When you hear the name Bigsby, you probably think of the Bigsby tremolo, one of the most important inventions in electric guitar history.
What you may not know, however, is that Paul Bigsby – the inventor of said vibrato – also made a number of pioneering pedal steel guitars for some of the best country music players of the 1940s and 1950s, and an even smaller number of standard electric guitars made to order for legends like Merle Travis, Billy Byrd and Hank Garland.
Now, one of these ultra-rare standard Bigsby guitars, a 1958 semi-hollow electric said to be in “very good” condition, has gone up for sale on Reverb.com.
Moreover, the owner of the guitar, Retrofret Vintage Guitars, says it was the very last standard guitar Bigsby ever built. With this remarkable history in mind, the guitar was listing for the eye-watering sum of $750,000.
Although the exact amount of standard Spanish-neck electric guitars that Bigsby built is unknown, it is thought no more than 50. On top of that, as made-to-order guitars, each Bigsby six-string was truly unique, further increasing the value of those that survive in good condition.
This particular instrument was made in mid to late 1958 for a man named Larry (hence the inlay on the pickguard), who – according to to the list – was a guitarist who operated a studio somewhere in the Midwest.
It has an uneven, double-cutaway body (which is indeed semi-hollow, although it feels solid) with a shallow, hooked upper cutaway and thin lower horn. Retrofret said that the unusual Bigsby body design is similar to another early 1956 Paul Bigsby model, but the “Larry” model features more extreme cutaways.
The semi-hollow guitar features a maple top and back and walnut sides, while the neck is laminated maple with a walnut center core and rosewood fingerboard with pearl inlays.
In terms of electronics, the ’58 Bigsby is armed with two single-coil pickups that have been hand-wound by Paul Bigsby and are housed in milled aluminum covers. Controls come in the form of master volume and master tone knobs, and a three-way pickup selector.
The guitar’s white plastic headstock mimics the shape of its headstock and its tuners are clip-on Kluson Deluxe. The guitar’s spec sheet is completed with, what else, a Bigsby tremolo.
Obviously, an instrument of such extraordinary value and rarity is bound to arouse some skepticism, but Retrofret Vintage Guitars is bragging a five-star rating on Reverb, and all of the background information given in the listing appears to verify.
To see the full list of the 1958 Paul Bigsby “Larry” guitar for yourself, stop by Reverberation.