• Rare Alvarez Whyte Eagle 5 string Banjo very early production


    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 compared to later production Whyte Eagles in the 70's – this is a very rare early one with unique features, described below, and great tone.

    This banjo design is based on:
    • neck/head/inlays: based on the high end Fairbanks Whyte Ladye of the early 20th century– one of the most beautiful designs in banjo history
    • the pot assembly is modeled closely on the Gibson TB3, archtop of the 1930's. In fact it's a remarkable recreation of that design (and sound) – a more faithful recreation that many Gibson post-war versions.

    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 model 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 is 1776), 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 and also on the back of the neck.

    Flamed maple resonator (sunburst back, with some of milkiness to the original finish)

    Maple butterfly neck

    Hand-carved heel

    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.

  • 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....
  • 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 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
    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....
  • 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....
  • Rare set of Seidel Tuners. Seidel tuners, made in Germany in the 19th century, were CF Martin’s tuner of choice for his high-end guitars. You can see these tuners on some rare 1860 – 1880’s Martins– but they are very rare to encounter not married to a guitar. German silver backplates; floral pattern decorations, hand-engraved, The original buttons are of genuine bone. Good working order. Price: $1295.
  • Out of stock
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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). ... no longer available – see the newly listed 1970 Martin D-28 in the Featured Instruments section.
  • This is a great original set, of the famed Handel tuners from the early 20th century. Silver wire and pearl inset. In good condition. One button has a slight chip. Good working order. Price: $495.