Gruhn Guitars: Nashville’s Guitar Nirvana

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

1974 Velazquez Classical (pictured above)

As a record producer, Chet Atkins was responsible for creating the “Nashville sound.” But Chet was a guitarist through and through. Inspired by guitarists like Merle Travis, Chet had a way of making songs sound like there was more than one instrument involved when he played them. He used his thumb for bass notes and his other fingers for the melody, all the while making it sound effortless. No one could play a song quite like Chet – many have tried.

Chet arranged classical pieces for guitar, and they all had that smooth Chet sound to them. Besides his signature “Country Gentlemen” Gretsch electric guitar, he also played classical guitar, in this case a Velazquez. This 1974 guitar was originally purchased by Jorge Morel, then given to Chet in 1975. He owned and played the guitar until his death in 2001, after which it was given back to Morel by Chet’s widow. – MATT SELLARS

2012 Collings OM2HA (pictured above)

The OM (which stands for orchestral model) is popular with finger-pickers of the folk variety and has become one of the most popular 14-fret models around.

The Collings OM2HA features an Adirondack spruce top and East Indian rosewood back and sides, along with herringbone trim and ivoroid binding. Bottom line: this is a guitar that looks and feels great. One can see why this easy-to-handle model is favored by pickers like Robert Earl Keen and Tom Russell.

Dave Johnson, a repair tech at Gruhn Guitars, says Collings makes some of the better new acoustic models on the market today. He attributes much of that to the tight tolerances found in their instruments (i.e., the thickness and shape of the guitar’s various parts) “When the tolerances are tighter, it’s going to sound better every time.” – C.O.

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