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With a beautifully aged body and resonant, rounded tone, this one-of-a-kind Martin 000-18 delivers plenty of prewar-era charm. Steeped in traditional design elements, including a rustically aged mahogany body, unbound fingerboard and simple appointments, this highly collectible vintage Vault treasure has plenty of history! Origins trace back to Chicago's famous Maxwell Street Market—an epicenter for the city's burgeoning blues scene—where it was sold to a fortuitous second owner at a flea market. It even boasts a mythical past well before its Maxwell Street tenure, reportedly belonging to a South Side Chicago street musician who equipped the piece with a DeArmond sound pickup and trapeze tailpiece. Now, we’re offering up this spectacular artifact to a lucky rightful owner. Original hardshell case!
Not many instruments capture the fabled inaugural years of bass like this 1953 Precision Bass model, which boasts all the features of the very same instrument Leo Fender brought to fruition a year prior. This specific model serves up the same original-era magic as its predecessor, as well as some very tasty features. Among the most notable original-era components are its legendary Blonde finish—all models at the time were offered in either this classic hue or Butterscotch Blonde—and the famous slab-style body that made it a perfect counterpart to the Tele in the music shops and on the stages of the early ’50s. Then, there's the small details: two pressed carbon fiber saddles for big, beefy P Bass tone, that super-chunky “baseball bat” neck profile quintessential of early models, and an original pre-split-coil P Bass pickup that captures classic vintage tones to a tee. Original hardshell case!
Die-hard Fender fans are probably well aware of the legacy of the 1954 Fender Stratocaster—the pivotal first year of what would become one of the most iconic guitars in history. Finding the original in top-notch condition is an undertaking in itself, but our vintage team have outdone themselves once again. From the Vault comes an outstanding and incredibly rare hardtail model, discovered on the West Coast in true Fender spirit. An extremely collectible piece released in summer of ’54 (only at the request of artists and special orders), we had to get it into the shop and into the hands of our experts. In addition to the rare, notable bridge design, this instrument offers all the makings of a true first-year Strat—namely the highly contoured ash body, a larger, vintage-style “C” profile and original saddles. Original tweed hardshell case!
Goldtop aficionados, look no further. This memorable Les Paul is it: the quintessence of the Gibson golden age. It’s action-packed with all the original features you’d expect from this third-year artifact—the desirable wraparound stud tailpiece/bridge combo and a slightly shallower neck. Of course, there’s the coveted and impeccably aged gold top, originally crafted by suspending metallic bronze powder in nitrocellulose lacquer. This Goldtop offers up an irresistible combo of crystal clarity and primal growl, courtesy of its original P-90 pickups—a hallmark of the ’54 model year. Fans will attest, there’s nothing like the raw, unadulterated power of an early Les Paul. This is real-deal vintage playability, married to museum-like cosmetic quality. Original hardshell case! CURRENTLY ON HOLD—LISTING COMING SOON
A symbol of Fender’s cultural icon at its peak. Leo Fender spent the majority of the 1950s gradually perfecting design of the Stratocaster. It's widely believed that in 1957, those efforts finally came to fruition. 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. Original tweed hardshell case!
Admired by many (including Duane Allman, Steve Hackett and Jimmy Page). Rivaled by few. There are guitars, and there are icons. Our exquisite original dark back 1957 Gibson Les Paul Standard Goldtop just happens to be one of them—it's perhaps one of the most recognizable instruments and groundbreaking design moments in music history. Ted McCarty’s famous PAF humbucker pickups are a sonic benchmark that reshaped the musical landscape, and this introductory year model continues to set the precedent for fanatical guitar finds. Combined with the Tune-O-Matic bridge that was introduced a year before, this incarnation of the Les Paul became the standard that lives on to this day. Original hardshell case! CURRENTLY ON HOLD
Few natural Gibson ES-335 guitars have been crafted in 1960, making them hard-to-find pieces to begin with. We’re ecstatic to have brought this very special, and already extremely rare incarnation of the model through our doors from none other than guitar collecting Mecca—the famous Scott Chinery collection. Even among Chinery’s otherworldly collection of vintage instruments, this specific custom order piece is a natural standout—it flaunts additional eye candy such as split parallelogram inlays and a Bigsby tailpiece to satiate the palate of ravenous vintage guitar aficionados. It was even highlighted in the published book “The Chinery Collection: 150 Years of American Guitars,” and rightfully so, we say! Original hardshell case.
Here it is, the apex of our Vault collection: an authentic 1960 Gibson Les Paul from the original introductory year of the famed “Burst.” The figuring on this absolutely amazing flamed maple top is truly one-of-a-kind, so much so that this masterpiece has been featured in several notable published Gibson books, including "Beauty of the Burst" and "Burst Believers." But pictures do not do this guitar, or its justice...you just have to see this one for yourself. On the back of the headstock, you’ll find another unexpected addition: a “Made in USA” stamp suggesting this beauty was initially made for overseas sale. And, on that note, feel and hear it as well—the Honduran mahogany is well balanced and lightweight. Plus, that sound. These original PAF pickups hit the ultimate tonal sweet spot, and truly define what a humbucker should be all about. Believe it—this is vintage guitar perfection at its finest. Original hardshell case!
