For our latest Guitar Craft Academy Nashville faculty roundup, we asked our faculty members to dream big: If they could have any instrument in the world, with price being no object, what would it be? Read on to see what they had to say:
Brian Nutter: I would love to have an early San Dimas “Strat Head” Charvel.
Marty Lanham: An Earl Scruggs Granada 5-string banjo.
Earl Scruggs holds a unique place in the history of the 5-string banjo. As Andre Segovia did for the classical guitar, Mr. Scruggs brought the banjo to worldwide attention. His playing style with the three picks evolved from older playing styles, including minstrel and old time. Countless banjo enthusiasts have tried to emulate the sound of Earl Scruggs’ banjo.
Millions of instruments have been made to sound “just like Earl,” but few can approach the powerful combination of the master player and the perfect Bluegrass banjo. First designed and manufactured in the 1930s by the Gibson guitar company, the Granada was at the high end of the Mastertone line with gold plating, fancy inlay and finish.
The ‘tone ring’ of this instrument accounts for much of its sound quality and volume. Made of bell bronze, it weighs several pounds and make the banjo quite heavy, a bit more than a Les Paul.
I have played this banjo at some informal jams around Nashville. I have also worked on it for Mr. Scruggs. When you play it, you feel like you sounds better than you ever have before.
Kelly Butler: A 1976 Gibson T-bird. I used to own one — it was still new when I bought it in 1981. I bought it from a small music store in my home town. I was 16. It was the first new bass I ever owned. I was in my first gigging band at the time. It was this time period, with this bass, that I was really beginning to feel like a player, like I could do this thing.
So, what I’m getting at is that it’s not only the tone and playability of an instrument that makes it great to someone. It’s also how it makes you feel. It’s the songs you wrote on it, the fun you had with your buddies in the band. It is the fact that a particular instrument can hold great stories and memories of a time gone by. I wish I still had it, but it might tell some stories that I’d never want my wife and kids to hear! 🤣
Dave Johnson: A 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop. The 1957 Goldtop is the first year that the guitar had a humbucker (PAF) with a stoptail and Tune-o-matic bridge. That’s really the moment where Gibson hit their stride with the Les Paul model. Plus, I’m a sucker for gold, so there’s that! They ran the Goldtop until mid-1958 — that’s when they started burst finishes, which are regarded as some of the best LP’s they ever made, but the gold finish to me is just beautiful. I actually have that 1957 reissue, which might be the closest that I will come to having the real thing, unless I hit the lottery or something. Ha!