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

Vintage guitar catalogs for sale

Vintage 1950s Gibson Hangtag Case Candy Les Paul Standard ES-335 ES-175 1959 58

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, 60618, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$125

Vintage Correct Parts is proud to offer, for your consideration, A completely original and fantastic Vintage 1950's Gibson Hangtag Originally from a Century lapsteelSame tag used on 50's Les Pauls and 335's!! Use it for the model of your choice! Great condition! Get it back to stock, get it VINTAGE CORRECT FLAT RATE PRIORITY USPS SHIPPING! WE SHIP WORLDWIDE!!!... more

Vintage 1968 Vox Full Line Catalog Guitars Amplifiers, Original, Rare w Prices.

SALTILLO, MISSISSIPPI, 38866, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$145

This is a great opportunity to own a rare, original Vintage 1968 Vox Catalog . Probably their best catalog ever, 32 pages. In very good condition for its age and use. Distributed by Thomas Organ Company. Every item has a hand written sales price from the dealer. See photos. Very nice rare music catalog. See photos: front and back cover, center staples, several pictures of items and prices (wish I could buy a few at these prices).... more

Gibson 1974 Guitar Brochure

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, 10011, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

C $80

1974 Gibson brochure . Very cool. If you have any questions please ask for this is a final 'as-is' auction. International bidders please ask if we ship to your country and for a price quote before you bid. Thanks for looking and enjoy!... more

1978 USA FENDER TELECASTER GUITAR HANG TAG OWNERS MANUAL CASE CANDY 1979

RICHARDSON, TEXAS, 75081, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$139

ORIGINAL 1978 FENDER STICKER, NO MISSING PAGES, LIGHTLY AMBERED FROM AGE, NORMAL LIGHT WEAR AS SHOWN, ORIGINAL VINTAGE PATINA, MEASURES 5 5" X 3 5" . THANKS FOR LOOKING!... more

1975 Original Gibson Solid Body Series- 12 page Brochure-MINT

FAIRPORT, NEW YORK, 14450, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$44

This is the original 1975 GIBSON SOLID BODY SERIES 12 page brochure - 43 years ago!MINT CONDITION!!!Cover picture of Carlos Santana playing his white L6-SThis brochure includes pictures and info on:L5-SL6-SSG STANDARDSG SPECIALMARAUDER Enlarge the pictures for greater detail. All the items I list are from my personal collection. Over the years I've acquired many music related pieces. The time has come to sell all the gems that I have acquired and kept in pristine condition over the years. Rather... more

1974 USA FENDER MUSICMASTER BASS GUITAR HANG TAG OWNERS MANUAL CASE CANDY 1975

RICHARDSON, TEXAS, 75081, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$195

ORIGINAL 1974 FENDER, NO MISSING PAGES, LIGHTLY AMBERED FROM AGE, NO CREASES, ORIGINAL VINTAGE PATINA . THANKS FOR LOOKING!... more

1982 Greco Super Real Flying V Flame Maple Top Non Catalog Model, Japan Fujigen

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, 98117, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1299

Up for sale, a 1982 Greco Flying V in excellent, 100% original condition and in perfect working order. An extremely rare non-catalog model, this upscale Greco features a bound flame maple top, clearly echoing the Gibson CMT Flying Vs introduced the same year. One of the more unique "lawsuit era" instruments to come at the peak of Japan's most storied era of guitar production, this Flying V faithfully replicates the specs of Gibson's CMT model, and boasts a pair of PAF-style PU-2 pickups with ... more

1966 Epiphone Crestwood Custom - Hang Tags, Receipt, Gibson-made SG Wilshire

LAKE STEVENS, WASHINGTON, 98258, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$3599

Up for sale is this fabulously minty 1966 Epiphone Crestwood Custom, complete with vintage sales receipt, warranty card, and hang tag--all with matching serial numbers.   I also have two digital pictures of the original owner playing this guitar in the 1970s. This guitar was purchased by Mr. Ralph Guerriero of Harwood Heights, Illinois for the sum of $236 25 from Tinucci’s Music Center in Elmwood Park, Illinois. At the end of the 1950s, the Epiphone company was purchased by Gibson, one of ... more

VINTAGE NORMA ACOUSTIC GUITAR 70S JAPAN WG60 ORIGINAL HANG TAG MARTIN STRINGS

HOWARD, OHIO, 43028, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$450

VINTAGE NORMA ACOUSTIC GUITAR 70S JAPAN WG60 ORIGINAL HANG TAG AND CASE. Good condition, pick guard removed years ago, finish a little rough there probably re varnished? and small screw holes filled. This guitar was made to look like a Gibson Hummingbird. Plenty of character. Action good about 1 / 8 " at 7th fret . Neck has just the correct amount of relief. Has mother of pearl deco on fret board and bridge. Also has mother of pearl flower on top. Usually during the 70s these were modeled after ... more

VINTAGE 1979 USA FENDER PRECISION BASS GUITAR INSPECTION HANG TAG 1980

PLANO, TEXAS, 75025, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$59

ALL AUCTIONS PAYPAL ONLY, WILL SHIP TO YOUR PAYPAL MATCHING ADDRESS ONLY, NO ALTERNATE SHIP ADDRESS. WINNING BIDDER TO PAY WITHIN 2 DAYS OF AUCTION CLOSE. ANY NEW EBAYERS ( LESS THAN 5 POSITIVE TRANSACTIONS) EMAIL ME BEFORE BIDDING, OR YOUR BID WILL BE CANCELLED. TEXAS RESIDENTS ARE REQUIRED TO PAY 8 25% SALES TAX. PLEASE ASK ALL QUESTIONS EARLY…SOMETIMES I AM REQUIRED TO BE AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER. INTERNATIONAL EBAYERS: BIDDER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY AND ALL IMPORT DUTIES, TAXES OR FEES. YOUR ... more

1920s Gibson Junior Instruments advertising brochure Guitar Banjo Mandolin

SCHENECTADY, NEW YORK, 12302, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$50

You are bidding on a 1920s era Gibson Junior Instruments pamphlet, this is an original and not a re-printed item. The pamphlet is small, measuring 6 1 / 4" by 3 1 / 4 " , and folds out to 4 pages front and back. Inside you'll find a brief introduction to the philosophy behind the offering of these more budget priced instruments along with photos of Gibson endorsing artists. The instruments pictured and advertised in the pamphlet at the Style L Junior Concert sized guitar, the Style A Junior ... more

1969 Targ & Dinner Musical Instruments Catalog - Chicago Vintage Guitars 426 pgs

SAINT CHARLES, ILLINOIS, 60174, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

C $167

1969 Targ & Dinner Musical Instruments Catalog - Chicago Vintage Guitars 426 pgs Listing for a 1969 Targ & Dinner Musical Instruments Catalog. Condition: Pages are separating from spine, but not completely detached. See pic 3. I noticed one page has a small piece cut out (see pic 8). Let me know if you have questions. USPS Media Mail shipping is $3 and will include tracking. Your item will be packaged safely. Feel free to contact me with any questions. I do combine shipping. I accept paypal. ... 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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