As if the our selection of Vault semi-hollowbodies wasn’t impressive enough, this gorgeous Gibson ES-345 is one for the ages, touting extremely collectible appointments unlike any others in its class. Among the most obvious and distinguished is the guitar’s Argentine Grey finish. A digital copy of the factory ledger verifies that the spectacular hue is a product of a custom order, adding substantial value to this already luxurious and desirable instrument. And as if that weren’t enough, granular details such as the rare sidepull tremolo are hidden gems that will surprise and delight even the most discerning collector.
This extremely collectible 1960 Gibson ES-335 is perhaps one of our most exclusive instruments to ever enter our doors—a hell of a player piece that remains in stunning, all-original condition after more than five decades, with components that look outstandingly untouched. But aside from its unbelievable condition, it boasts appointments that suggest even more exclusivity as one of very few special order models—its double parallelogram inlays are atypical of most ES-335 guitars, and the stamp inside of the 2-piece body offers further evidence of an unbelievable Vault rarity. This is a serious vintage gem for the serious Gibson enthusiast!Original hardshell case!
The year 1962 is a significant one in 335 history, marking the transitional period when the ES-335 adopted its streamlined cosmetic look. This piece is a vintage dream come true for the avid Gibson semi-hollow fan, with “best of all worlds” features such as PAF pickups and stud tailpiece. Not only does it boast the warm, recognizable tone and reduced feedback by which the classic ES-335 is known, but the checking and aging are indicative of a truly beloved and proudly used instrument. And this baby rings as loudly and clearly as the day it first came out of its case in the Gibson golden age. Original hardshell case!
The well-roundedness of the ’63 Gibson Dove is a likely reason why the model was embraced by hordes of devotees such as Elvis Presley, Emmylou Harris and more. Sonically, cosmetically, THIS acoustic is absolutely incomparable. Few acoustics that enter Chicago Music Exchange have matured with such grace and beauty, and this second-year model (after the guitar’s introduction in ’62) exceeds our expectations. This highly collectible, easily playable example of vintage Gibson craftsmanship is bar none, right down to the granular detail and attention instilled into the pickguard. Aside from its visual detailing and original finish, the maple back and sides and spruce top have matured for a gorgeous resonance and tone that have mellowed and deepened over time. Original hardshell case! CURRENTLY ON HOLD
Only CME could come across a vintage Fender rarity like this 1963 Strat. Among its most obvious, unique features is the lovingly aged Fiesta Red finish, which tops both Olympic White and Desert Sand undercoats and makes this a very unusual find! The rose water decal dates back to the original owner who applied the unique design in 1967. Needless to say, this Stratocaster is the product of an active musician—lovingly used and worn, with a smoothed-down neck and all-original hardware that can only be found in the annals of history or inside the CME Vault. Original hardshell case!
A thinline instrument with the warmth and response of a traditional archtop. A large-bodied guitar with a 23 1/2" short scale perfect for unusual chord voicing. From John McLaughlin’s jazz box to Ted Nugent faithful touring workhorse, the Gibson Byrdland is nothing short of an elusive animal, with a name conceived by Ted McCarty after he sought the opinions of Billy Byrd and Hank Garland. Our vintage experts managed to capture and exciting moment in time for the instrument—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. Check out the details below. Original hardshell case!
We thought one pre-CBS Fender Jazzmaster was cool enough—imagine our delight when this Candy Apple Red beauty came through our doors (in its completely original case no less) alongside a collection of seven other crazy “custom-color” offset pieces! A small piece of a private collection procured in the ’90s, this stunning model is an absolute must for discriminating collectors. The all-original finish looks as pristine as its early days alongside a matching headstock and original vintage mint green pickguard! Take note of the unbound rosewood fretboard (stamped with the date, no less) with clay dots—it’s the final year of their existence before Fender transitioned the aesthetic over to pearloid blocks.Original hardshell case!
As vintage lovers, we’re big fans of Fender’s highly coveted “pre-CBS”-era early ’60s instruments. So when this celebrated “custom-color” Fender Jazz Bass made its way into the CME Vault, we were floored by its stellar condition. Surfacing from an era when the instrument's popularity was at its height, the 1965 Jazz Bass touts a number of transition-year appointments not seen on many other instruments of its kind. The “custom-color” Olympic White finish has aged effortlessly over the last 50 years, and its combination of fingerboard features—an unbound rosewood fretboard with pearloid dots—is rarely stumbled upon given the time period (by ’65, Jazz Basses had adopted a bound fingerboard). You truly won't know what perfection feels like until you play it!
You'll never come across a Firebird like this! Classic Gibson tone manifests itself in this mid ’60s beauty—a super-rare piece with an unusual collection of features that are in impeccable condition. Among that highly unique set of components is its non-reverse body style, introduced that very same year after Gibson sought larger success outside of the notable reverse-headstock model. Also of note is the Firebird’s highly sought after Polaris White finish, which alongside all-nickel hardware made this beautiful Bird very possibly a one-of-a-kind addition to the arsenal of any avid collector. Original hardshell case!
Commemorate the final years of the famed, coveted nitro finish (right before the shift to polyurethane) by feasting your eyes and ears on this incredible 1967 Fender Telecaster, with several notable features coveted by fans of Fender’s beloved workhorse instrument. The benefits of nitro and years of safe keeping have certainly benefitted this beauty, as it’s aged gracefully to a gorgeous hue characteristic of vintage Olympic White. A tried and true ’67 to the core, the instrument touts several special year-specific components, including a separate maple fretboard used only on artist models and “F” stamped Schaller tuners. Original hardshell case!