1949 Stromberg "G-3"
The value of a Stromberg guitar, both monetarily as well as musically speaking, greatly depends on the period at which it was made. The first guitars designed in the mid 1930s by Charles Stromberg (the father) might have been modeled after the Gibson L5, still feature pressed rather than carved tops, and laminated backs. These instruments, easily recognizable by their 3-piece segmented f-holes, are collectable merely for the name on the headstock. In the later 1930s a single elongated f-hole shape was adapted. Guitars from this period maintain very inconsistent in tonal quality as, in quest for a louder orchestra guitar, guitar construcion experimented with various bracing patterns. However it wasn’t until the post WW-II years that Elmer Stromberg (the son) completely redesigned the guitars to be built of premium solid carved woods, and especially thick graduated tops equipped with one single slanted tone bar running underneath. These "transverse-braced" guitars form the foundation of Strombergs eminent reputation, and the only ones that command 5-figure prices.
This is a later instrument (serial number 596) labeled Charles A Stromberg, but so in fact built by his son Elmer. According to the Jonathan Kellerman book "With Strings Attached", the earliest serial number on a Stromberg guitar is approx. 300, and the last around 650, making for a total of 300-350 guitars. Of these, only the last 100 specimens were constructed on basis of Elmer's revamped design, with the fabled single transverse bracing internally.
As mentioned, such transverse (or slanted) bracing was an attempt to combine the sweetness of the x-bracing with the powerful projection of parallel braced guitars. The result was a warm yet extremely powerful rhythm guitar, and this G-3 is no exception. The Stromberg sound was made most famous by Count Basie's guitarist Freddy Green. Green played the top-of-the-line giant 19" wide Master 400 and 300 models, as well as a more regular sized Deluxe model. The G-3 and G-1 models are similar 17-1/4" wide body archtops, however a step down in cosmetics. Although scarce, Stromberg guitars are still favorite amongst some current rythm players as well, most prominently western swinger 'Ranger' Doug Green (Time Jumpers, Riders in the Sky). Boston guitarist Gerry Beaudoin's G-3 can be heard on the rythm tracks of almost 100 recent blues and jazz albums.
For an old-fashioned guitar this one has a very nice and modern fast playing neck (as far as I am capable of playing fast), with a 25" scale length.
The peghead overlay is engraved rather than inlayed. The guard, tailpiece, and f-hole shape, are all typical for Elmer Stromberg's design. Other specifics shown in the pics are the trussrod, which adjusts underneath (!) the removable nut; and a unique bridge design with the set screws on top, and an ivory insert in the bridge saddle to brighten the high B and E string response.
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