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Help with vintage Gibson


Craigoklahoma
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My parents were cleaning out my grandmas house recently and my mom noticed a guitar. My Dad recognized it as his Dads and said that his Dad bought it when he was a kid. My Dad said that it had to be in the 30’s when he purchased it. I realized that it was a tenor Guitar. They just brought it home from Texas for me to have. I have no ideas about it. There are no markings except on the inside at the bottom of the neck,(forgive me if that has a name) there is a number “145.” If anyone has any ideas, that would be great. 

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I know little about Gibson's tenor guitars, but this is really sweet. The serial number says 1931-1934. The bound fretboard details and fancy headstock inlays says it is a high-end guitar.

It looks to be in very nice condition, so don't mess with it.

Someone here will know exactly what it is.

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Beautiful guitar.  I suggest you call Gruhn Guitars in Nashville and tell them about your find.  Over the phone they should be able to tell you more about it as well as give you a general price range of what a similar guitar sells for in the vintage guitar market.  They should be able to do so for free although if you want the instrument specifically appraised they will charge a fee.  But, general talk there is usually free.  
 

If you call them, let us know what they tell you.  Gruhn Guitars is pretty much the vintage guitar experts.

 

Again, beautiful guitar!

 

QM aka “Jazzman” Jeff 

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1 hour ago, QuestionMark said:

Beautiful guitar.  I suggest you call Gruhn Guitars in Nashville and tell them about your find.  Over the phone they should be able to tell you more about it as well as give you a general price range of what a similar guitar sells for in the vintage guitar market.  They should be able to do so for free although if you want the instrument specifically appraised they will charge a fee.  But, general talk there is usually free.  
 

If you call them, let us know what they tell you.  Gruhn Guitars is pretty much the vintage guitar experts.

 

Again, beautiful guitar!

 

QM aka “Jazzman” Jeff 

Love Gruhn's. I wasn't allowed upstairs.

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In the1931-34 period Gibson offered both carved top and flattop tenors plus a long scale plectrum version.  With the body binding and fancy doodad on the headstock I agree it is a TG-1.   

Here is a link to a site which has scans of Gibson catalogs from 1903 to 1978.  You might be able to find it in there.

https://acousticmusic.org/research/guitar-information/catalogs/

Edited by zombywoof
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Just called Gruhns in Nashville. They told me I could get an appraisal and information on it for $75. I’m going to do that tonight. Honestly, if it’s worth over $1500, I will probably give it back to him because he didn’t know what he was giving me. It would be his inheritance. Will let you all know. Thank you all!

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9 hours ago, Craigoklahoma said:

Just called Gruhns in Nashville. They told me I could get an appraisal and information on it for $75. I’m going to do that tonight. Honestly, if it’s worth over $1500, I will probably give it back to him because he didn’t know what he was giving me. It would be his inheritance. Will let you all know. Thank you all!


Be great if you’d share with us what Gruhn Guitars tells you about the guitar.  It’s a really cool guitar.

Keep us posted if you will!  Much appreciated!

 

QM aka “Jazzman” Jeff

 

 


 

Edited by QuestionMark
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I agree with the 31-34 TG-1 guess.  That year is mostly based on its burst.  Its FON is not in Spann's book, so it is not a documented batch.

Here is its later, cheaper cousin.  1936 burst, it is a Kalamazoo KT-14.  This was the Gibson budget brand -- yours should be x-braced, whereas mine is ladder braced.

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The 2020 VG PRICE GUIDE says 1500-2000 retail.  Yours looks like it is qualified for top $$ -- wholesale would be 66%.

Good luck.

-Tom

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just the important parts——

 I have examined the attached photos of the instrument described below, but have not seen the instrument itself. Below is my estimate, based on these photos, of the instrument’s value; however, it is not possible to judge from photos alone the exact state of originality and need of repair, so my appraisal is only accurate insofar as the photos are representative of the actual condition of the instrument.

 

We certify the instrument described below is, in our opinion, a Gibson TG-1 model tenor guitar, made in the year 1931.

 

Description: We have been provided the following information: “My grandpa purchased it as a teenager.” Factory order number (FON): 145 – ink-stamped on interior at neck block. Upon examination, we note that this tenor guitar appears cosmetically and structurally to be in excellent condition. This instrument conforms to the typical specifications of the model for the period in which it was made with 12 ½” wide flat-top body, Adirondack spruce top with sunburst finish and X-bracing, mahogany back and sides with dark brown finish, triple-ply white/black/white soundhole rosette, rectangular Brazilian rosewood bridge, white bridge pins, elevated celluloid tortoiseshell grain pickguard, mahogany neck with adjustable truss-rod, classic “open-book” peghead shape, Grover “pancake” tuners with grained ivoroid buttons, mother-of-pearl script “Gibson” logo and style 3 Banjo peghead inlays, 19-fret Brazilian rosewood fingerboard (12 frets clear of the body) with mother-of-pearl dot inlays, and single-ply white edge binding on fingerboard and body top and bottom. We were unable to make an in-hand assessment of the bridge plate, internal bracing and kerfing, but for the purposes of this appraisal we assume them to be correct (no diagnostically relevant photos of these interior components were provided to Gruhn Guitars). No information concerning a case was provided to Gruhn Guitars.

