Vintage Guitar Catalogues

Guitar catalogue scans 1950s-1980s

Guitar companies have pretty much always printed catalogues, and aspiring guitarists have always pored over the different models, usually way out of their reach... Perhaps one day... But they can also be very useful when researching a vintage instrument today. The original catalogues, price lists, brochures, owner's manuals, and other promotional material can be really useful in establishing dates, but also giving general information on how the manufacturer intended it to be used. Vintage guitar catalogues are getting almost as collectable as the guitars they feature, and when included as 'case candy' can certainly increase the desirability of a vintage guitar.

vintage guitar catalogues

Unfortunately the originals can be very hard to track down; some are quite commonly listed on auction sites like eBay, but in a lot of cases, few were ever printed, and the vast majority were simply discarded. Some of the rarer brochures and leaflets can sell for high prices; usually tens, but often several hundred pounds/euros/dollars.

A number of old and rare catalogues are included on this site, in order to aid guitar identification. Most contain a guitars intended specifications, but these original documents almost always contained exceptions and errors, so this information has to be treated with caution.

The catalogue scans on this site are sorted by manufacturer: follow the links to find vintage guitar catalogues, brochures and owner's manuals, primarily 1950s-1970s.

Overseas distributor guitar catalogues

Guitars sold worldwide tended to have an overseas agent looking after the distribution and advertising in that particular territory. For example, in the early 1960s, Selmer were the UK distributor for numerous non-UK brands: Hofner from Germany, Hagstrom from Sweden, and Gibson from the US. UK brand VOX were distributed by the Thomas organ company in the US, whilst Vox's parent company JMI distributed Fender in the UK. So British catalogue listings for Gibson and Hofner, for example, appeared in Selmer catalogues.

Other examples include Merson, and later Ampeg, distributing Hagstrom, and Sorkin distributing Hofner in the USA. In the UK Boosey and Hawkes distributed Guild and Arbiter distributed Gretsch.

Catalogues were typically available from guitar dealers and by mail from the manufacturers themselves (or the distributors in overseas territories). What's more, some larger music stores produced their own catalogues. Often these contained pages from the manufactures own catalogues, but sometimes they were entirely separate. Examples include LD Heater in the US, and Bell music in the UK.

Some of the bigger manufacturers (most notably Fender in the early 1960s) started including somewhat slimmed down catalogues in the centre pages of popular music magazines such as Downbeat. Later Gretsch, Gibson and other companies followed suit. Early catalogues were naturally black and white, with the occasional two-colour font or page design. Some of the first full colour guitar publicity was produced by Gretsch in the 1950s. Though by the mid-1960s guitar sales were at a peak, and most manufacturers were using colour, often producing lushly designed full-line catalogues containing all guitars, basses, amplifiers, banjos etc produced by the company at that time.

Since the 1970s, colour printing has been the norm. All but the smallest companies print catalogues in significantly larger quantities than in the previous decades.

