Dream Guitars has the ability to reach out and pluck those dream guitars from out of the air, where mere mortals are unable to find recordings of these beasts, let alone actual guitars. Paul’s kept himself at the center of the world of high-end guitars for 17 years now, patiently building his knowledge base and making connections between players, builders, and collectors, diligently placing new voices into practiced hands, providing discerning clientele to inspire luthiers, and reuniting collectors with the instruments of their childhoods, or their parents’ childhoods. As a result, Dream Guitars has become one of the focal points for preserving the world of fine lutherie and maintaining the market for anyone with a voice or a guitar model at stake.
Accordingly, Dream Guitars is exactly the place you want to come to if the instrument you’re looking for is off the beaten path (just look at the country roads that lead to our showroom), masterfully constructed and exceedingly rare. When one of our clients came to us with his collection of Holy Grail guitars, Paul was more than ready to help out. One quick flight to New York and a careful car trip back, and Dream Guitars has now gotten a hold of three irresistably collection-worthy instruments: a 1935 Larson Brothers Prairie State 15″, a 1938 Larson Euphonon Dreadnought, and the grand master of all–an all-original 1930 Martin 000-45! This last one is particularly difficult to find: there were only 21 made in 1930. Add to that the voice, with all its 86 years’ of music, and the completely original state of its parts (right down to the cast iron key for the case), and the chances of finding a guitar like this in the wild are nigh impossible.
Valued at $135,000, this Martin is an incredible find, and Paul was able to line up a buyer within a matter of days. Soon the chalice will be passed and this Holy Grail guitar will be en route to its new owner. In quick order, the Larson Prairie State also sold as well, and both guitars are going to trusted clients who respect the historicity of these instruments. This is what it’s all about for us: connecting players and collectors across state lines (and national borders) to foster a healthy market for the exchange of these irreplaceable instruments.
Before we let this one go, however, Paul wanted to compare it with some of the contemporary voices that we have in the shop, so we set up a little taste test between the 1930 Martin 000-45 and a McConnell 16 Inch, Matsuda M1, a Traugott R, and a Wingert 00. Here’s Paul:
“The taste test was really fun. Dream Guitars is well known for representing many modern makers who are moving toward something different than traditional, vintage voicing, who instead search for new, individual forms of expression and musicality by chasing the fascinating new ideas in their heads. It’s wonderful to have a chance to play many of these prewar Martin guitars because they are quite different from these contemporary builds. On the one hand, it’s nearly impossible to replicate what happens to a guitar after 80 or 100 years of being in the world. The finish gases off or is worn off, and the wood dries out while millions of notes vibrate through its fibers. This chronological process yields a distinct kind of energy and body–something that contemporary builders of traditional styles are seeking to recreate. A similar, but distinct quality of energy can also be found in the very finest modern guitars, even after just one year of being played in and opening up.
The advances in bracing and voicing for the modern guitar, I believe, allow us to get closer to a sound that’s comparable to these prewar instruments, but much earlier in the guitar’s life. I attribute quite a lot of these advances to one simple thing: how much time each builder spends on one guitar. If they take their painstaking time to consider whether or not to pass the top through the thickness sander one more time, or to take one more pass with a chisel at the scallop of a brace. Constantly tapping the wood and striving for their own unique tone. To me that’s why you can pick up a recent McConnell, Traugott, Tippin, or Somogyi, to name a few, and feel the same sort of inspiration you feel from one of these outstanding vintage Martin guitars. It’s not the same voice, but the combination of so many advances in construction and voicing definitely allow these new instruments to compete on the same field as Holy Grail guitars. I truly believe we are in the Golden Age with dozens of makers building their own versions of luthier history.”