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A trip to heaven

I've been in Philadelphia for ten years now, and I'm embarrassed to admit that today was my first visit to Vintage Instruments, which is a few blocks south of City Hall on Broad Street. When Acoustic Roots was in Bryn Mawr I didn't have much of a reason to go into the city to play guitars, but it's been gone for two and a half years now and I haven't found a new place to get my fix.

I was mainly interested in trying a set of Gibsons: a mahogany-topped "banner" 1944 J-45, a 1949 J-45, and a 1953 SJ. Unfortunately (for me, not for its new owner), the SJ had recently sold, so I went back and forth between the two J-45s for an hour or so. I had a clear perference for the '44; it was warm, with a good rumble in the bass, and had even tone across all the strings. It sported a huge neck; I guess this is the (in)famous wartime "baseball bat" neck that guitars of this era are known for. I tend to like big necks on my guitars, but this was a handful.

Even though I didn't go down there to play Martins, I couldn't help but give a trio of dreadnoughts a go: a 1948 D-18, a '49 D-18, and a '64 D-28. I love my D-18GE, with is loosely modeled after a 1934 D-18. The big winner of the day was the '49 D-18. It had a shadow of a second pickguard and a replaced bridge made from ebony (rather than rosewood); based on the playwear and new bridge, I suspected it was played by a lefty for many years. But it's back as a right-handed guitar and was warm and punchy like a good D-18 should be. Anyone have a spare $7.5k so I can bring the '49 D-18 home with me?

1949 D-18...Photo credit: www.vintage-instruments.com (click to enlarge the image)

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