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Deep in the earth, hundreds of feet below the sales floor, at the end of a small passageway accessible only by handcar is The Vault. Ok, not really. But that would be so cool. In reality, The Vault is a digital collection of the rarest items to ever pass through our doors. It is a veritable collector’s guide to the 20th century, loaded with some of the most coveted guitars in history. Light a torch and browse at your leisure, but beware. The Vault is not for the faint of heart.
Commonly referred to as "the holy grail," the Les Paul Standard hit its prime in 1959, just one year after its release in 1958. The subtle changes introduced piecemeal in the 1950s seemed to coalesce into a singular tone, feel, and look that made the model irresistible to rock and roll icons like Eric Clapton, Mike Bloomfield, Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, Peter Green, Duane Allman, and more. One look at the Doc's 1959 Les Paul Standard and you'll see why.
1960 brought about more subtle changes to the Les Paul Standard. Gibson made the neck thinner, the frets wider and taller, and switched to a new fade-resistant finish formula. This new formula would retain its color longer, but was also more opaque and more orange than past finishes, changing the Standard's legendary color profile, but just for a time. Gibson would discontinue the single-cut Les Paul later that year, making these models highly desirable. The Doc's 1960 Les Paul Standard is a beautiful example of this model's dark edges and historic color gradient.
The Burst evolved out of Gibson's very first solid-body guitar, the 1952 Les Paul. Issued initially as a Gold Top, the Les Paul got a new look in 1958, when Gibson introduced a new model with a sunburst finish: the Les Paul Standard. Coloring the solid Honduran mahogany bodies with aniline dye, Gibson's Les Paul Standards featured a deep red hue that, with time, would react to ultraviolet light and other environmental conditions to bleed, fade, and otherwise change. Our '59 Burst, '60 Burst, and '60 "Scarface" Burst are excellent examples of this landmark guitar and beautifully illustrate how each early Burst is different from any other, both visually and sonically.
While the Les Paul was changing with almost every year after its initial release, the debut of the Les Paul Standard in 1958 is perhaps the most significant and substantial change to the legendary model, made more so by the 1957 introduction of the humbucker.
Our 1960 Gibson ES-335 Cherry Dot Neck is well-worn, and for a good reason. Blessed with one of the finest sets of PAF humbucking pickups we’ve ever heard, someone couldn’t stop playing it, and we don’t blame them.
In 1959, Gibson produced just 123 ES-355s. An estimated three were finished in Factory Black, making this one of the rarest guitars the manufacturer ever built.
What makes this guitar so special is that it was special ordered from the factory with this Split Parallelogram fingerboard. These are typically found on 345 models but this is a 335 model. It was also special ordered with this Bigsby. All the hardware on this guitar is original. It's got the original wiring harness original Gibson PAF humbucking pickups so it has all of the classic vintage tone if you will that you'd expect to find on guitar of this caliber.
Our marketing man Evan (don’t you call him no intern!) has the honor of showing you what he can do on the most viewed guitar in our entire online inventory: the 1960 Natural Gibson ES-335.
Special-ordered from the factory with a natural finish, split parallelogram inlays, and a Bigsby, this semi-hollow body beauty was once a part of the Chinery collection and is all original down to the wiring harness and PAF humbucking pickups.
There are closet cases, and then there’s this 1962 ES-175. The cleanest PAF-equipped ES-175 we’ve ever had, this 1962 model is spotless from headstock to tailblock.
You’ve never seen a Roy Smeck like this. The neck on this beautiful 1935 Gibson has been converted from Hawaiian to Spanish, taking it off the lap to let its extraordinary feel and old-growth tonewoods shine.
The Rosewood Telecaster was designed by Roger Ross Maisel, who started his career with Rickenbacker and moved to Fender in the mid-'60s. The Beatles began their career playing Rickenbackers, so when Fender gave the prototype to George Harrison, they gave him a guitar that was designed by the very same man. A fitting end as George decided to play it in their last public performance on the Apple Corps rooftop in 1969.
Shelby says there's something in the way this 1970 Rosewood Fender Telecaster moves. Most commonly associated with George Harrison of The Beatles and Traveling Wilburys fame, the Rosewood Telecaster was designed for Fender in the 1960s by former Rickenbacker luthier Roger Rossmeisl.
This 1970 model differs from the original Rossmeisl prototype Fender gave Harrison in that this body is two pieces of rosewood bound together, whereas Harrison's was solid rosewood. But you'll see it weeps just as gently, if not more so. Don't let us down, Shelby.
The neck is from 1957 and because it is from '57 it does have that very subtle and coveted V-neck profile. The body is from '58. Pots from '57. The serial number is from '57/'58 also. Around that time there were Mary Kaye spec Stratocasters as well with the gold hardware as you can see, we got the nickel hardware. If this was a Mary Kaye spec with the gold hardware it would be twice the price. The frets have been rewired with era correct fret wire. The neck has been over-sprayed quite a long time ago and feels very comfortable to play. It also does come with a tweed hard case, the original.
It’s Nathaniel’s lucky day. He pairs our Blonde ‘58 Stratocaster with a ‘57 Princeton Tweed and the rest, they say, is history as he takes us on a tour through time beginning with The Everly Brothers’ classic, “All I Have To Do Is Dream”, released in April 1958.
