What Is The Holy Grail Guitar?

wabash slim

I Bleed Orange
Feb 10, 2010
18,312
lafayette in
In the book, "The Million Dollar Guitar", it's said that the '58, 59, and '60 LPs were sent to England as they weren't selling as well for Gibson as the new SGs. Even tho they had the same pickups, the slimmer and lighter SGs were far outselling the older LPs. When guitarists in England found these great guitars at bargain prices, they jumped on them. In a "right time/right place" scenario, the British musicians made the LP the guitar of choice in the early '60s. Combined with hot Vox and Marshall amps they were a great combination. The rest is history.
 

Lou Coppolino

Synchromatic
Jul 23, 2022
862
Howell, NJ
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

These things go in cycles.

When I was at a guitar show and saw these vintage '59 bursts, I told the seller that these are fine guitars but I don't think anyone is walking around with that kind of $'s.

The money is there when someone buys.
 

dspellman

Gretschie
Jul 4, 2020
397
Los Angeles
I came close to trading a vintage car for a really nice '59 burst at Rumble Seat in Ithaca one year.
Reluctantly decided not to, even though there was a Travis Bean that might have been tossed in. The car is currently worth three times what the '59 is.

I've played over 30 different serial numbers of '59 burst (not a tough thing to accomplish in the LA area), and honestly the only one I've ever considered was that one in NY. They're just not (sorry, NOT) that special.
 

Lou Coppolino

Synchromatic
Jul 23, 2022
862
Howell, NJ
I came close to trading a vintage car for a really nice '59 burst at Rumble Seat in Ithaca one year.
Reluctantly decided not to, even though there was a Travis Bean that might have been tossed in. The car is currently worth three times what the '59 is.

I've played over 30 different serial numbers of '59 burst (not a tough thing to accomplish in the LA area), and honestly the only one I've ever considered was that one in NY. They're just not (sorry, NOT) that special.


I traded an Impala Station Wagon for a Synth and recording gear in the 80's.
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,425
Tucson
That’s a loaded question, Lou.

In one sense, I have the Holy Grail, as I would have identified it in my early years; I have a close replica of Chet Atkins’ single cutaway Country Gentleman. And, it is an excellent guitar. Basically, the body is the size of a Byrdland, but it has a long scale, and Filtertron-family pickups.

But that was my Holy Grail, at an early stage in my playing. Later on, my Holy Grail was a Johnny Smith, and I had one, for a while. It was an impressive guitar, but not practical in the real world of feedback. For Jazz settings, it was ok, but almost anything else was going to result in almost uncontrollable feedback.

Perhaps the best guitar I’ve ever owned is a Guild T-400, in that it has some of the character of a fine archtop, but it’s in a useful package. Once again, it’s sort of like a Byrdland, although only 2” deep, and has a long scale. It’s good for almost any kind of music, and the Guild Mini Humbuckers give it a sound palette that gets close to Gibson Jazz sounds, and yet can sound much like a Gretsch.

As far as aspirational guitars, I would have to say an L-5 CT; the George Gobel L-5. Once again, the same sized body as a Byrdland, but with an available long scale. I played an acoustic L-5 CT, about 20 years ago, and regret not buying it. That instrument, with a Johny Smith pickup, would be about perfect for my tastes. As such, it would be a bespoke Jazz axe, and nothing more or less.

Sorry, not a Gretsch, but with four Pro Series, I’d still have plenty of those to play.
 

stiv

Country Gent
Sep 12, 2014
2,563
Firenze, Italy
When I started run around vintage guitars, I’ve always been told that the Holy Grails were the ‘50 Penguins. At the time there was no FMIC Gretsch, and Penguins weren’t reissued yet (at least, for what I knew). I didn’t even knew a Penguin existed since I saw one in a Blue Book… 🙂
Btw, today I can’t tell about THE Holy Grail, but I know what’s MY Holy Grail: It is, it’s been and will always be Setzer’s original ‘59.
 


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