Retrofret - All Vintage, all the time.
GuitarsBanjosMandolinsUkes, Lutes, Tiples & Other Odd InstrumentsAmplifiers & EffectsEffects, Parts & Accessories

 Sold Items

Premier Concert Acoustic A-300 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar , c. 1958

Premier Concert Acoustic A-300 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar, c. 1958, made in Jersey City, NJ, natural lacquer finish, laminated mahogany back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, black hard shell case.

This rare flat top guitar is a bit of an oddball but actually a surprisingly fine instrument, better than we might have expected and a fine playing guitar. In the 1950's and '60's Premier guitars were "catalog" instruments in the most literal sense: the brand was owned and distributed exclusively through the Sorkin Music Company in New York city. As with many catalog brands, the brand name was applied to different instruments usually sourced from dedicated manufacturers.

While most contemporary catalog brands were actually built by the major Chicago factories-Harmony, Kay and Valco- the Premier guitars of the 1950s were sourced from the United Guitar Company of Jersey City, NJ. The fairly small United operation supplied several of the New York area jobbers and was capable of turning out fairly high quality instruments if paid to do so- John D'Angelico used their bodies when he was asked to build dedicated electric guitars. The Premier name -as its meaning implies- was applied to higher-grade United Guitars products, always with distinctive brand-specific cosmetic touches. The better known Premier electric guitars featured laminated wood bodies with high-quality maple veneers, expensive DeArmond and Franz pickups, and were decorated with Sorkin's unique glitter-infused plastic-an unmistakable touch.

The Premier brand was primarily applied to electric guitars and especially amplifiers, though the occasional bass, lap steel and flat-top acoustic can be found. This fully acoustic Dreadnought-style guitar is a fairly unusual offering for the company, possibly inspired by the klate-50's Folk boom. It was dubbed the Concert Acoustic A300, and appears in the line from 1956 to around 1959. The same instrument could also be had with a magnetic pickup at the end of the neck (as the E300) an idea shared at the time with Gibson, National and Martin.

The A300 is the least flashy of Premier guitars-there is no glitter anywhere- and presents as a fairly conventional dreadnought design. The body is built of mahogany with an X-braced spruce top, like similar designs from other companies. The headstock is faced with engraved plastic (another brand trademark) and there is a Gibson-like truss rod cover. Tuners are the same openback Waverly singles common to Gretsch, Guild and Martin at the time. The mahogany neck has bound rosewood fingerboard with BIG inlaid pearl dots and is shaped to a chunky U profile with a 1 11/16" nut and a 24 3/4" scale. The pickguard is a generic tortoise Celluloid piece and the soundhole ring inlay work is particularly sloppy-This was an likely unfamiliar task for United's workers, who mostly built archtops! The most unusual feature is an arched laminated mahogany back, something Epiphone had tried earlier and Guild adopted later-if you have the plywood press, why not use it! Many former Epiphone employees went to Guild in 1953 after the company left NYC; it’s conceivable some also went to United across the river. Guitar building was a comparatively small industry at the time and all the NY area companies show some degree of cross-pollination.

The A-300 was essentially Sorkin's attempt to take on the Martin D-18 or the Gibson J-50 in the "folk' market; at the time Guild did not offer a standard Dreadnought. The model listed for $145 plus case in 1956, rising to $157.50 in 1959, which made it actually fairly expensive for the time-between the cost of a J-50 and an SJ. Most Premier guitars are relatively rare today but this Jumbo flat top particularly unusual and it's likely these were built only in very small numbers. The guitar is actually a very good sounding and playing instrument; the sound is less Martin than Gibson, but with its own distinctive character. It puts out very good volume with some Dreadnought boom in the low end, but with very clear highs and makes a very good rhythm guitar. We were most pleasantly surprised by this guitar-before this example came out way, we had never seen one before and now it's a shop favorite!
Overall length is 41 1/4 in. (104.8 cm.), 15 5/8 in. (39.7 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 7/8 in. (9.8 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.). This guitar shows some general wear but remains in fine original condition overall. There are dings and scrapes but no large finish loss or heavy strum wear. It appears original save for newer bridge pins, the neck strap pin (a later addition), and a brass plate that was installed underneath the bridge plate that seems to be doing no should harm! Unfortunately the gold stick-on Sorkin/Multivox serial number tag from the back of the headstock has gone missing, but otherwise the instrument remains original and complete. Even all the binding is original, which is VERY rare for a United-built guitar; usually their celluloid has crumbled badly over time, an affliction shared with other builders from the NYC area who likely used the same plastic supplier. This guitar plays very well and we are happy to offer this rare and super cool New York area Dreadnought for sale. Excellent - Condition.

Item # 7913

This item has been sold.

Prices subject to change without notice.


| Home | Contact | Hours | Purchase | Search | Just Arrived |

Retrofret - New York String Service
233 Butler Street | Brooklyn, New York, 11217 USA
718 237 6092 Voice | 718 237 6092 Fax

All text and photographs © 2003 Retrofret and may not be reproduced without permission.