See also - Vintage guitar advertising

Catalogue updates on this site

Fender 1963 catalogue"The Choice of Professional and Student Musicians Everywhere" This eight page catalogue was included as an insert in the 1963 annual "school music" issue of Downbeat magazine (September 1963). As well as keyboards and pedal steels, this catalog contains seven guitars, three basses and ten amplifiers - from student guitars such as the Musicmaster and Duotone to professional models like the new Jaguar.
1981 Gibson Gibson Rosetti catalogue (UK) 20 pages, black and white with color front cover. In the middle of 1981, Rosetti took over distribution of the Gibson line in the UK. Rosetti were a very big name in Britain, having distributed Epiphone since at least 1963, as well as Hagstrom and others. This catalogue was produced at the tail end of 1981, and introduces a number of models to the UK, such as the MV-II, MV-X guitars and the Victory basses, the GGC-700 and the Flying V bass. Some of these models were so short-lived that they were actually never included in US brochures. The cover image (reproduced in part here) showed some of the earliest demonstration models, including a Victory with a highly unusual white scratchplate.
1982 Gibson loose-leaf publicity sheets Gibson produced a series of single sheet flyers in 1982, promoting some of their newer models (Victory bass and Multi-Voice guitars, Chet Atkins Classic Electric and the already best-selling Sonex-180 Deluxe), and a few classic reissues (30th anniversary Les Paul Standard and Heritage Flying V) - all of which were received with some applause at the 1982 Atlanta NAMM show. These flyers all contained one or more side-panel, that folded out with model specifications, but were also designed to be reproduced in guitar magazines of the time without the extra fold out.
1966 Selmer guitar catalogue The 1965/1966 Selmer guitar catalogue contained guitars by a number of different makers imported for the UK market, the most numerous being German-made Hofner electrics, acoustics and basses. There is also a fairly large Gibson section, but it by no means contains all instruments produced under that brand at the time. Other instruments featured include guitars and basses by Hagstrom and Futurama, and Brazilian acoustic guitars by Giannini. 44 pages, with UK pricing in guineas.
1981 Gibson Sonex pre-owners manual The Gibson Sonex series pre-owners 'manual' was produced for circulation in early summer 1981, along with nine other manuals representing different segments available from Gibson at that time. Rather than a manual in the conventional sense, it is actually a mini folder with three loose-leaf inserts with catalogue-style image and description, one each for the 180 Deluxe, 180 Custom, and a new model, the Sonex Artist. The Sonex-180 Standard was not included, having been dropped from the Gibson line earlier in 1981.
1980 Gibson Sonex-180 owners manual Gibson Sonex series owners manual - 16 pages of information for the care and operation of the Gibson Sonex guitar: pickups, electronics, controls, coil tap, tune-o-matic bridge, tailpiece and stringing. Pertains to the Sonex-180 Deluxe, Standard and Custom models.
1965 Harmony guitar catalogue Original vintage catalogue scan. Harmony produced regular full-colour catalogues throughout the 1960s, but because these catalogues were released pretty much annually, there were only incremental changes from year to year, sometimes the only differences were the prices listed within. 1965 was an absolute boom time for American guitar manufacture, and this catalogue includes most of the best-known Harmony models: Rocket, Meteor, Silhouette, H75/H76/H77/H78, but it is the last publicity for the Stratotone guitars which were phased out later that year.
1963 Vox Precision in Sound brochureThis early Vox brochure comes from summer 1963, still the early days of JMI production, and shortly before the beat boom of the mid 1960s. At this time, Vox guitars were built in the UK, primarily for the British market. The company had refined it's production methods, to some extent, and many of the guitars shown are quite different from those in the Choice of the Stars catalogue from late 1962. Includes primarily Vox solid body guitars, basses and amplifiers. See other Vox catalogue scans here.
1960 Selmer Guitars and Strings catalogue, The 1960 Selmer guitar catalogue featured a whole range of acoustic, electric semi-acoustic, and solid body guitars manufactured by Hofner. There were also a small number of Hofner-made (but Selmer branded) acoustic guitars, Futurama branded solid bodies, and a Futurama electric upright bass. From the very fine (and even shorter lived) Golden Hofner, to the budget Selmer 222 flat top. Monochrome, 32 pages
1966 Goya Electric Guitars catalogue, Goya was well-known for it's acoustic guitars, produced by Levin in Sweden; but in the mid 1960s they added a number of Italian-built electric guitars and basses. Semi-acoustic models such as the 105, 107 and 109 Rangemaster guitars and Panther II bass were made by Polverini, whilst solid body models 116 and 118 were made by Galanti. These were well-built good quality instruments, but perhaps too expensive to sell in large numbers.
1962 Vox 'Choice of the Stars' catalogue, This is one of the earliest JMI catalogues to show guitars, and although undated it was most likely printed in late 1962 or early 1963. There are many well-known Vox guitar and amplifier models shown, amongst several that would be completely redesigned before appearing again; the most interesting examples are perhaps the Phantom I and Phantom II which are electronically quite distinct from the Phantom that would follow a little later. The Vox Escort and Vox Soloist only appear in this brochure, being deleted before the next was printed in mid-1963.
1972 Gibson showcase brochuresIn 1972 Gibson produced a series of 'Guitar of the Month' brochures, each dedicated to one of their high end models, the Les Paul Recording guitar, L5-CES, ES-175D, Super 400-CES, ES-355TD-SV and Byrdland. Each brochure was a single sheet folded into four panels, with details of the instruments themselves, their features, musical purpose, and a little history behind the development of each guitar. Only the Les Paul Recording was a new model; the others were all well established in the Gibson line. Follow the link to see scans and further information on these leaflets and other Gibson guitar catalogues from the CMI and Norlin periods.

