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1950 Crafton Model 75
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Serial #: 17165, stamped on to of headstock
Body size at lower bout: 18 5/8" (470 mm) Scale length: 24 3/4" (630 mm) Nut width: 1 3/4" (45mm) Body depth: 3 1/2" (90 mm)
Materials: Handcarved bookmatched solid Alpine spruce top; solid carved bookmatched rock maple back; solid maple sides and neck, solid ebony fingerboard with mother of pearl block inlay; floral pearl peghead inlay; 3-ply body, neck, head and pickguard binding, triple bound soundholes.
Hardware: All original gold hardware, including engraved Crafton logo tuners, Frequensator style tailpiece, adjustable compensated ebony bridge, bound tortoise pickguard.
Notes: The term 'unique' is surely among the most overworked in the entire English language. But we've seen no instrument that better deserves the term than the one presented here.
It's long been our observation that among European archtop builders of the postwar era, the Swedes consistently outpaced their counterparts on the Continent. This is no doubt due to the pioneering influence of the great Herman Levin, who learned his craft late in the 19th century in New York City. Returning home, Levin became the pre-eminent European manufacturer of quality steel string instruments in the 20th century. Which is why we were delighted to find that Levin's influence extended to at least one other quality builder in their home town of Gothenburg.
With the invaluable assistance of Rikard Magnevill at Vintage Guitars in Stockholm, we've learned that the Crafton brand was created in 1945 by Waidele Musik, a prominent Gothenburg instrument retailer. Remaining in operation until 1962, the factory is said to have produced some 35,000 instruments, including guitars of all types, in addition to mandolins and lutes. This extraordinary instrument, the Model 75, was their top of the line offering, whose production was limited to a mere 19 examples. The influence of Levin is clearly evident in the outstanding fit, finish and tone of the instrument, but the overall design is utterly original, and clearly a Crafton innovation from stem to stern.
Eclectic in design, the Model 75 shows features drawn from some of the most iconic archtops of the classic era. At an enormous 18 5/8" at the lower bout, it is larger than both the Super 400 and D'Angelico New Yorker, and just shy of the Stromberg Master 400, the largest production archtop ever made. The center-dip headstock echoes that of the Epiphone Emperor, along with the gold dual-tine tailpiece, derived from the Epi Frequensator, and engraved with the Crafton logo. Most distinctive is the cutaway, executed in a remarkable Florentine scroll. Adapted from Orville Gibson's F model mandolin, the scroll is opposite its customary position on the instrument, and both carved and bound to its center: a small masterwork of the luthier's craft. Finally, the soundhole design is completely original, and perhaps influenced by early viol family instruments of the Renaissance era.
The Model 75 is carved of all solid European tonewoods, handsomely inlaid, and fitted with all gold hardware. The soundboard is carved to exceptionally fine tolerances, and is beautifully bookmatched of solid Alpine spruce. At just 6 lb. 4 oz. (2.88 kg) the guitar is exceptionally lightweight for a super jumbo body, and nimbly balanced in the lap or on the strap. The neck has a solid, full C profile, with smooth low action over fine original fretwork, and a generous 1 3/4" ebony fingerboard. Maintained in wonderful condition, the instrument shows all original finish and hardware, including the engraved Crafton tuners with their unique tuning fork logo. Even the original bound tortoise pickguard remains in fine condition, and was once notched for a floating pickup. A single hairline crack at the top of the bass soundhole has been soundly resealed long ago, and otherwise the instrument shows no other signs of repair.
While any instrument of this rarity and distinctiveness would be of great interest to the collector, be assured this guitar is no mere wall hanger. We are happy to report that it has a voice every bit as massive as its parallel braced super jumbo body. Clear, open and thunderingly resonant, the voice has the volume and projection to face down any horn section with aplomb.
Amaze your friends. Confound the trombones. Grab this astounding piece of history while you can. One only: call now.
Setup: This instrument is strung with medium gauge nickel strings (.013-.056). 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 deluxe black arched plush lined hardshell case.
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