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1936 Gretsch Artist Model 150

Status: For pricing and hold status for this instrument, please check our Instruments page here. If this instrument does not appear on the Instruments page it has been sold, and is no longer available. Photos and descriptions of Previously Sold instruments may by found here. To be notified of examples of this or any other model in the future, please contact [email protected].

Serial #: 3840, stamped at top of headstock

Body size at lower bout: 16". Scale length: 24 3/4" Nut Width: 1 3/4" Body depth: 3"

Materials: Handcarved bookmatched solid spruce top; solid maple neck, solid figured maple back and sides, solid ebony fingerboard, ornate engraved pearl peghead and fingerboard inlay; triple bound fingerboard and body.

Hardware: Original hardware includes hand-engraved bound tortoise pickguard, engraved gold Gretsch logo trapeze tailpiece, compensated adjustable Brazilian rosewood bridge. Vintage correct hand antiqued 18X1 gold Grover Sta-Tite open back tuners.

Notes: Founded in Brooklyn in 1883, the Gretsch company built its reputation on drums and banjos, before introducing a full line of archtop guitars in 1933. With no less than eight different models (including a tenor) listed in the '34 Gretsch catalog, it is quite remarkable how few of these historic instruments surface today. Indeed, this early example of the Model 150 is the very first we have had the pleasure to offer. (Regular visitors may note that our poster boy on our Instruments page is holding a Gretsch Model 250, of which only a single example has been found to date.)

The very top of the Gretsch line when it was introduced, the Artist Model 150 was comparable in catalog position to the Gibson L-5 and Epiphone Deluxe. With its extravagantly engraved pearl peghead and hand-engraved pickguard, the Artist Model 150 was one of the most ornate archtop guitars produced by any American manufacturer. Offered only until 1938, its Depression era timing and high cost made for a tiny production run: it is estimated that only some 7 surviving examples are now known to exist. So rare is this model that it has never yet been listed in any edition of the Vintage Guitar 'Blue Book' to date.

With its full-depth 16" body and all carved construction, the Model 150 shares the delicate f-holes and pointed fretboard finial of the early L-5, along with grained ivoroid binding and a steel reinforced neck with solid ebony fingerboard. Gretsch ads boasted of 'cello grade' tonewoods, a claim that and the finely bookmatched flame maple body on this guitar amply supports, and the solid quartersawn spruce top is hand graduated with parallel bracing.

The guitar has been well maintained, with all original finish and binding, and the body shows no cracks or repairs. (A small crack on one side of the neck heel is solid and does not extend through the heel.) The finish shows typical playwear for an instrument of its vintage, with some spot lacquer touchup on some nicks and scratches, without overspray or refinish. The ornate floral motif engraved pickguard, bridge and tailpiece are all original, with the addition of vintage correct hand antiqued gold Grover butterbean tuners. With a recent pro neck set and fresh precision fretwork, the guitar plays smoothly over a classic full prewar C profile neck, and the tone is bright and punchy with excellent projection.

One of the rarest of all prewar American archtops, the Artist Model 150 is a truly remarkable piece of history; the capstone to any Gretsch collection, and an essential addition to any comprehensive survey of classic guitars of the Swing Era. Call now.

Setup: The frets have been precision leveled, recrowned and polished; trussrod tension and neck relief adjusted; bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge foot contour inspected and fit to top as necessary; bridge radius inspected and recurved as necessary; bridge wheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.

Case: Deluxe prewar black arched 'red line' plush lined hardshell case.


















































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