Manufacturer's Vintage I

John D'Angelico (1905-64) built exceptionally fine archtop guitars for some of the 20th century's greatest musicians in his workshop located in Manhattan's Little Italy. New York's art deco architecture inspired D'Angelico's distinctive guitar designs, which he developed in the early 1930s. By the late 1930s, D'Angelico settled on two models, the New Yorker and the Excel, which became his mainstays of production for the remainder of his career. Many guitarists consider D'Angelico guitars built during the 1950s the ultimate instruments for playing chord-melody styles. John D'Angelico's elegant instruments frequently appeared on the silver screen.

  James L. D'Aquisto (1935-95) started his career by tending to the D'Angelico shop in the early 1950s. As D'Angelico's health began to fail in the late 50s, D'Aquisto assisted him with instrument construction. After John D'Angelico died in 1964, D'Aquisto constructed his own guitars, which resembled those made by D'Angelico. In 1988, D'Aquisto developed the Modernistic Series beginning with the Avant Garde, co-designed by Hank Risan. The Modernistic Series is a radical departure in style and design from his earlier models.

   Epiphone began manufacturing high-quality guitars in the late 1920s, but back then the company was best known for producing decorative Recording-series banjos and guitars. The banjo declined in popularity during the late 1920s, and, consequently, Epiphone retooled their factory in order to focus on manufacturing guitars. In the 1930s and 40s Epiphone was best known for the Emperor and Deluxe models. Epiphone's outstanding guitars were a prime choice for influential artists like Johnny Smith and Nappy Lamare.

In 1946 Leo Fender started a musical revolution when he established the Fender Electric Instrument Co. A few years later, he began work on an avant-garde solidbody electric that single-handedly re-defined the shape and design of modern electric fretted instruments. Fender's Telecaster and Stratocaster are world renown because of their superb engineering, aesthetics, playability, and tonal versatility. Much of the music that dominated the latter half of the 20th century was played on these beloved instruments. Guitarists like Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Jimi Hendrix are only a few of the many artists who shaped the development of modern music using these mass-produced, machine-age instruments.

Orville H. Gibson (1856-1918) started making guitars in the 1890's and the company bearing his name has enjoyed tremendous success as an innovator since its formation in 1902. For nearly a century, Gibson has worked closely with a multitude of professional musicians, engineers, and designers to develop a wide range of stylish instruments that have been used to play and create music ranging from ragtime to rap.

 Freidrich Gretsch founded the Gretsch company in New York in 1883 to manufacture banjos, drums, and tambourines. In the late 1930s, Gretsch developed their innovative Synchromatic series of archtop guitars featuring distinctive cats-eye sound holes. Gretsch electric solidbody and hollowbody guitars built in the 1950s and 60s are considered some of the finest guitars the company ever made. Celebrities such as Chet Atkins, George Van Eps, Mary Osborne and Brian Setzer were proud endorsers of Gretsch guitars.

  August and Carl Larson began building instruments in Chicago in the late 1890s for Robert Maurer, a retailer and music teacher. Maurer sold his shop to August Larson in 1900. Larson-built instruments were distributed under the following names: Champion, Wack, Stahl, Maurer, Dyer, Prairie State, Euphonon, Hispania, and others. They crafted custom instruments for many luminaries, including Gene Autry, Les Paul, and Patsy Montana. Larson instruments' "built under tension" style of construction gives them a loud, clear, and projecting sound. Gifted with exceptional creative genius, the Larson brothers made each instrument they built into a masterpiece featuring rich tone, innovative design, and attractive visual appeal.

  Semie Moseley was born in Oklahoma in 1935, but he spent his formative years growing up in Bakersfield, California. Moseley found work in Southern California's Rickenbacker factory, but he returned to Bakersfield to begin building guitars on his own in the mid 1950s. The Ventures, one of the biggest rock groups of the early 1960s, liked the Mosrite guitar so much that they offered to go into business with Moseley and endorse his instruments. In late 1968, Mosrite was forced to shut down due to a bad business decision to manufacturer amplifiers, which were of substandard quality. Moseley established a number of short-lived business relationships after that debacle and toured the country in a converted Greyhound bus.