Older updates here


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Vintage guitar catalogs for sale

1962 Orig Pre CBS Fender Strat With Hang Tags Case Candy Vintage Stratocaster

CLOQUET, MINNESOTA, 55720, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$29900

1962 Orig KILLER D Fat Wide Fender Strat NEVER Ever see This . 100% but Pro Re Fret . All 3 Pickups are at 5 9-6k All Orig Hang Tags and Case Candy. All that is Orig but the polishing cloth .but the wrapper and package from the original 50 year old Strat is I mean 1962 Key Chain, with BOTH Keys to look up the Excellent To Mint Brown Case???   Neck profile is "D " BIG U Shape!  This is going on recorded as one of the Widest, Biggest NECK I ever had on a PRE CBS Strat . This is a July 62 Neck, ... more

RARE 1974 Gibson CITATION #14 electric archtop featured in 1975 Gibson catalog!!

CARBONDALE, ILLINOIS, 62901, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$27900

Add Me to Your Favorite Sellers Olivia's Vintage would like to present this one-of-a-kind 1974 Gibson custom ordered Citation which was the 14th one made. This guitar was part of the Tsumura collection and is featured on page 58 of the Tsumura Collection book. It is also the exact guitar Gibson used to display the craftsmanship of the custom ordered Citation series in a two-page spread in their full-line 1975 catalog. Both the oversized catalog / binder and the more common catalog with Howard ... more

FENDER Stratocaster Guitar 1966 Vintage One Owner Strap, Case, Catalog & Cloth

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO, 87505, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$12499

Vintage 1966 Fender Stratocaster guitar and original case, original ashtray, original trem arm, original polish cloth and original 1966 Musical instruments catalog with Bernie's music store stamp on the backOne owner guitar with a note from the original owner who purchased the guitar new from Bernie's Music in Dayton Ohio in March of 1967Serial number 173360Pickups all have 1966 date stampsNice vintage condition with common signs of age and reasonable use Appears original except the neck pickup ... more

1987 Steinberger GL4T Clean No issues Complete catalog and papers RARE Transtrem

LADERA RANCH, CALIFORNIA, 92694, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$7300

1987 Steinberger GL4T Transtrem Clean No issues Complete catalog and papers wit sticks. I have the term arm in the original Gig Bag that is also in great shape. RARE Never repaired modified. Sounds and plays amazing.... more

original 1975 Gibson ES-345 custom color WHITE with HANG TAGS + paperwork! CLEAN

CARBONDALE, ILLINOIS, 62901, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$6390

Add Me to Your Favorite Sellers Olivia's Vintage would like to present this 1975 Gibson Stereo ES-345 in its original custom ordered WHITE finish. It has a very nice straight neck with great frets. It's all original with the exception of the added '70's Gibson Vibrato which was added shortly after the guitar was purchased new. The original trapeze tailpiece is included along with the original case, hang tags, adjustment wrench, switchcraft stereo cable, a photo of the original owner and the ... more

Super Clean 1966 Fender Jaguar one owner with hangtag & original case

PALM BEACH FLORIDA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$4499

The original manual shows the matching serial number and purchase date of December 19, 1967. This one owner 1966 Fender Jaguar was a Christmas gift and looks nearly as perfect today as it did under the tree on Christmas Morning over 50 years ago. Aside from a few small paint chips and scratches shown in the photos, this guitar is in superb condition. Includes the original Fender leather strap, hang tag, and Fender hardshell case. Potentiometer codes: 34th week of 1966 Neck date: October 1966 ... more

all original 1966 Fender JAGUAR Sunburst CLEAN w / matching number HANG TAG!!!

