Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hohner Gruhn Design Acoustic


Sometimes you get what you pay for. And sometimes you get even luckier. I saw this guitar advertised on Craig’s List for $100. I had heard that George Gruhn, quite possibly the leading expert on guitars in the world, had done a few deals over the years to design guitars for various companies including Guild and Hohner. Hohner is known for their lower end guitars and I was a little skeptical upon seeing the ad for this one. However, at the time I had decided I needed a “campfire guitar” as I had been lucky enough to acquire some really nice acoustics, but that left me with the dilemma of what to take over to someone’s house for a cookout or to the beach or camping. Not gonna take the brazilian Franks to the Indian Princesses camp out.

I emailed the person selling the guitar and then never heard anything back. My theory about Craig’s List is that the flakiest people on the planet sell their stuff on there. They don’t answer emails, they flake on appointments with no warning. It’s usually a disaster. Literally about a month later I got an email from a girl saying she had just checked her email and wanted to know if I still wanted the guitar. Really? You listed something on Craig’s List for sale and then didn’t check email for a month? I was wary but I made an appointment to go check out the guitar. It was quite a hike to get there and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I went up to the door and rang the doorbell. I was expecting a girl and what I hear next sounded like a drunk old dude. “WHOOIZIT?” Uh, the guy who is here to see the guitar? “The guitar?” Yep, the guitar. “Yer here to see the guitar? YES, THE GUITAR. “okaycomeonin.”

He points me in the direction of the guitar and explains that his 16-year old daughter owns it, but she went to dinner. Of course she did. She made an appointment and then she went to dinner. I check out the guitar while step-dad explains that he works on a boat and is gone for months at a time. He looks like he’s been drinking for months at a time. The guitar seems nice...very simple but nicely made. And it’s in PERFECT condition. I comment on this and he said that she bought the guitar four years ago and then put it in the closet and never played it. An actual closet classic. I tell him I’ll take it and he says, “Okay, that’s $200!” I said no, it was only $100. He busts out with a huge “I’M JUST FUCKIN’ WITH YA!!! AHAHAHAHAHAHA.” Holy shit, just get me out of here.

I give him the $100 and hope to just get out the door. He continues to ramble about what a good deal I just got as I politely close the screen door behind myself. I get home and realize that I did just get a smokin’ deal. I hung on to the guitar for a couple of months and kept pulling it out and playing it a little. A really nice guitar, especially for a C-note. In fact, it was such a sweet little guitar that I couldn’t bring myself to take it to a campfire! I made the decision that someone else should own this guitar that will appreciate it and take care of it. I post it back on Craig’s List for $200, which is still a good deal, but also makes me a little profit. A guy (and his girlfriend) answers my ad, comes to my office to pick it up, and we started talking. His girlfriend looks REALLY familiar, but she’s 20 and I’m 47 and they live 50 miles away...surely I don’t know her. He asks what kind of music I play and, when I mention my band’s name, his girlfriend’s eyes light up. She says “I’ve seen you play before...more than once!” Turns out she works with one of our singers, and to make a long story short, ended up singing in her wedding a couple of months later accompanied by her boyfriend on the Gruhn Hohner guitar. At the wedding he told me that he actually prefers the Gruhn to his $2000 Taylor.

So, there are many reasons to say I wish I had that one back. But given the circumstances I’m glad that it found a good home with someone who appreciates it.

13 comments:

Fethe said...

Good story about the Hohner. Decades ago, George Gruhn unwittingly bought a pre-WWII Martin, which turned out to have been stolen from folk artist Gamble Rogers. Gruhn contacted Rogers, who went to Nashville to collect the guitar.

The two became friendly, and collaborated later on the design of a F-series Guild. Guitar #100001 of the series went to Rogers. I now have that guitar, and it's not going anywhere. Gruhn is truly a larger-than-life figure in 20th century guitars.

Anonymous said...

got one of these. had it around ten years. seems to get better with age. the sound is much better than alot of more expensive guitars.ive a takamine also and this sound pretty lame comparad to the hohner. always on the look out for an extra one.

Anonymous said...

Got one of these at an antique mall for $45 about ten years ago. I'm always thrilled with the tone and playability. An absolute sleeper!

Serge said...

Hey ! I own the same guitar which I bought something like 15 years ago. My guitar dealer told me at the time that I couldn't get a better value for money. I paid the equivalent of $450 for this new guitar in France (Guitars are usually almost twice the US price here). It's been so easy to play. "Love at first touch". I've tried a few ones since but never felt that comfortable within minutes, so no offers please. No way I'm gonna get rid of it.

Anonymous said...

My ex-wife bought me one of these for my 23rd birthday in 1993. I think it had been sat in the shop for ages. What Attracted me to it was the Jumbo shape and the colour of the wood finish on the top. This guitar has been a big part of my life since then and I will never part with it. With constant use it has picked up a few knocks here and there, but that's just character. It has a wonderful slim neck and is indeed very playable. Glad to see that it's becoming a cult classic!

sean said...

I'm not sure my Hohner is a Gruhn, but I got it for $25 at a garage sale and it sounds UNBELIEVABLY great: I've had it up against vintage 50s Martins and it outsang them in timbre, projection and range - its an HG26 (or 28-can't quite read the #)

Sean said...

I should add that its from the late 70s or up to the mid-80s

Jaimie Muehlhausen said...

the Gruhn Hohner guitars say Gruhn on them very clearly. And were made in the 90s or 2000s.

JASON MELEK said...

Just got one! My god is this a Honer! The best deal I ever found. This guitar (F1 JUMBO) looks better than the mid priced Taylors and Martins, sounds just as good as well. It doesn't have that annoying low end the Gibson jumbos do its more balanced. the neck is thin like a taylor but not as wide of a fret board.

Anonymous said...

The Hohner Gruhn D-1 is a sweet guitar! Finally found one used in great condition after spotting in a shop years ago. Could not let it get away this time. Pick one up if you ever see it and hear this rare one sing. Definitely sounds better than Taylors.

Unknown said...

How much is it Jo

Jo said...

I think its great although there are 2 things that honk out: the pick guard has bubbles as though the plastic has been melted? Maybe due to exposure to sunlight air trapped underneath tried to escape and expanded under the pick guard? And also there is a millimeter crack in the top between the sound hole and the fretboard. I don't know how you can get a crack there whereas I would think the longer veins would be more vulnerable to drying out and cracking? Is there a way i can send you pictures if you're interested? I was going to try to sell it for $250 and then work my way down the price curve?

ccozic said...

Wow, what a great story. Would love to get my hands on one of those Gruhn Hohners!