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Inside the CME Vault
The greatest collection of vintage instruments in our history—from iconic Fender and Gibson electric guitars to legendary Martin acoustics—lives here at Chicago Music Exchange. Explore and shop our ever-changing selection of Vault instruments by using the arrows below. To view previously featured Vault gear: explore our Archives.

1956 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins Hollowbody Transparent Orange

1956 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins

Back in the early '50s, Gretsch reached out to country virtuoso Chet Atkins to help build what would become his signature guitar—the 6120 hollowbody, later coined the "Nashville" model. This particular guitar came off the line just two short years after Chet received his original prototype. It's a prime example of the kind of guitar for which Gretsch would later become famous. It's no wonder Chet loved this model so much. This guitar practically plays itself and packs enough twang to wash your blues away. With Western-inspired appointments such as the "G" logo—which was literally branded into the wood up until 1957—and the horseshoe headstock inlay, the 6120 feels right at home on a sunny porch with a good pair of cowboy boots. This is the guitar that Gretsch was built on, and it earned its spot in the CME Vault the minute it came through the door. Original hardshell case!


Quick Facts

  • Weight: 6lbs 14oz
  • Body: Fully Hollow Maple
  • Neck: 2-Piece Maple w/ medium "C" Profile
  • Fretboard: Rosewood w/ 10" Radius and Block Inlays
  • Pickups: Original Dual Filter 'Trons


1957 Fender Stratocaster

1957 Fender Stratocaster

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!


Quick Facts

  • Weight: 7lbs 8oz
  • Body: Alder (Introduced in Summer 1956)
  • Neck: Maple w/ Soft “V” Profile
  • Fretboard: Maple w/ 7.25” Radius and Dot Inlays
  • Pickups: Three Original Single-Coil Stratocaster Pickups (rated at 5.6 kOhms in the neck, 5.7 k in the middle, and 5.6 k in the bridge)
  • Hardware:Original


1960 Gibson ES-335

1960 Gibson ES-335

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.


Quick Facts

  • Body:2-Piece Maple
  • Neck:Mahogany
  • Fretboard:Brazilian Rosewood
  • Pickups:Dual PAF Humbuckers
  • Hardware:Original


1960 Gibson Les Paul (

1960 Gibson Les Paul ("The Burst")

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!


Quick Facts

  • Weight: 8lbs 8oz
  • Body: Honduran Mahogany
  • Neck: 1-Piece Honduran Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Brazilian Rosewood w/ 12” Radius and 1 1/16” Nut Width
  • Pickups: Dual PAF Humbuckers (rated at 8.3 kOhms in the neck, 8.5 k in the bridge)
  • Hardware: Original All-Nickel Components (Except for Tuner Tips)


1960 Fender Stratocaster 3-Tone Burst

1960 Fender Stratocaster

The Stratocaster was thought to have achieved pure design perfection by 1957, but this 1960 beauty proves it was all uphill from there during the twilight of the pre-CBS years. 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.


Quick Facts

  • Weight: 9lbs 3oz
  • Body: Alder
  • Neck: Maple w/ medium "C" Profile
  • Fretboard: Rosewood w/ 7.25" Radius and Clay Dot Inlays
  • Pickups: Three Original Single-Coil 1959 Stratocaster Pickups


1961 Gibson ES-335 Dot Inlays Cherry Red

1961 Gibson ES-335

Here it is. The 335 to beat all 335's. Featuring iconic dot inlays—an appointment that was switched to block inlays mid-1962—a bound fretboard, stud tailpiece, and just the right amount of finish wear, this is one heavenly guitar. The span of 1958-1961 was truly the Golden Era for ES-335 "Dots". The 335's versatility was well known by influential players of the time such as Eric Clapton, Alvin Lee and countless session players who no longer had switch instruments in order to play various styles of music. Rock, country, jazz—the early '60s 335 could do it all. In terms of playability, this guitar is hard to beat. The rosewood fingerboard has been professionally refretted with era-correct fretwire, making it feel like it came right out of the factory. Sonically, it's one of the best sounding semi-hollows we've ever heard, with original PAF pickups that deliver the big, warm tone you've come to expect from an early 335. Original hardshell case!


Quick Facts

  • Weight: 7lbs 9oz
  • Body: 2-Piece Maple
  • Neck: Maple w/ medium-slim "C" Profile
  • Fretboard: Rosewood w/ 12" Radius and Dot Inlays
  • Pickups: Dual PAF Humbuckers


1963 Gibson Byrdland

1963 Gibson Byrdland

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!


Quick Facts

  • Weight: 7lbs 9oz
  • Body:Maple Back and Sides
  • Neck: 3 Piece Maple w/ Medium “C” Profile
  • Fretboard: Ebony w/ 12” Radius, 1 5/8” wide nut and block inlays
  • Pickups: Dual Humbuckers (rated at 7.1k Ohms in the neck and 7.8k in the bridge)
  • Hardware: Original Gold


1964 Fender Jazzmaster

1964 Fender Jazzmaster

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!


