Goldberg’s Guitars

Dave Goldberg’s Electric Guitars

DaveGoldbergGrimshawGoldberg with his Grimshaw Archtop with the single Charlie Christian style bar magnet Pickup and scalloped end to the fingerboard.

Just spent more time looking through your wonderful website and read about Dave Goldberg. I think the archtop guitar he is holding in the photo is a Grimshaw G6. In the Grappelli film he is also playing a much modified Aristone. Later he used an ES175 which I imagine he brought back from the USA and later still a Guild Artist Award. He featured in Guild’s press adverts in the 1960‘s promoting the Artist Award. Great stuff, thank you!  Bob B

Dave Goldberg guitar is indeed an early (1930/40’s) Grimshaw G6. Grimshaw made the G6 for many years and it changed a lot over that period. Also the Grimshaw name was not put onto the headstocks until later.  Grimshaw Catalogues  About half way down the page you will see a G6 featured in a publication called “Pickings”  from 1945.   Have a look at the headstock inlay, the fretboard inlays and the fingerboard extension, I think they match the guitar in your photo.    I have no idea what the pick-up is, Bob B

Grimshaw – During the 50s they made many archtop, acoustic and electric models including the G3, G5, G6, and “Plectric” single cut away jazz style electric, all were archtop styles some with pickups built into the fret board (Grimshaw patented this type of pickup in USA and GB) Grimshaw called these invisible pickups, as they merged in with the end of the fingerboard, tone/volume controls were added to the scratch plate. The most popular model of the 1950s was the SS (short scale) Deluxe and custom models, the later having humbucker pickups, the styling on this model was a cross between a Gibson 335 and a Gretsch White Falcon, with an individual Grimshaw style of un-equal cutaways. These were good substitutes for the American guitars which were not imported into the UK (due to austerity measures post war). Some had a Grimshaw patented tremolo system. The SS models were very pretty guitars and played well, Grimshaw’s should have had more success with this model than they did.

Grimshaw Guitars – History

Grimshaw Origins

Simon Spillett, Author, Jazz Historian and award winning Saxophonist records that Dave Goldberg died on August 21st, 1969 aged 47.


AristoneArchtop60Aristone – Vintage guitars made by master luthier J.G.Abbott senior in London 1930’s.  At least as good as a top line Gibson of the period.  Many people only know about the later 1950’s low end plywood guitars built by Besson using the Aristone brand name, which they co-owned with Abbott from the 1920‘s. The 1950‘s guitars are very poor in comparison and more like a Framus or Hofner.

The 1930‘s Aristone Crown models are the very best of J.G.Abbott senior’s production, from the mid 1930’s.  The build is similar to a D’Angellico, hand carved spruce top, hand carved one piece back, one piece neck (no wings added for the headstock, just a single billet of the best quality mahogany available), gold hardware, 7/9 ply top binding, mother of pearl inlays, bound neck and F holes.

1930‘s Abbott ‘The Aristone’ Model L-W, are very rare and highly prized Guitar.  Grover mechanic’s, tailpiece and scratchplate. Solid hand carved top, Solid Honduran Mahogany flat back and sides, straight neck with good action, Brazilian Rosewood fingerboard. Meets (and often beats) the high standards of big name jazzers like 1930s Epiphone Emperor and a 1930s Gibson L5 guitars. A very comfortable neck and neck-width, not as fat as the 30s Gibsons, excellent low action, huge Acoustic tone, One can honestly say this plays and sounds better than most of them.

They sound as good as a D’angellico too !! Not to be confused with the guitars of J.G.Abbott Junior who also made very good guitars, but not quite as good as these. Abbott Victor Burlington by J.G.Abbott Junior made in 1940 which is very good but not a patch on the Aristone.  A very rare guitar with huge tone and volume eats Gibson L-5’s and Super 400’s for breakfast!

