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04/8/2014

On The Auction Block: The Stradivarius Of Guitars

They include Martins, Gibsons, classical guitars from famous Spanish guitar makers, and some exquisite models from Greenwich Village luthier John D’Angelico.

To see some of these guitars, I visit the Guitar Center on 14th Street in Manhattan. People trying out guitars — mostly electric — are all around me. Thirty of the items for auction can be previewed here in a special room devoted to acoustic guitars. Arlan Ettinger, the president of Guernsey’s auction house, says these 30 represent about 10 percent of the guitars that will be sold at auction.

Eleven other guitars and one mandolin in the auction were made by D’Angelico, who had a small workshop in Manhattan starting in the 1930s. His instruments are often called the Stradivari of guitars.

Musician David Bromberg told me he once owned one of only two round-holed guitars that D’Angelico ever made.

“I had an extraordinary collection of guitars,” he said, adding that most of them were sold long ago. “I will never be able to duplicate the collection that I used to own. I will never have enough money to buy back the guitars I sold, or similar guitars.”

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