Grammer Model G Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1968)

Grammer  Model G Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1968)
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Item # 7716
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Grammer Model G Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1968), made in Nashville, TN, serial # 1797, natural finish, maple back and sides, pine top; laminated maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

The Grammer guitars made in Nashville from 1965-69 are a sort of American legend, another great stringed dream gone sadly wrong, but leaving a fantastic legacy. The company was the brainchild of country singer Billy Grammer, who apparently had some capital and ambition left over after his huge crossover pop hit "Gotta Travel On" in 1959. Finding himself less than fully pleased with the factory guitars of the day (primarily Gibson and Martin), Billy Grammer resolved that he could offer musicians a better product made locally in Nashville.

To that end, Grammer enlisted other local talent -- primarily Clyde Reid and J.W. Gower -- into a partnership named RG&G (Reid, Grammer, & Gower) in 1965. Despite having limited production experience, the three proceeded to set up the factory to build Grammer's ideal flat-top guitars. J.W. Gower (who has a great story unto himself) was the experienced luthier who actually designed the instruments; he had been building custom-made guitars in his garage for some time already. The story is that when it was made clear to him that only Grammer's name would appear on the peghead, he balked and left the company before the first guitar was even off the line.

Nevertheless, production commenced and the Grammer guitar was produced from 1965 up into 1968 -- approximately 1800 of these "original" Grammer guitars are estimated to have been built. At that point the company was experiencing money issues and Billy Grammer sold his dream to the expanding Ampeg company, who were looking to get into the guitar business. Despite a disastrous factory fire, Ampeg continued the line up into the early '70s, though purists feel the instruments were never the same after that point.

This particular natural-finish Grammer is a very striking guitar, and one of the last "RG&G" instruments, with a serial 1797 number putting it towards the very end of the run. It has a host of unusual features and is typical in that respect of the handmade early Grammers, many of which were essentially one-offs. It was made -- or personalized later -- for someone named Ken Allen, and that name is prominently inlaid into the fingerboard Nashville style. The top is most eccentric; it is made of natural-finished wide-grain pine, giving it a "rural" look that is visually striking and unlike any other factory-made guitar -- Grammer or otherwise -- we have ever seen. The back and sides are laminated flame maple; the neck is 3-piece laminated maple with a rosewood fingerboard.

The signature Grammer appointments designed by Gower: pointy-cornered headstock, swooping pickguard, inset fingerboard lines, and sculpted pointy-end bridge are all present. In appearance this is a wildly eccentric guitar but it is also a very good one, quite playable and a fabulous artefact of the lost Grammer dream and the Nashville gothic of the 1960s it represents.
Overall length is 40 7/8 in. (103.8 cm.), 15 5/8 in. (39.7 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 7/8 in. (12.4 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 1/2 in. (622 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This is a nicely original guitar with only minor wear, mostly just some light pickwear to the top and sound hole edge. One of the seams on the back of the laminated neck is visible and was possibly resealed at some point, but everything is solid.

We would love to say the personalized inlay work in the fingerboard is factory original, but the level of craftsmanship is just a bit below what the Grammer factory usually looks to have produced, so we have to say it's a "home brew" job -- possibly by Ken Allen himself! It's all quite attractive in a folk-art kind of way, as indeed is the entire instrument.

The guitar also has a very good sound, and like most Grammers excels at what it was meant to do -- a strummed rhythm style where it has very good projection while maintaining a lot of depth. As a bonus, this guitar is housed in a fantastic flat-bottomed hardshell case that opens up to form a display stand. We can't find any record of Grammer offering this piece, but it's definitely from the same time frame as the guitar. Excellent Condition.