Manufactured only in 1968 and 1969, the Paisley Telecasters are named for their distinctive finish, which is actually a piece of wallpaper Fender affixed to the body and then covered with a clear coat. This particular Paisley Telecaster has a one-piece maple neck and maple cap, a rare feature only available for a few years with 1968 being one.
This 1968 Pink Paisley Fender Telecaster was definitely born to be wild, and Nathaniel shows us why. Manufactured only in 1968 and 1969, the Paisley Telecasters are named for their distinctive finish, which is actually a piece of wallpaper Fender affixed to the body and then covered with a clear coat.
This particular Paisley Telecaster has a one-piece maple neck and maple cap, a rare feature only available for a few years with 1968 being one. A ‘64 Fender Vibroverb and an Electro-Harmonix Triangle Big Muff Pi help reveal the true spirit of this special, psychedelic delight.
The Bass VI was released in 1961, right around the same time the Jag came out. It was really designed to compete with Danelectros UB-4 at the time. The original production line ran up to 1975, which is a really long period of time considering how strange this thing really truly is.
The Fender Bass VI is not a baritone, it is actually tuned like an electric guitar in perfect fifths from E to E, but down an entire octave like a bass would be. But it's also not a six-string bass with a huge neck.
It's a 30-inch scale with 21 frets. Like a Jag, you have independent switches for each pickup here and also a high pass filter, the strangle switch so you can get a wide variety of tones. Also, the pickups, although they look like Strat pickups in the way that Jaguar pickups look like Strat pickups are actually quite a bit different because of the comb here on the sides.
Not a baritone, not a bass, and not even really a guitar, this 1965 Fender Bass VI is somehow all of those things at once, and more. Papa Shelby takes us through the history of this freaky Fender and outlines how it’s similar to other models, yet entirely its own. And he does a spot-on Carol Kaye.
Loud, proud, and supremely collectible, this 1959 Tweed Twin has no equal, and it looks and sounds just like gold.
Described by CEO Andrew Yonke as “the guitar that Jesus built,” this 1960 Gibson Sunburst ES-335 boasts a custom-ordered, split-parallelogram fretboard.
This 1960 Gibson ES-345 bears an excellent example of the Argentine Gray finish, a rare, custom colorway only available by special order.
This spotless 1961 Gibson Sunburst ES-335 gives us an ultra-clean look at the world’s first commercial semi-hollow body guitar as it was when it debuted in 1958. Block inlays replaced the original “dot necks” in 1962.
The 1963 model is one of the rarest incarnations of the Byrdland offered, and the one we’ve nabbed is in impeccable form. This beautiful Byrd touts tons of all-original features, including authentic electronics, PAF bridge pickup and Patent Number Sticker neck pickup, and much more.
A rose by any other name would certainly not smell as sweet as this 1963 Fiesta Red Stratocaster, customized with slab rosewood fingerboard and unique Rose decal.
This instrument is instilled with plenty of the design elements that vintage enthusiasts consider the culmination of the Fender Stratocaster aesthetic from the late '50s, including classic body contours, clay dot inlays, a beautifully intact 3-tone finish and most noticeably, a slab Brazilian rosewood fretboard introduced the year prior. A pristine model-year instrument for the savvy collector.
Never have we received a Strat that truly embodies that pivotal period of transition like this one, with a plethora of groundbreaking features that were realized in that year. From the 2-Tone Sunburst color, to Leo's perfect body contour, to the highly desirable "’57 V" neck profile, every aspect of this period-correct instrument makes it an outstanding find.
This Sunburst Fender Stratocaster dates back to the model’s first commercial year, 1954, when, after several years of development, the legendary electric guitar finally hit the market.
Sweet is one word to describe this 1964 Candy Apple Red Jazzmaster, an outrageous offset manufactured in the new custom color just one year before Fender transferred ownership to CBS in 1965.
This 1965 Olympic White Fender Jazz Bass demonstrates the first changes made to the model during the Fender-CBS transition, notably pearloid dot inlays, bound rosewood fingerboards, and oval-shaped tuning machines.
Manufactured at the tail-end of country music’s golden age, when chicken pickin’ chops were exceeded only by the height of one’s hair, this 1967 Blonde Fender Telecaster stands strong as a prime picture of Fender’s first solid-body electric, and Music Row’s greatest weapon.
This 1953 Blonde Fender Precision Bass dates back to the final year of the model’s initial design. Fender would add body contours in 1954 and arrive at its contemporary design in 1957.
Before the PAF, there was the P-90. This 1954 Goldtop shows the Les Paul in one of its earliest stages, equipped with two P-90 single-coils and a wraparound bridge.
On the wings of a dove comes this stunning 1963 Gibson steel-string flattop, complete with hand-engraved pickguard, mother-of-pearl Dove inlay, and original Tune-O-Matic bridge.
This white-hot 1965 Gibson is an early example of the highest-end Firebird model, the VII, loaded with three pickups, Tune-O-Matic bridge, Maestro “Lyre” Vibrola tailpiece and finished in rare Polaris White.
The year is 1937. Franklin D. Roosevelt is inaugurated for a second term. Joe Louis defeats James J. Braddock to become heavyweight champion of the world. A certain cartoon duck makes his debut, and this Martin is fresh off the line. Still in fine form today, this 1937 000-18 is set to sing into its 100th year and then some.