You might think I am featuring this guitar because the accent red color on it happens to match the color of my garage. Not quite - I am featuring this Supertone singing cowboys guitar because it is from 1939 and it is in immaculate condition. Seventy five years old - all original - and really quite pristine.
Picked this one up off of ebay for practically nothing quite some time ago. I think people shied away from it because it was in such good condition that it looks like a reissue. There were a couple of reissues of this guitar. Harmony did one in the fifties and there was a more recent chinese reissue. When i got the guitar i even thought that it was a reissue when i took it out of the box because it was so clean. Paper tag in the soundhole and stamps confirm it to be model 237 stamped in 1939. I believe these were actually made in 1938.
In terms of playability, most of these cowboy guitars are far from desirable. Many of them are considered wall hangers and make great decorations. I can't imagine a lodge in Montana or Wyoming that doesn't have one. I would say the one cowboy guitar that was fairly well built was the Gene Autry model which began as a Supertone product and eventually became a Harmony product. No one ever expected these instruments to be used in any sort of professional setting. They were made to catch on with the cowboy craze and western movies of the 1940's. There were numerous versions of the cowboy guitar that came under different names. Of course we have The Singing Cowboys and Gene Autry, but there was also a Roy Rogers model, a Home on the Range model, The Plainsman(which hung on the coattails of a Gary Cooper movie with the same title) and far to many more to mention. They are fun guitars to own as the whole idea of stenciling a guitar seems to be a thing of the past - although Martin, Gretsch, and Collings have all come out with recent examples of stenciled guitars with a cowboy theme.
This guitar actually plays okay. It could use a neck set and if you were really concerned about tone you might add a fixed bridge, but i think I'll just leave it be. Look how pristine the body of this guitar is and how nicely the stencil has held up against time. I wouldn't want to cover that up with a much larger fixed bridge. In terms of it being rare, you will find these kicking around on a fairly regular basis. You will almost certainly be able to find the Gene Autry model just about any week you look on ebay. As far as this particular instrument goes you will see the reissues now and then but it is somewhat rare to find an original like this one and even more difficult to find one is this nice of shape. I'm not sure what that means. As I stated earlier folks are not beating down the doors for these types of instruments. Nonetheless, I think if you are a collector that this makes a nice funky addition to that collection. They represent not only an important period in guitar making history, but an important cultural time in our history. I can't think of to many things that are more American than an American made guitar featuring our love affair with the cowboy.
|You don't see many faux granite fretboards with red dot fret markers|
|the headstock is a helpful way to identify the maker of this instrument. A definite Supertone/Harmony characteristic|