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Gruhn's Guide to Vintage Guitars 2nd Edition (Softcover) Paperback – June 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 582 pages
  • Publisher: Backbeat Books; 2 edition (June 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879304227
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879304225
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 5.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #356,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Authors George Gruhn and Walter Carter are no strangers to fretted instruments: Gruhn runs one of the best vintage instrument stores in the country, and Carter was Gibson's company historian for several years in the 1990s. In the second edition to Gruhn's Guide to Vintage Guitars, the pair have created a useful resource for any lover of fine guitars, banjos, or basses. Though not a price guide, the book will enable collectors to identify the date, stock ingredients, wood, and evolution of their Fender, Martin, Gibson, Gretsch, or Mosrite axes, to name just a few. Many readers will probably want to complement this book with a separate price guide (The Official Vintage Guitar Magazine Price Guide is recommended), and it should be noted that many mass-market manufacturers (Kay, for instance) were left out. But with this book you'll at least know that the stock Epiphone Madrid you bought on the Internet is, in fact, truly stock. A great resource for lovers of collectable six-strings. --Jason Verlinde

From Library Journal

The market for vintage American guitars, basses, amplifiers, banjos, ukuleles, and other fretted instruments has exploded in the last decade. This updated and expanded second edition of Gruhn's Guide is more than double the size of its first edition (1992) and is superior in breadth, depth, and timeliness. The guide is organized by manufacturer and type of instrument. Every model is described in detail, with introduction date, body shape and size, woods, pickups (where applicable), bindings, inlays, and finish. All changes made from year to year are noted, ensuring the precise determination of model and originality. The book also provides serial number lists, identification charts, and over 100 photos of special features. While many books on individual instrument makers are available, this is the only guide that lists all makers and all their products while also offering comments about the collectibility of specific instruments. Highly recommended.AEric C. Shoaf, Brown Univ. Lib., Providence
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 10, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book is not a price guide, but is extremely valuable for identifying used and vintage instruments.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
The 2nd edition of Gruhn's book is one of two books that every guitar collector will want to own. This edition is better than the first with 100 pages of new information. If you own the first edition and have been wondering if you should buy the second edition , buy it. I keep mine within reach of my bench. The second book I would recommend is "The Official Vintage Guitar Magazine Price Guide". Having these two books would make for a very educated consumer.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
I found this reference to be riddled with ommissions and inaccuracies. The Rickenbacker bass section contains errors in almost every model. A simple check of the Rickenbacker website would have corrected the majority of inaccuracies. Production dates were the most obvious. Now if the book was to be filed under "fiction"...
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23 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Joseph H Pierre on August 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
There is no other book, to my knowledge, that does what George Gruhn does here.

First, let me say that I respect Mr. Gruhn's knowledge. There are probably few people in the United States with his encyclopedic knowledge of guitars. I have corresponded with him myself, and he was very helpful

But, I am disappointed in one aspect of the book. I own an 1897 model George Washburn guitar which was made in the nineteenth century by Lyon & Healy. It is a small bodied "Parlor Guitar," with Brazilian rosewood sides and back, spruce top, and ebony fingerboard and bridge. It has beautiful tone, and I love the instrument. It is almost as beautiful as when it was built, and because of the aging of the wood, I'm sure that it plays better.

In this book, Gruhn only briefly discusses Washburn's guitars, and the short reference is buried in the Gibson pages (which is very detailed), because in the late '20s, when the Tonk Brothers acquired the Washburn brand from Lyon & Healy, Gibson built a few of them between 1938-40.

George Washburn (someone has said that his last name was actually Lyon, hence Lyon & Healy) was an American guitar maker, and he built superlative guitars. I've heard that his closest competition at one time was Martin. To give him short-shrift in such a book as this, I find incomprehensible. It isn't as if Gruhn did not know about the guitars--he told me much of what I know about them.

But, perhaps I nitpick. This is a fine book. I recommend it to any guitar aficionado who is buying, selling or trading guitars--especially American-made guitars--or even one who simply wants to learn more about these wonderful instruments.

Joseph Pierre
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mike on January 25, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
George Gruhn has kept the vintage instrument market informed for years when it came to the better known brand names built by American companies. It has a ton of information on Gibson, Martin, Fender and a few others. If you're looking for the less expensive builders like Kay, Harmony, Regal, or Lyon & Healy, you'll have to go elsewhere. While the amount of information here is huge, you can't assume that everything is here. There are instruments that surface yearly that will at expand what we know about vintage instruments. This should be considered the encyclopedia. Use it as a starting point for your search. Serious students of the genre should own this book and remember to watch for the updates that George seems to put out every few years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Julian46 on January 29, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is by now pretty dated. It does have useful info but with a new edition apparently out this April, you really would be better off waiting. The contents are not organized in the simplest or more useful manner but there is no doubt it contains much useful information which I suspect will be true of the new edition also.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By bluesman on July 1, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this tome because I have a few older guitars and amps that I wanted to evaluate. The detail is well done and the range of manufacturers is fairly complete, but I have an old Ventura acoustic that was not listed anywhere. That's my only disappointment. Otherwise, this seems to be fairly definitive.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard J. Boubelik on October 11, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you collect or deal in guitars, there will be times when you say "hmmm.....I wonder about the specifications of this guitar.....is this original?......are these the correct components?......what should it really look like?" or some such musing.

Well, if you have this book, you've just dramatically increased the chances of arriving at the right answer.
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