I recently visited Retrofret's Brooklyn showroom and felt right at home. The shop's friendly staff encourages browsing their wide and unusual selection of vintage guitars, basses, banjos, mandolins, ukuleles and amps.Most of the instruments aren't locked up in cases; they're there to play.
That's Retrofret's Peter Kohman playing this magnificent instrument, and it was my favorite of the guitars he played that night. The sound spoke to me.
Right to left: a 1969 Fender Telecaster, 1956 Fender Telecaster and a 1975 Fender Telecaster.
That's CNET's Ty Pendlebury enjoying a 1934 Gibson mandolin -- it's one of the rarest Gibson instruments ever made.
Peter Kohman digging the sound of a 1915 Dyer Harp guitar.
This hollow-body electric guitar was made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and has a sunburst top, laminated maple body, mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard and an original tweed hardshell case.
A selection of 1920s and 1930s tenor and plectrum banjos.
This one is considered by aficionados to be the Holy Grail of Gibson flattop guitars.
Peter again, this time with a prime example of a 1958 Rickenbacker Model 335 Capri guitar.
Here's a collection of Retrofret's lap steel guitars. I loved the look of the 1953 National Dynamic lap steel electric guitar (bottom row, third from the left), that was made in Chicago. Check out the wild two-tone lacquer finish!
This "Soloist Custom" Model Theremin, circa 1938, is one of the few instruments that Leon Theremin personally made or had built under his direction in his New York workshop. The Theremin was one of the very first electronic instruments.
That's my friend Gene with a Fender 1956 Telecaster at Retrofret. It was made in Fullerton, California; it has a blond lacquer finish, ash body and maple neck, and it comes with the original tweed hardshell case.
Peter Kohman playing a 1943 Martin 000-28 that was made in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. It has a natural lacquer finish, Brazilian rosewood back and sides, spruce top; a mahogany neck with an ebony fingerboard, and it comes with the original black tolex hardshell case.
This 1952 Gibson SJ-200 guitar was owned by Dave Dudley, famous for his tune "Six Days on the Road." This guitar was Dudley's stage instrument for many years, and was probably used for recording sessions as well.
Retrofret's Peter Kohman demoing a 1934 Gibson L-5 guitar for me. It was the preeminent orchestra guitar of its era.
This Gibson banjo was made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and has a tobacco sunburst finish, maple body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, and comes with the original tweed hardshell case.
Peter Kohman looking good with this 1940 Gibson Super 400N guitar.
This Gibson Les Paul Junior solid-body electric guitar was made in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It has a cherry lacquer finish, a mahogany body and neck and a rosewood fingerboard.
In this photo, Martin guitars are up front, Gibsons are along the back wall, and everything else is in the middle.