Nearly 300 of the World’s Finest Vintage Guitars Will Hit the Auction Block at Guernsey’s

February 19th, 2014

ABOVE: Gibson Nick Lucas Special

This is an excerpt from the all-new March/April 2014 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine. For the rest of this story, plus profiles of guitar-playing U.S. Olympians and much more, head to the Guitar Aficionado Online Store.

Immaculate Collection: In April, nearly 300 of the world’s finest vintage archtop, flattop, and classical/flamenco guitars will hit the auction block at Guernsey’s.

By Chris Gill | Photos by Paul Schraub

When Hank Risan began to collect guitars at the age of 15 back in 1970, he wanted only the best right from the start.

“I would hang out with Norm Harris at Norman’s Rare Guitars,” recalls Risan, CEO of Media Rights Technologies, Inc. “I wanted to buy a 1929 000-45 from Norm, so even way back then I had a pretty good idea of what was cool. I wanted that 000-45 more than anything, and that set me on my journey. Then I had the good fortune of meeting [Berkeley dealer] Jon Lundberg, who taught me the intricacies of vintage guitar production practices, materials, models, and parts, all the way down to the types of screws each instrument used.”

Over the next three decades, Risan assembled a collection of more than 700 of the finest available examples of the most desirable archtop, flattop, classical, and flamenco guitars. “I scoured the entire country in search of instruments,” Risan says. “I sold the guitars I didn’t want—mostly electrics, which were easy to sell and weren’t the focus of my collection. I probably bought and sold more than 10,000 instruments putting my collection together. Dealers like John Bernunzio, George Gruhn, Norm Harris, Richard Johnston [Gryphon Stringed Instruments], and Tim Miklaucic [Guitar Salon International] knew I was looking for the best, finest, and rarest examples of these instruments and helped me find them.”

Risan originally intended to open a museum to share his guitars with the public, but during the new millennium his attention shifted to his growing technology company. With many of his guitars sitting idle in storage, he recently decided to sell about 300 of his finest instruments, which will be hitting the block in an auction held by Guernsey’s in Manhattan on April 2 and 3.

The selection of instruments is staggering, consisting of various D’Angelico, Epiphone, Gibson, Gretsch, Larson, Martin, National, Regal, Stromberg, and Washburn guitars from the 1890s through the Fifties as well as classical/flamenco guitars from master builders like Antonio de Torres, José Ramírez, Manuel Ramírez, and Ignacio Fleta. Some of the guitars were owned by celebrities, including Eric Clapton, Hank Garland, Mick Jagger, Eddie Lang, Les Paul, and Stephen Stills, and many one-of-a-kind and prototypical instruments are available along with immaculate, museum-grade catalog examples.

For more information, check out the MARCH/APRIL 2014 issue of Guitar Aficionado and visit guernseys.com.

This is an excerpt from the all-new March/April 2014 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine. For the rest of this story, plus profiles of guitar-playing U.S. Olympians and much more, head to the Guitar Aficionado Online Store.

BELOW: c.1950 Stromberg Master 400

Comments

  1. Posted by Ray Garcia on April 15th, 2014, 11:52 [Reply]

    I have been asked to market a 1926 Santos Hernández in excellent condition , this guitar wss previously owned by Niño Ricardo and has been kept in careful care over generations by my client since 1926.

    Please call to inquire. No photos will be provided without proper background.

    Ray Gracia

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