CARBONDALE, ILLINOIS, 62901, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$4190

Add Me to Your Favorite Sellers Olivia's Vintage would like to present this 1966 Fender Jaguar in its original brilliant Sunburst finish. It has a great playing neck with great frets. It's all original and 100% complete along with its original hardshell case, tremolo arm, bridge cover, and a matching serial number hang tag. It's in EXCELLENT condition with only some minor nicks dings, very light belt buckle wear, and other very minor cosmetic wear. Everything remains structurally sound with no... more

1984 Gibson US Map Guitar OLD NEW STOCK Hang Tags OHSC !!LOOK!!

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO, 80918, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$3995

Purchased at Drum City near Denver on 1 / 20 / 1986Put away as purchased and never touched It’s seen the light of day on a handful of occasions to show friends and relatives. Original hang tags, catalog, warranty card with purchase info. Original hard shell case has been moved a bunch so there are minor dings on the case This is the original US MAP case internally created for this unique shaped guitar. You’ll probably never see a new old stock for years. There were 3 and 4 knob versions. ... more

1965 Fender Mustang Guitar w / Original Case, Strap, Cord, Hang Tag

AMHERST, NEW HAMPSHIRE, 03031, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$2995

Fantastic 1965 Fender Mustang electric guitar, serial no. 103193, featuring a bold Dakota Red finish and 24˝ scale neck. This gorgeous guitar shows remarkably little wear for its age. Some checking on the back. Completely original including the original hardshell case with tremolo bar, unused guitar strap, cord and Hang Tag instruction booklet. Investment grade. This guitar is from my personal collection. Please look closely at photos. Have a look at our other auctions and books available right... more

Competition Blue 1973 Fender Mustang, all original with hangtag & hardshell case

PALM BEACH FLORIDA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$2799

All original vintage Fender Mustang, complete with the original hangtag with matching serial number and hardshell case. Rare and desirable Competition Blue finish with racing stripes on the body. Neck date = January 1973Neck pickup = 5 89k OhmsBridge pickup = 5 85k OhmsPotentiometer dates = 36th week of 1972Pickup date code = 51st week of 1972 Clean condition with very little wear. The original finish shows the fine checking you like to see on a vintage Fender. Full height original frets show ... more

Near Mint 1966 Epiphone FT-45 Cortez Acoustic Guitar w / OCBC & Hang Tag!

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, 60656, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1995

Up for sale is a beautiful and all original Kalamazoo made 1966 Epiphone FT-45 Cortez Acoustic Guitar in excellent condition and perfect working order. This instrument plays amazingly with low action, no buzzing and it sounds huge! There are no issues whatsoever. Cosmetically, this guitar is extremely clean and has been well taken care of over the years. It is the nicest FT-45 we’ve ever seen and definitely the nicest one for sale online at the moment. This is as close to collectors grade as ... more

1981 Dean V Baby Blue Electric Guitar with 81 Dean Guitars Catalog

OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS, 66223, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1995

Item DescriptionTitle:1981 Dean V Baby Blue Electric Guitar with 81 Dean Guitars CatalogDescription:Super nice playing vintage 1981 DEAN V with OHSC which is in good condition. This 1981 Dean V guitar though is in overall somewhat rough but decent used condition overall; considering the guitars age of close to 38 years now. This vintage 1981 Dean V guitar is in somewhere between fair- to more accurately described good / decent condition overall. This Dean V has been a players guitar in the past ... more

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There are 4 comments on this article so far. Add your comment

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Steve M. Comment left 24th October 2014 22:10:28 reply
Is there a way to tell a GENUINE 1960s Fender guitar catalog from a later reprint?
abdel Comment left 22nd October 2012 21:09:06 reply
que c'est beau
snowboy Comment left 30th July 2012 11:11:50 reply
Nice collection of catalogues, i've got some rare Vox guitar literature if you want to trade please email me at
Ron Comment left 3rd June 2012 21:09:21 reply
I have a Burnside by Guild accoustic guitar. In the soundhole, the sticker says serial number of B1134....and the model number originally has G-25 but that is scribbled out in ink and BE 65 is written over G-25. Can anyone give me any information on when this was made? I've had it for many many years and never learned to play due to a shoulder injury that never healed. Any guess on what it's worth? Need to sell along with my 1978 Takamine F312S acoustic guitar. Thanks

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Gibson Vintage Reissue Electric Guitar Strings

Gibson Vintage Reissue Strings

These Gibson strings are made to the original 1950s specifications - pure nickel with a great tone - the perfect choice for vintage Gibson (and other) guitars

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