000-42 Martin Guitar: A Love Story, and an Auction

This Martin Guitar Style 000-42 is coming up for auction at Chrisite’s on October 13, 2009

This man had dreams…of playing guitar, and did so for many years, but mostly for his family…

Gale German Playing a Martin 000 42 Guitar

(Gale German playing his Martin 000-42 Guitar circa early 1940’s)

In the late thirties and forties throughout the middle of this great country there were many bands, and of course the musicians that played in these bands. And they traveled from small town to small town, and the more popular of them made it into the big cities. Saw dust floors and boozy dreamy nights, and entertainment for the workers staying out perhaps a bit to late, to listen and dance to the music.

One of these musicians was named Gale German. I know you never heard of him. He never became famous, but your mom or dad may have at one time danced to the music of the band he played in, especially if your parents liked Western Swing, because that is the kind of music that Gale German played.

He was 18 years old, and I speculate that he was one of those kinds of musicians who had a good ear, who was reaching for the best sound that a guitar could make, because he wanted the best instrument that money could buy – The one with the recognized best sound – he wanted a Martin 000-42 Guitar. But he could not afford its price all at once, so he asked his father for some help, and the cool thing about this is, that he must have had a father who believed in him, because his father did help him buy this guitar.

Gale German Played Guitar…

Martin Guitar 000 42 Front Detail

…Auction Estimate $50,000.00 – $70,000.00…

Look at the front of this guitar and what you see is the face of magic, the mar of picking and strumming, the patina of effort. The way he must have loved every minute of playing – the way he treated this guitar was that it was an instrument of music – something that produced melody and smiles and movement. It was only precious in this respect, it was never meant to be an art object. This is the kind of guitar that has in the words of Kerry Keane, “Mojo…The magic that a prior musician has imparted into it…”

…and though Gale German loved this guitar…he also fell in love and married a wonderful woman, and the two of them raised a family…

Martin Guitar 000 42 Head

So Gale German put away thoughts of cow town beer halls, and honky-tonks, and settled down to raise his family. Every once in a while he would pull out his old Martin Guitar and play some tune or other; raising in those moments the resonance of past times, when as a young man he flirted with the world of music and tapped his toe to the time of their old songs.

And the story of this Guitar and the man who played it, might have ended there – untold, if not for the intelligence of his wife…

Martin Guitar 000 42 Back

Even at eighty Mrs. German knew how to navigate the internet, knew how to find things, or people who could help her understand how to find out what things like Martin Guitars are worth. Not every one gets as lucky as Mrs. German. She found Kerry Keane of Christie’s Auction house. Imagine that…she located one of the few people in the industry who not only understood what the guitar was, but also how to properly contextualize its place in the world of guitars.

He just happens to be a world class expert in how to appraise the value of musical instruments, and he works on the side of the consignor. So he is like the best kind of advocate, one who has a passion for the “Thing” not just its “Value.”

Because Mrs. German had the good instinct to seek out advice from only the best experts, her husbands Old Martin Guitar will get its “Props” on October 13, 2009 when it goes up for auction at Christie’s for an estimated value of $50,000.00 – $70,000.00.

Here’s a complete picture of the Martin Guitar…that Gale German played…

Martin Guitar 000 42

This guitar needed to be tuned up, needed to be refreshed, needed some simple repairs…Which Mr. Keane saw to in such a fashion, that the guitar can still be said to be “Still original in all of its parts.”

And here is one of my favorite parts to this story. When the work was done on the guitar, Gale German’s son flew in to see the guitar, and there at Christie’s, Kerry played a song for the son called, “Deep River Blues.”

Here’s a version of Deep River Blues by Hall and Oates

Here are some other musical instrument Antiques Roadshow Appraisals conducted by Kerry Keane.

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