Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Truetone Archtop Acoustic


For most of the stories I've posted so far there has been a "story" in there somewhere. Something funny about how I acquired the guitar in question or something weird about the instrument itself. I guess the "story" of this guitar is that I really don't remember too much about it. I do remember that I found it at the Oceanside (CA) Swap Meet and it was cheap. I'm fairly certain I paid around $40 for it. There is a guy who is ALWAYS at the Oceanside Swap Meet in a sort of brownish-gold colored van who, somehow, always has a few cheapo guitars for sale. He NEVER has anything nice and expensive...always some old '60s Teisco or a cheap Squier or two or three crappy classical guitars. But no matter what, he always has guitars. Once I bought an entire pedal board full of pedals from him for $100 and resold them on eBay for about $250.

On this particular day, I headed directly over to the aisle that he is always on and checked out his weekly stash. This time he happened to have this Truetone Archtop. At that time, I was heading to the swap meet pretty much every weekend. So, after awhile, the guy sort of got to know me. Well, I mean he didn't know my kids' names or anything, but he did know that I knew a little bit about guitars. So, whenever I'd walk up and look at the selections for the week, he'd ask me how much I thought certain things were worth. I was always honest with him, which didn't really work to my advantage when it came time to make a deal. In fact, I'm not sure how I managed to get out of the place with this guitar for only $40. He usually had a pretty inflated idea of what his guitars were worth and I always had to talk him down from the mountain top.

For some reason he didn't seem to think this one was worth all that much and I got a deal. I'll be the first to admit, this one was definitely better looking than sounding. I always thought it would be cool to have an old archtop though and, at the very least, this one would look cool over in the corner.

It was made by Truetone, which was the house brand at Western Auto. Check out the "WA" logo included on the headstock badge. It was made by the same people that made Kay and Harmony and many other "house" brands at the big department store chains of the era. According to the catalog page I found, it originally sold for a whopping $25.95 and was the "Super Auditorium Standard" model. For an extra $10.50 you could get a "sturdy" case for it with a "luggage handle for convenience."

So, even though 40 years later I only paid $40 for it, that's still more than it cost new with a case back in 1964.

What happened to this gem? Well, since it didn't really sound that great and the action was just a tad bit high (and I'm no repairman), I eventually put it up for sale on eBay and, even with a very honest description of the guitar, it still sold for a fair amount over $100. I don't remember how much exactly to be honest, but I do remember being pretty happy with the whole thing. It was in pretty darn good condition despite riding around in that guy's van packed full of old surfboards, fishing gear, worthless stereo equipment and a bunch of scratched up aluminum softball bats. I'm sure whoever won it was pretty pleased.

P.S. I found the catalog page over at Vintaxe.com.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found this same guitar last week, it is so cool and worth every Pennie I spent. My cousin is a expert guitar tech and probably owns more guitars then I've dreamed about. That being said, he said he'll set it up to play and sound great. It did come in the the action high which he said does effect the tone and playability. Thanks for your article.