 

Current market value: $2,500 (two thousand five hundred dollars)

This appraisal assumes that there are no problems with neck-set angle, frets, loose bracing or bridge (issues which are not always readily visible in photographs). On acoustic flat-top guitars over 30 years of age we urge careful inspection since these are common issues on older instruments and repairs can be expensive.

 

 

 

About Us

 

George Gruhn

Gruhn moved to Nashville in 1969 after getting his bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and doing graduate work at Duke University and the University of Tennessee. In 1970, he established Gruhn Guitars, which is today one of the largest dealers of vintage and used instruments in the world. The "guitar guru" has been a featured columnist for Vintage Guitar, Guitar Player, Pickin', Frets, and Bluegrass Unlimited. He is the former executive vice president of research and development for Guild Guitars and designed several models for Tacoma guitars. When Gruhn took up an interest in guitars at college, he began to apply a systematic scientific approach to musical instruments. This was a new way to approach vintage guitars, banjos, and mandolins, making Gruhn an acknowledged leader in his field. He is the co-author of Gruhn's Guide to Vintage Guitars, which is the comprehensive field guide to vintage fretted instruments, and the companion volumes Acoustic Guitars and Other Fretted Instruments and Electric Guitars and Basses. His articles have been published in numerous magazines.

 

Joe Spann

Gruhn Guitars appraiser Joe Spann is a life-long student of the guitar and five-string banjo. He is a 1981 graduate of Florida Southern College and a 2005 diplomate of the National Institute on Genealogical Research at the National Archives, Washington D.C. Between 1981 and 1990 he was a professional touring musician, and also worked in central Florida theme parks and recording studios.  For over 20 years he was the director of the Polk County Historical & Genealogical Library, and played a significant role in helping it achieve a reputation as a leading US research center. His lifelong study of the Gibson guitar company resulted in the 2011 publication of Spann’s Guide to Gibson 1902-1941, a book which is now recognized world-wide as one of the most respected standard references on the topic. Working at Gruhn Guitars since 2015, he has collaborated with George Gruhn to produce appraisals for many well-known performers and together they have co-authored over three dozen published articles.

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2 hours ago, Craigoklahoma said:

Thank you all for your help and suggestions. Gruhn was very quick with the appraisal. I submitted photos, description, and $75. Very happy with them.

Great reading the appraisal and the appraisal approach by Gruhn’s Guitars.  $2500 market value!  Wow!   All really quite cool!   Great to read!  And, thanks for sharing!
 

Welcome to the world of vintage guitars and to the forum!

QM aka “Jazzman” Jeff

 

Edited by QuestionMark
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Remember that Gruhn's appraisal assumes no issues that need repair, which is not usually the case with a guitar of this age. Take that value number as the top end, not the bottom end.

Tenor guitars have a far narrower market than a conventional six-string, but there are people who collect and play them. One of the more famous "modern" tenor players was the late Nick Reynolds of the Kingston Trio.

Anyhow, it's a great guitar with a wonderful family history. Take care of it, and get a proper case for it if it doesn't have one.

There are probably online forums for fans of the tenor guitar.

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Would any of you get it cleaned or restring it to play? Just curious what you all would do with that information. Should I keep it how it is and put it away? I’ve played guitar my entire life and always cared for my guitars but I’m unsure in this situation. Selling it isn’t an option now or maybe ever. 

Edited by Craigoklahoma
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On 6/16/2020 at 2:07 PM, Craigoklahoma said:

Just called Gruhns in Nashville. They told me I could get an appraisal and information on it for $75. I’m going to do that tonight. 

 

Must be inflation.  Last time I had a long distance appraisal  done by Gruhns it cost me $35.  Can't complain though as the appraisal on that particular guitar came to $10K. 

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56 minutes ago, Craigoklahoma said:

Would any of you get it cleaned or restring it to play? Just curious what you all would do with that information. Should I keep it how it is and put it away? I’ve played guitar my entire life and always cared for my guitars but I’m unsure in this situation. Selling it isn’t an option now or maybe ever. 

 

Unless you are used to cleaning vintage finishes, I would not go much beyond wiping down the a slightly dampened rag. (tpbiii here might chime in, as he probably has more guitars from this period than almost anyone else here.)

Re-string it and play it, by all means. I might start with lighter strings, like the D'Addarios on the website below. Make sure the bridge is tight on the guitar when you start loading the strings

Here is a link to the tenor guitar strings page a juststrings.com, where I buy most of my strings:

tenor guitar strings

 

Edited by j45nick
added additional thought
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From what I’ve seen of Gruhn’s appraisals, their values strike me as how they would price the instrument if it were for sale at Gruhn’s (and exactly as described in the estimate).

That certainly seems like a legitimate way to approach doing an estimate, but I think it’s important to remember that buying from Gruhn’s comes with the added value of knowing the instrument will be essentially 100% as described - and to many players, that’s well worth a reasonable up-charge.

On the other hand, buying off of Reverb at real world prices, I would expect most instruments to bring significantly less than Gruhn’s “ideal” estimates.

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