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1937 Cromwell EG-5
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Factory Order #: 214C-23
Body size at lower bout: 16" Scale length: 24 3/4" Nut width: 1 3/4"
Materials: Solid carved spruce top; arched maple back and sides, solid one-piece mahogany neck, solid Brazilian rosewood fingerboard with inlaid centerstripe; bound body.
Hardware: Original hardware includes straight blade single coil pickup with brown bakelite knobs, adjustable Brazilian rosewood bridge, Grover open back tuners with oval ivoroid keys, nickel trapeze tailpiece, bound and notched tortoise pickguard.
Notes: How rare is rare? We've specialized in archtop guitars for over three decades, and until this little wonder came over the transom, we'd never even heard of this model, much less seen one in real life.
In order to supply a wider range of retailers with Gibson-made instruments, the firm began in the late 20's to produce a number of 'house brand' models for various wholesalers and distributors. Among the best known of these was Cromwell, which offered a number of models built in parallel to the Gibson's most popular instruments. Built on the same production lines and by the same craftsmen as the Gibson brand instruments, these instruments differed principally in ornamentation from the firm's entry-to-midrange models.
Within months of Gibson's introduction of the pioneering ES-150 'Charlie Christian' electric guitar, production began on the EG-5, Cromwell's top-line model. Like its Gibson counterpart, the EG-5 was built with a solid carved X-braced spruce soundboard, and the revolutionary new bar magnet pickup. Scale length, nut width and body size were identical as well, along with a whimsical firestripe pickguard with bound notch. The centerstripe fingerboard is a signature Cromwell appointment, and the original 'basket-weave' bakelite knobs are pure deco delight.
This rare example bears a Gibson factory order number from 1937, and is listed in Spann's Guide on p.146. It was built in the first year of this model's scant two-year production run, with a bright yellow label from New York Band Instruments, Gibson's largest prewar NY retailer. The instrument has been maintained in remarkable condition, with all-original binding and Gibson's classic Cremona sunburst finish. The pickup is the original 'straight-bar' type of the very earliest Gibson electrics, with the inimitable sound of the Goodman band in full swing: clear and sparkling in the unimpeded highs, and warm and growly when rolled off through an old tube amp. And the X-braced solid carved top gives an acoustic tone that is noteworthy in an electric instrument.
The neck has the traditional prewar full "V" profile, and the original frets are in fine shape, ready to play with smooth low action. The volume and tone controls have been upgraded with smooth fresh audio-taper pots, the bridge wheels replaced, and a single hairline crack at the end of the fingerboard has been cleated and resealed decades ago. Even the original hardshell case remains with this remarkable guitar.
At last: true Charlie Christian tone, at a working player's price. An exceptional find, and one of Gibson's rarest creations. One only: call now.
Setup: 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.
This instrument is strung with medium gauge nickel strings (.013-.057). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 5/64" to 6/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.
Case: Original arched brown plush lined hardshell case.