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

1971 Original Gibson Les Paul Recording / Triumph Brochure- w / Soundsheet -MINT

FAIRPORT, NEW YORK, 14450, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$138

This is the original 1971 GIBSON LES PAUL RECORDING / LES PAUL TRIUMPH BASS brochure introducing LOW IMPEDANCE FOR HIGH PERFORMANCE to the world - 47 years ago!MINT CONDITION!!!This brochure even has a 2 sided Evatone soundsheet with recordings of these instruments A RARE Collectors opportunity to acquire a nearly half century old, truly unique, GIBSON LES PAUL brochure !!! Enlarge the pictures for greater detail. All the items I list are from my personal collection. Over the years I've ... more

Vintage Gretsch Hang Tag 60's Exc

DALLAS, TEXAS, 75218, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$35

Nice 1960's Gretsch Hang Tag for electric guitars. Sale is for the lower 48 states only.... more

1970's Original Gibson Byrdland Guitar of the Month Brochure

FAIRPORT, NEW YORK, 14450, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

C $40

>>>>>GIBSON BYRDLAND... more

1970 Guild Starfire I Bass with Case & Hang Tags Bi Sonic Pickup

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, 21224, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$2750

Check US Out By Clicking the About Me Icon! 1970 Guild Starfire I Bass AA nice clean and tidy Starfire Bass that comes with its original Hardshell Case, Hang Tag, Case Keys, and Guild Instruction Sheet. Original Cherry Finish with Black Edges over a Mahogany Body, the desirable original Hagstrom Bi Sonic pickup, Hand rests, F-hole Label intact, and inlayed Guild Headstock Logo. An excellent condition bass displaying some light play wear and some typical heel cap deterioration. Great looking ... more

Vintage Used Memphis Made in Korea Black Wall Hanger Electric Guitar Instrument

ASHLEY FALLS, MASSACHUSETTS, 01222, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

C $101

Vintage, used, Memphis, made in Korea, black, wall hanger, electric guitar, instrument. This item shows overall wear including scratches, discoloration, surface rust, missing paint, there is an unoriginal hook found to the bottom of the guitar, missing strings, missing knobs and covers, unoriginal writing found to the back, and dirtiness found. This item measures approximately 11 5” x 2 25” x 37” at its largest dimensions, and this item is sold as is, for decorative purposes only. Please ... more

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

LAKE STEVENS, WASHINGTON, 98258, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$4999

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.   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 their main competitors.  The new line-up of Epiphone guitars would become counterparts to ... more

1975 Original Gibson Thin Electric Acoustic Series- 8 page Brochure-MINT

FAIRPORT, NEW YORK, 14450, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$38

This is the original 1975 GIBSON THIN ELECTRIC ACOUSTIC SERIES 8 page brochure - from 43 years ago!MINT CONDITION!!!Cover picture of BB KING playing his ES-335!This brochure includes pictures and info on:ES-335TD-SVES-345TDES-335TDES-325TDEnlarge 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. ... more

1970's Original Gibson SUPER-400CES Guitar of the Month Brochure

FAIRPORT, NEW YORK, 14450, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

C $39

>>>>>GIBSON 400-CES... more

Vintage 1970's Gretsch Guitar Catalog

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

C $40

Very cool 70's Gretsch guitar catalog. In condition shown 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! Posted with eBay Mobile... 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

Vintage Epiphone Texan FT-79 60's Hang Tag NM

DALLAS, TEXAS, 75218, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$150

Vintage Epiphone Texan Hang Tag from the 1960's. Super clean. For sale in the lower 48 states only.... more

VINTAGE 1939 GRETSCH INSTRUMENT DEALER CATALOG! GUITARS / AMPS / BANJOS / HARMONICAS!

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA, 28213, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$499

VINTAGE 1939 GRETSCH INSTRUMENT DEALER CATALOG! GUITARS / AMPS / BANJOS / HARMONICAS!!!! A terrific collectible - A 1939 GRETSCH INSTRUMENT DEALER CATALOG! 9" x 12" 186 PAGES HARDCOVER CATALOG NUMBER 40 THE FRED, GRETSCH MFG. CO. DEALER CATALOG WITH PRICES, NOT FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC! GUITARS OF EVERY TYPE ELECTRIC GUITARS WITH AMPLIFIERS BANJOS MANDOLINS UKELELES VIOLINS CELLOS BOWS, CASES, STRINGS SEVERAL PAGES OF HARMONICAS BY THORENS, HOHNER, HOTZ & MORE STANDS KAZOOS & NOVELTIES BATONS ONE ... 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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