This month I had the pleasure of taking a guitar-centric, weeklong vacation to Philadelphia. I have a good friend who heads the violin restoration department at Vintage Instruments, a longstanding shop that deal in fine violins, guitars, mandolins, and banjos. The owner, Fred Oster, has a vast knowledge of historic instruments, and has done an excellent job gathering an impressive array of classic examples. If you’re interested in a Gibson or Martin guitar made between 1916 and 1960, you could not find a better place to find one. If you’d like to play a Banner-Head Gibson, there are a half-dozen to chose from. If you like a Gibson L-OO, there are a baker’s dozen. If you aren’t in the market, you will soon be after visiting. It felt as though I were stepping back through time, to a place where amazing, golden-era guitars are readily accessible, where you might be able to strum a big E Major on a ’37 D-18, then set it down and try a ’35 D-18, a ’35 Gibson Jumbo, and a ’39 Herringbone. I can tell you, my heart was beating rapidly throughout my visit. The goal of my trip was to soak up as much first-hand experience with pre-WWII American guitars as possible. It was a complete success!
I was able to take lots of notes of early Gibson construction, feel, and finish, and will certainly be creating new instruments that reflect the great old guitars I witnessed at Vintage Instruments.