicate playing where you want each note to stand out – that’s of course called good “string separation”: the notes in a run or chord don’t all “blend together” but each note is discernable. And we think it’s accurate to say that this guitar, with its light weight and 648 scale length and combination of woods, has a tone that leans to a great Flamenco negra tone. Fast attack on the trebles, with a touch of growl in the bass when you play them hard. Yet the guitar responds very well to a light touch as well. If you’re looking for another ho-hum, non-descript spruce over Indian rosewood classical tone, this instrument is not for you. • Spruce top – European Alpine spruce • Ebony fingerboard • Ebony reinforcing strips, back of neck • Ebony heel cap • Beautiful rosette, with a hearts & rope pattern (another homage to Bernabe). • Palo Escrito is also used in the binding, back center strip, tie block, and purfling • The headstock shape is an homage to Paulino Bernabe. • Fan strutting, with 5 braces. The braces are very thin, and also scalloped – contributing to the great tone of the instrument. The scale length of the guitar, if it's not on the longer side, allows the luthier to be use more delicate bracing, adding to tone. (Longer scale length guitars produce more tension on the top due to the higher string tension inherent in a longer scale, so luthiers typically have to brace more strongly with longer scale lengths.) • And there is unique, 2-rosewood cleat application under the bridge – one cleat added by Caro at time of construction, on either end of the bridge, on the underside of top, for stability of the top wood beneath the bridge ends. It's worked well. • Good saddle height– and the neck is very straight, and there will never be any neck bowing issues or issue with too high action. Condition: 100% crack-free All original, thin lacquer finish Frets, and fretboard show very little wear A few nicks and dings, and a small amount of fingernail marks in the “pick guard” area. Overall, the condition is what you’d expect from an instrument that’s been played, carefully, for maybe a year, not 20+ years. But the tone is aged, open, clear – benefiting from more than two decades of aging and drying of the woods. Scale length: 648mm Nut Width: 52mm (2 2/32 inches) String spacing at nut: 45mm (1 ¾ inches) Width at lower bout: 14 ¼ inches Body depth, at bottom: 4 inches Body depth, at neck/body joint: 3 ¾ inches Weight (fully strung): 1430 grams (3.15 pounds) In a modern, hard shell case. Price: $4,750.
  • A beautiful 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. Like most Martin ukes, the mahogany bridge had some wear on the string slots. So we created a new, replacement, 100% historically correct replacement bridge. 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.
  • 6:1 ratio pre war Grovers, mid-1930's. As used on Martin pre-war dreadoaught guitars. Oval buttons, bevelled edges on the baseplate. Just one button has some missing chrome on one side (see photos). With bushings, and mounting screws. No bent shafts. Good working condition. Price: $795.
  • This is a superb sounding 5 string banjo. Quoting George Gruhn in “The Vintage Catalogue”– “During the banjo boom of the 1920s, many musicians considered Bacon & Day to be the finest banjo maker of the time. Their instruments were prized for their exceptional volume and cutting power, as well as for their beautiful craftsmanship… we can only speculate what might have happened if Earl Scruggs, Don Reno, or some other well-known bluegrass player had used a Bacon & Day model.” • 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 very 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. • 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 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 case. Price: $3950.
  • Out of stock
    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 .... No longer available....
  • Very rare, early Jerome guitar tuners, made in France. Rare kidney buttons, as seen on higher end Martin guitars from the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860's. Plates, shafts and buttons only. No posts or worm gears (there is one post and one worm gear). Price: $595.