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 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

1971 Original Gibson Les Paul Recording Brochure 

NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA, 28560, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$38

1971 Original Gibson Les Paul Recording brochure in excellent 48 year old carefully stored condition as per pics. The six dots a above the 33 1 / 3 record are not defects, just the method they attached it. Ships in a USPS box so it makes it to it’s destination undamaged.... more

Vintage 1950 NATIONAL V33084 CHORD CHANGER LAP STEEL Guitar

GLOUSTER, OHIO, 45732, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$499

Vintage 1950 NATIONAL V33084 CHORD CHANGER LAP STEEL Guitar. There are sctratches in the finish. Everthing works. Case is in rough conditiin (see photos) Please, review all photos and written descriptions of the item being offered before you make your purchase. I offer a three (3) day return, with the buyer responsible for all return postage Returns areif;the item is As Not Discribed or, if the item is damaged in shipping In either condition, the buyer must contact .If the item is damaged in ... more

1973 74 75 76 Fender Twin Reverb Owners Manual with Protective Sleeve

NEWTON FALLS, OHIO, 44444, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$39

1973 74 75 76 Fender Twin Reverb Owners Manual with Protective Sleeve Click images to enlarge Description This is a Fender Twin Reverb Owners manual   I am sure it was from my '73 Twin, however, I believe it would be the same from '73-'77 or so   Nice shape with a bit of water mark   View all of the photo's   The amp is long gone and I no longer need this. Feel free to call me with any questions (330) 872-1932 Brian Pictures sell! Auctiva offers Free Image Hosting and Editing 250 Listing ... 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

1974 Guild D-35 Vintage Dreadnaught Acoustic Guitar Near Mint w / Case & Hangtag

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, 98117, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1599

Up for sale, a 1974 Guild D-35 in collector-grade condition, with an authoritative and powerful tone as well as the original case and hangtag. Built in Guild's Westerly, RI factory, this guitar is a crack-free, USA-made example that befits Guild's reputation for creating very well braced and roadworthy guitars with a robust and dynamic tone. Guild has been building dreadnought acoustic guitars since 1963, and their instruments are revered for their value, reliability, tone, responsiveness, ... more

1970's Original Gibson L-5CES Guitar of the Month Brochure

FAIRPORT, NEW YORK, 14450, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

C $38

>>>>>GIBSON L-5CES... more

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

1978 Stratocaster Hardtail Vintage Electric Guitar Mocha w / Case & Hangtag

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, 98117, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1799

Up for sale, a 1978 Fender Stratocaster Hardtail in excellent condition and in perfect working order. Currently fitted with a replacement maple 2019 Fender Classic 70s neck that matches the specs of the original, this Strat also comes complete with its original neck too. With a transparent Mocha finish on the solid ash body, this guitar sparkles and twangs with the best, delivering a tone that has great sustain and punch, weighing in at a hearty 9lbs on the dot. This guitar has ample power, ... 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

Vintage 1960's Gibson Hangtag Manual ES-335 SG Standard Les Paul Goldtop Custom

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, 60618, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

C $332

Vintage Correct Parts is proud to offer, for your consideration, A fantastic and original Vintage 1960's Gibson Hangtag / Manual A very cool piece of well preserved 1960's Gibson Case Candy Still has the original string attached and is VERY clean! Very rare - don't miss this one! Correct for your late 60's Les Paul Goldtop or Custom as well as a host of other vintage guitars ALL pages are in pristine condition - the warranty card was taken out (probably mailed in), but it is otherwise 100% ... more

1982 Fender Stratocaster 1957 Reissue OWNERS MANUAL 57 USA Fullerton

VINTAGE CITY,, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$249

PLEASE BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR AUTHENTICITY OF FULLERTON PARTS. FENDER 82 VINTAGE READY TO DROP ON YOUR VINTAGE STRATOCASTER !!! 1982 1983 1984 Fender Stratocaster 1957 Reissue OWNERS MANUAL 57 USA Fullerton !!! 1982 Fender Stratocaster OWNERS MANUAL from an early 1982 57 reissue instruction manual !! …. no rips, tears or folds. an excellent find !!!. replacement case candy for 1982 , 1983 , 1984 Fullerton . Fullerton USA !!!!!!!! someones in for a treat. read my feedback. everything i sell ... 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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