NOTE: These are not our guitars; just saving the images for history and showcasing what's out there.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

1945 Stromberg Master 400 Archtop

via this auction
"Formerly owned by Marty Grosz

Here is a unique chance to acquire an extremely rare and legendary instrument of the jazz age - at an affordable price.

The guitar was made by Elmer Stromberg in 1945. If features a whooping 19 inches wide body, which is, however surprisingly easy to hold and play due to the deep carving of top and back of the instrument.

Other specs as typical of this hand made top-of-the-line model, such as short scale, 1 11/16 neck width, label with serial number inside.

At one point in its life, somebody installed a bridge pickup. Hence the top restauration and subsequent refinish of the guitar.

The work was done by one of the best repairmen in the world, Germany’s Thomas Amberger. He used not only 60 years old spruce to fill the hole where the pickup once was and a second tiny one where the volume used to be, but succeed in finding a piece of old wood that totally matched the grain width of the surrounding top wood – hence the repair is practically invisible. He also produced a nitrocellulose finish of the finest quality, so thin you cannot believe it, and perfectly matching the original sunburst colour.

The guitar features its original gold plated tailpiece and the wonderful handcrafted bridge, as well as the typical goldplated stairstep tuners (a bit worn, but work perfectly well).

For those interested in the history of jazz music, it will be a nice extra bonus to learn that this instrument was once owned and played professionally by Marty Grosz, the preeminent keeper of the flame of chord-melody playing in the tradition of Carl Kress, Dick McDonough and other pioneers of jazz guitar. The original case still has Marty’s address written in it, and there are two letters by Marty in which he explains to a previous owner that he used it in the 1970s when playing with “Soprano Summit”. Another nice extra is a live CD of this group which was released only recently in which this guitar can be heard sounding exquisitely in Marty’s expert hands. The CD’s booklet features several photos of Marty holding the guitar – although in its pre-restored state with the pickup still installed.

As Marty mentions in his letter that the guitar was at one point worked at by a certain Jimmy D’Aquisto, there is a possibility the neck was replaced by the latter. Although it could be original too, having owned and played several D’Aquisto instruments, I think to detect features that make me think it likely he crafted the neck. In which case this particular instrument would arguably the only one in existence that represented a collaboration of two of the three greatest archtop makers in history."

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