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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!
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!
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.
Our gorgeous 1961 Gibson ES-335 is a true survivor! The original "PAF" Humbucker pickups sound simply breathtaking, while the original frets and 60s neck profile play as well as the day it was made. This guitar earned it's stripes, with authentic checking and play-wear accentuating the body throughout. The ES-335 came on the scene as Gibson strived to find a middle ground between the solid-body Gibson Les Paul and it's feedback-prone hollow body guitar designs. This early-run ES-335 in Cherry is a true testament to their success, and a prized addition to the coveted vault collection here at Chicago Music Exchange!
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!
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.
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!
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!
The White Falcon was originally created as a "showpiece" for the 1954 NAMM Show and billed as "The Guitar of The Future"—it was such a hit that Gretsch rushed the guitar into production and the guitar of the future became a reality in 1955. This rare 1968 model embodies the class of the original showpiece with later Gretsch updates like FilterTron pickups, Thumbnail inlays, and an original Floating Sound Unit (Aka. Tuning fork bridge)—original designed to add resonance and sustain. The electronics are all original and the FilterTron pickups are dripping with lush vintage tone and to add to the package the the guitar includes plenty of case candy. This is the guitar that helped define the sound of '60s Jazz and it’s a gorgeous addition to our amazing Vault Collection.
A 12-string player’s dream. Vintage Martin acoustics are famous for their tone and this one has it in spades. The Brazilian Rosewood body gives this acoustic the ability to sing out loud whether you're strumming or fingerpicking. The "D" shaped neck is very comfortable to play and the low action makes this D12-35 play just as easily as it’s 6-string counterpart. This Martin is truly a joy to play and a real treat for the ears.
One of the rarest birds to land in our possession: our 1969 Gibson Crest Gold Natural is one of only 162 ever built! This thinline electric made a brief appearance in the Gibson lineup from 1969 through 1972. The Mini Humbuckers ring out loud and true, lending a unique flavor to the fully-hollow Brazilian Rosewood laminate body. With intricate binding everywhere from the headstock to the rosewood pickguard, stylish gold hardware, and a perfectly aged patina, this Gibson Crest Gold will be the hallmark of your vintage guitar collection!
In the late 60s, these were special order only guitars. By most books, they stopped producing them between 1967 and 1977, but this guitar was clearly made in the late 60s and assembled in the early 70s. While many EDS-1275's tend to be neck heavy this guitar is well balanced and light and sits comfortably with a strap. This particular guitar has a lower tailpiece position as seen on the iconic Jimmy Page doubleneck, making this a very rare find.
The Vault is more than a name—it's a celebration of our most prestigious curation of vintage guitars in history. As the world's premier authority on vintage and used instruments for more than two decades, this rotating collection features some of our favorite, hand-selected acquisitions to date. All of the instruments in the Vault are listed for sale as well as in our Reverb shop.
The project is the end result of years of research in collaboration with Chicago Music Exchange CEO Andrew Yonke, Vintage Acquisition Manager Daniel Escauriza and the company's most experienced repair technicians, who were able to maintain the original model-year glory of the guitars. It also included endless consultation with various outside industry experts, collectors and artists—from many of whom the guitars were obtained.
These guitars check all the boxes as the best examples of historic instruments…period. They’re the guitars on which all of the most desirable reissues are based. They’re the foundation of the classic sounds you hear on the world's most famous recordings. And they're exclusively available here.