• 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.
  • 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....
  • 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....
  • This full-size violin, is a wonderful example of New England whaler culture of the 19th century. The violin itself is probably German made, early 1800’s, with maple back and sides. But the whale inlays (bone) on the fingerboard were no doubt done locally in New England. And the custom, hand made wood case, original to the instrument, also features a brass whale on the top. (Note, the brass handle on the case, is the exact kind used by CF Martin on their coffin cases for guitars in the mid-19th century.) The bridge, and tailpiece are modern. Bone inlays on the tuning pegs also. The instrument is fully set up and ready to play. Price: $2150. In its original wood case, with a brass whale inlay on top.
  • Out of stock
    A rare and amazingly original English, Tunbridge ware fretless 7 string banjo. Circa 1850-60. This instrument is 100% original, and even the tailpiece is the original brass tailpiece. This banjo is also rare in that it has original geared tuning machines, not pegs like other examples from the period. The Tunbridge ware banjo is almost impossible to find in this condition and stage of originality. And Tunbridge’s are rare, period. The history? After Joel Sweeney – born to a farming family in Appomattox, Virginia and claimed to have learned to play the banjo from local African population, and the earliest known person to have played the banjo on stage – embarked on a European tour that included stops in London and Edinburgh. He played there for several months, and raised awareness of the instrument in England. As in the U.S., banjos began to be made by local craftsmen – they were still hand made and came in all shapes and sizes, with 5, 6, 7 and even 12 strings, and with one or more drone strings, sometimes on both sides of the neck. Only a few, best ones, such as this instrument, had an amazing amount of work put into them, none more so than those made by a very few firms centered around Tunbridge Wells in Kent, where the local craftsmen specialized in producing a particular form of Treen ware, made from up to 180 different colored woods. Holly, cherry, plum, yew, sycamore, and even imported lignum vitae were all used. The technique was to bind short lengths together and glue them into bundles so when viewed end on, a pattern or picture could be seen. Instrument length: 34 inches. With a 12 inch pot. Eight tensioners and shoes, all original. Original, rare circa 1850 German brass machine tuners (one bent shaft– but still operates perfectly). Original brass tailpiece. Fingerboard, and pot, consisting of inlaid woods as geometric patterns. All the inlays are intact. $2450. In a modern case.
  • This Banjo has a unique tone, that only comes from a Gretsch Die-cast metal shell/flange construction, prewar banjo. But it’s rare to see these banjos in anything other than tenor. This one is a rare, original 5 string configuration, and has a nice “Gretsch growl” (a term that some drummers use to describe Gretsch drums). Wonderful, dark tone, with bell-like high notes. And with a bit of sustain that is reminiscent of a prewar Dobro guitar. Growl, plus sustain, and ringing highs – only from a Gretsch prewar banjo. Pearloid heastock overlay. 11 inch head. 26 inch scale length. 22-fret Brazilian rosewood fingerboard, with dot markers. Walnut neck, and resonator. Top tension head adjustment with 20 lugs. Original calf skin head. Price: $750.
  • Full size, Charles Fetique violin (French, early 20th century – circa 1930), with original label inside. This is a rich, sonorous instrument. A deep, round tone, that – like all good violins – does not make you work overly hard to attain. It has a darker, lush, round tone that professional players love – and great projection. We recently A-B'd this instrument against $5k+ violins in the area, and there was no comparison, this instrument was louder, more full, more round and full in the bass notes, and all around a stellar performer. This violin would be a great student violin upgrade – for that aspiring violinist who is ready to graduate to, and enjoy, a better instrument than what's typically available in the $4-5K range, at a very attractive price. And, the buyer will have the confidence of both a Letter of Expertise, and a professional appraisal: • Certificate: Jean-Jacques Rampal, Paris, 2014. (This is the letter of expertise, on this violin, from one of the top experts on French Violins, in Paris, France). And: • Written, professional appraisal of the violin, done from personal inspection, from one of the top violin shops/experts in Texas (Jay R. Rury Violins, Dallas), with a valuation of $3,500.00 Both the above documents will be included with the sale. The violin is in excellent condition. There are no sound post, or bass bar cracks. It was professionally set up to play, by Blackerby Violin in Austin. In a modern Tonerelli case. Price: $3250.
  • Pre-war Kluson tuners from the 1930's. Amber buttons. These are rare tuners that came on some of the nice Gibsons of the era, such as a few Gibson J35's. Good working condition. Price: $295. – on Hold
  • Even more rare, early Jerome’s, made in France. Circa 1840 -1850. Unusual design. Missing one post/worm gear. Damage to one worm gear bracket. Price: $795.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.