Quick Facts

  • Weight: 7lbs 11oz
  • Body:Alder
  • Neck: Maple w/ “C” Profile
  • Fretboard: Rosewood w/ 7.25” radius, 1 5/8” wide nut and clay dot inlays
  • Pickups: Original (rated at 8 k Ohms in the neck and 7.8 k in the bridge
  • Hardware: Original Tuners


1964 Fender Stratocaster RW Candy Apple Red

1964 Fender Stratocaster

As the "Golden Era" of Fender came to a close, they crafted this stunning Candy Apple Red 1964 Fender Stratocaster. This well loved Strat comes with it's original body and neck, all original internals, and hand-dated pickups marked "12-11-64." The Fender custom-ordered Candy Apple Red finish bears the patina and wear earned only from a lifetime on the stage. This later "Pre-CBS" era Stratocaster is ready for it's next owner to add their own chapter to it's collective history.


Quick Facts

  • Weight: 7lbs 12oz
  • Body: Adler
  • Neck: Maple w/ "C" Profile
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Pickups: Original
  • Hardware: Original except high E Tuner


1964 Martin D-28 Natural

1964 Martin D-28

You'll be hard-pressed to find another classic like our 1964 Martin D-28. Original Brazilian Rosewood back and sides paired with a perfectly aged Spruce top? We're sold. These early examples are becoming increasingly hard to come by. While many vintage D-28s suffer from intonation issues, this vintage beauty has been impeccably maintained. After a professional neck reset and setup, this dreadnought offers a projection, tone and playability simply unobtainable anywhere else. Own a working piece of history and see for yourself why the 1964 Martin D-28 is a true American icon and our newest inductee into the CME Vault.


Quick Facts

  • Weight: 4lbs 10oz
  • Body: Spruce Top w/ Rosewood
  • Neck: Mahogany w/ soft "C" Profile
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Hardware: Original


1965 Fender Jazz Bass Lake Placid Blue

1965 Fender Jazz Bass

As if the Jazz Bass were not a prolific enough addition to the Fender line in the early '60s, it was also the era of Lake Placid Blue's debut—and needless to say, the finish on this beauty has aged exceptionally gracefully with the wear of a lovingly used instrument! This Jazz Bass encapsulates an exceptionally pivotal moment in Fender history, fresh off the heels of the CBS buyout and right at the onset of the rock 'n' roll revolution. This particular Jazz Bass reflects many of the era's distinctive design changes—among them pearloid fretboard inlays and three-ply pickguard alongside a coveted matching head cap. Vintage bass enthusiasts take note—this is an exceptional and rare addition to any collection. Original hardshell case!


Quick Facts

  • Weight: 9lbs 3oz
  • Body: Alder
  • Neck: Maple w/ medium "C" Profile
  • Fretboard: Rosewood w/ 7.25" Radius and Dot Inlays
  • Pickups: Dual Original Jazz Bass Pickups w/ 1965 Pot Dates and Grey Bobbin w/ Chrome Pickup Cover


1966 Fender Precision Bass Sonic Blue

1966 Fender Precision Bass

Nothing exemplifies the sound of '60s bass guitar more than the Fender Precision Bass. The custom Sonic Blue finish makes this particular instrument one of the rarest treats of the CBS era. Most often these highly sought-after Sonic Blue finishes will come to us with a significantly faded finish that appears more green than blue—this one however, has held up beautifully over the years with only very slight change. The neck plays like a dream and delivers the classic '60s Fender thump. Original hardshell case!


Quick Facts

  • Weight: 8lbs 15oz
  • Body: Alder
  • Neck: Maple w/ medium "C" Profile
  • Fretboard: Rosewood w/ 7.25" Radius and Dot Inlays
  • Pickups: Single 1966 Precision Bass Split Single-Coil Pickup


1968 Martin D-35 Natural

1968 Martin D-35

Lovingly referred to as "our Batman Martin," this 1968 Martin D-35 has been turning heads since it entered the shop. The unique pickguard appears to be custom ordered from the Martin Factory, and original to the guitar. Due to the scarcity of Brazilian Rosewood in the late 1960s, Martin created the D-35s signature 3-piece back to utilize their remaining stock. The stunning wood grain variations in the back and sides paired with the aged Spruce top produce a tone and chime you'll only find in Martin guitars of this vintage. While many D-35s possess a characteristic boom in the low end, this 1968 Martin D-35 has a uniquely balanced voice, making it the perfect instrument for flat-picked rhythm work or delicate hand picking. Grab this unique, one-of-a-kind masked avenger before it disappears from the Vault!


Quick Facts

  • Weight: 4lbs 14oz
  • Body: Spruce top w/ Rosewood
  • Neck: Mahogany w/ soft "V" Profile
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Hardware: Original