This late-’50s solidbody is elegant yet practical, with its 1-piece, bolt-on rosewood neck, deep pickup controls, and classy gold hardware.

Photo by Lynn Wheelwright

This rare native New Yorker blends old-world craftsmanship with rock ’n’ roll design.

There’s an oft-told tale about solidbody guitars in the early 1950s. It relates how California upstart Fender sparked the public’s fervor with its Broadcaster and Telecaster models, and how the established East Coast builders first denied that they had to respond, but then relented. The rest, and even that alone, is history.

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The label inside this soundhole features a photo of Lucas holding a Special, with "Nick Lucas Special" on its upper circumference and "Made by Gibson, Inc., Kalamazoo, Mich., U.S.A." at the bottom.

Gibson's acoustic Nick Lucas Special was a distinguished debut entry in the history of signature model guitars.

Think of Gibson's golden era and your imagination may spark to Les Paul. Think of the golden era of Gibson acoustics, and you'd do well to think of Nick Lucas. Originally produced from the late 1920s through the '30s, the Nick Lucas Special was introduced as Gibson's first signature guitar. According to experts, it arrived in late '27 or early '28, and the last one was manufactured in 1938 and shipped in '41.

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This one-owner Gretsch shows its age, but plenty of exercise and fresh air have kept its binding and hardware intact, and its single-coils singing.

To fall in love with a vintage Gretsch, one often needs a strong heart. Say you chance upon a closet find: a '60s Country Gentleman that has been carefully stored for decades. You open the case and what do you see? Often, rotten binding crumbling off the body, and the rot's corrosive fumes have wreaked havoc on the hardware.

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