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George Gruhn’s Guitar Shop, a $150,000 Loar Mandolin, and a Coffee Stop

December 13, 2019


It’s a pretty road here today, eh? Everything’s in bloom right now so Kate and
I both have pretty bad allergies. I can’t hear out of my left ear. I think we actually have colds right now. Oh. Nice day to go check out some guitars! So today we’re going to go to Gruhn’s Guitars
here in Nashville. Before we go to Gruhn’s, we’re going to stop
by one of our favorite coffee shops in town, which is called Box. It’s on 10th Avenue South, kind of like a
hidden gem, I didn’t even know about it until a few months ago. I encourage you to go there, but I don’t encourage
you to get the muffins there because they’re really good, and they’re all mine. So, stay away from my muffins. When I first ordered a dozen muffins from
them, they looked at me kind of odd and said, “Wow, this is not a request we ordinarily
get — oh I can see that guy’s buttcrack. Are you getting them for like a party or something?” And I said, “Of course I’m getting them for
a party…in my tummy!” This is a boy who starts his day every single
day with a mocha and a muffin. I don’t think I’m a chocoholic, but I do eat
chocolate for every meal. George Gruhn is one of the top guitar experts
in the world. He knows like everything about vintage guitars
– Martins, Gibsons, you name it, back to the 1800s. He has an awesome store here in town. It used to be located downtown on Broadway,
but then the Broadway tourist scene got way too intense, and he had a bunch of careless
randos coming in and risking the structural integrity of a lot of his really nice instruments. So he moved to a shop over on 8th Avenue South. It’s a much bigger store than it used to be. And he has a ton of like pre-War Martins,
you know from the ’30s and ’40s. I mean he has some pre-war reptiles, some
vintage reptiles. Hopefully none of his reptiles are refinished. Just pulling into the shop now. Scoping out the guitars. It matches my jacket. Oh yeah. Isn’t that kind of like — yeah the Hofner
bass, like Paul McCartney. That’s so cool. Berlin Pink. [Laughs.] Check this out, we found this hanging on the
wall. Look at this thing. It looks like a dragon or something. This is a 1915 Gibson Style “O” and it was
owned by John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Floating bridge, look at that tailpiece. It has bridgepins also? Never seen something like that. It’s got like a storage shelf right here,
so you can put picks and weed. Is that how that works? Yep, picks and weed pretty much. Look at that pickguard. I love that, that is so cool. I want to know… It looks like there’s a woman playing on the
pickguard. Wow, is that how you interpret that piece
of abstract art? Check this out, this is an old Gibson J-45
from when? 1943. So this would be a Banner J-45. You can see the banner there on the headstock. It’s got that cool script logo. Okay we’re heading upstairs to the second
floor. The mysterious land of special guitars. Nooooo…. The Gibson Company was incorporated in 1902
when Orville started building instruments in Kalamazoo, Michigan in the mid-1890s. Here is a genuine Orville Gibson guitar. This label in it: OH Gibson. And this is prior to the founding of the Gibson
Company. So this was made before 1902. With proper care, guitars will last a long
time. They outlast people. Orville there is happy to greet people. We have another cat up here named Titus. Basically, the granddaddy of modern archtop
jazz guitars. Martin guitars go back even further. Martin was established in 1833, and I have
one right here to show you. This particular one was made in 1892, and
this is original finish. It’s not reworked. It’s just in good condition. We have Martins going back as far as 1836
here in the shop. The electric guitars of the 1950s are absolutely,
completely up-to-date by modern standards. In fact, if anything, they’re better than
most of the new electrics. With guitars, an electric guitar – a Fender
Telecaster from 1952 is not obsolete. It’s better than a new one! Some of the best acoustic guitars Martin ever
made were done in the 1930s. Here’s one — this one is from 1945, so this
was made the same year I was made. This one’s new enough, it’s not quite their
golden era. This is not as good as one from the ’30s,
but it’s still pretty darn good. In the ’50s and ’60s Martin changed their
design. People were using heavy strings, and Martin
wanted to avoid warranty work and gave a lifetime warranty, so they built them heavier. They don’t vibrate as well so they don’t sound
as good as the old ones did. This one here’s $150,000. How long have you had this one? Um, a couple of months. This is a brand new mandolin made by the folks
who just came in today to deliver it. Oh, wow. Pretty good, isn’t it? Really nice, yeah. $150,000 versus $5,200. You should buy it! [Laughing.] Well that was a cool day getting to hang out
with the Michael Jordan of guitar salesmen in George Gruhn. Thanks for tuning into this week’s episode
of Born in Nashville, and please subscribe for more videos.

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