Aristone Archtop circa 1960 with Venetian cutaway

1947 Straten – Soloist
Guitar Attributed to Dave Goldberg


My father, a guitarist owned a Straten – Soloist Guitar manufacture around 1947.  It is very similar to the Straten “Symphony” but the “Soloist” has an electric pickup.  It is so unknown in Australia that every guitar shop I have presented it to  (one shop was called Rare Guitars) has never heard of Straten and all thought it was a Hofner.     Hugh Burton

The Guitar is a “Straten Soloist” registration number 213 by the Straten Musical Instruments Ltd, London, England.  Purchased it from a guitarist (Peter Cowling) in 1953.   Prior to this it was thought to have been owned by Dave Goldberg.   The diagonal pickup is an over large 6 pole 6 coil design encased in a copper box, mounted to the end of the finger board and covered with a black plate.  The pickup became very noisy and about 10 years ago so my father had it rewound by an enthusiast who meticulously counted turns to bring it back to its original specification.  The Tailpiece has an added brazed cross-clip which has distorted the natural line of the Trapeze.  Single Volume Control.

Guild Guitars


1969 Guild Artist Award Guitar:
Body size at lower bout:17″ Scale length: 25 1/2″ Nut width: 1-10/16″ Materials: Hand-carved book-matched solid spruce top; figured tiger flame maple neck; hand-carved book-matched maple back and sides; ebony fingerboard with mother of pearl/abalone split-block fingerboard; ornate “pitcher and star” abalone pearl peghead inlay; 7-ply body and headstock binding, triple-bound f-holes, bone nut.
Hardware: 100% original hardware, including gold-plated harp tailpiece; compensated ebony bridge; gold Grover Imperial tuners; original Guild logo pickguard; original floating gold DeArmond Model 1100 Adjustable Rhythm Chief pickup.


Introduced as the Johnny Smith – Award in 1956, Guild‘s top of the line guitar was rechristened the Artist Award in 1961. Individually handmade by the most experienced builders at the Guild shop, the Artist Award continued to sport  appointments seen only on ultra-deluxe instruments of the 30’s and 40’s, including a full 7 plies of binding on both the body and the peghead.  The deep ebony fingerboard is trimmed with 3 plies of inner binding on the face, just like the old Epiphone Emperor, whose ornate split-block fingerboard inlay was continued in the Artist Award as well.  Even the f-holes are triple bound.

1969 retro original floating gold
DeArmond Model 1100 Adjustable Rhythm Chief pickup.

Put on a Happy Face – With Dave Goldberg

From a 1965 TV appearance, here’s Benny Golson leading a British all-star London Jazz Orchestra band, featuring Alan Branscombe on piano, Dave Goldberg on guitar and Tubby Hayes on tenor, with sterling support from Allan Ganley on drums. Also visible in the clip are Jimmy Deuchar and Stan Roderick in the trumpets, Keith Christie and Ken Wray in the trombones and Don Honeywill and Frank Reidy with Bob Efford in the reeds.

Dave is playing a Guild with a floating DeArmond Pickup with bar mounted on the end of the finger board and to the stair-step scratchplate with one Volume Control – a Venetian cutaway – perhaps a Johnny Smith Award Model, Savoy A150, A500 or Stratford A350 Guild Archtop Guitar.  Harp Tailpiece   c1965

The Gibson Guitar


This Gibson L-4CES – for Electric Cutaway Dave Goldberg is playing looks to be quite an early one with a single pickup and was used at sometime by just about every jazz guitarist.  This Gibson electric to feature a stylish Florentine cutaway. Its 1st incarnation had 1 –single-coil pickup (a P90 in the neck position, and a carved rosewood bridge

The Gibson L-4 archtop became jazz’s greatest rhythm instrument in the hands of 6-string innovators like the virtuoso Eddie Lang in the 1920s and assured the company’s dominance of the guitar market even before the outbreak of World War I. The L-4’s story – evolved from an acoustic guitar to the dynamic L-4 CES Mahogany Archtop of today – is perhaps the best illustration of Gibson’s historic dedication.  The first wave of these guitars were built in small batches throughout the 1950s, but were perfected late in the decade. Along the way the guitar’s body traded its rounded edges for a single cutaway horn to allow easier access to the high notes – a sign of the L-4’s evolution from rhythm to lead-and-rhythm instrument. Finally, in 1958, the design reached a pinnacle with a run of 20 guitars bearing the Gibson L-4 CES name. Some had Charlie Christian pickups, others Alnicos, and a few sported humbuckers. Over time the humbuckers proved the most versatile and practical, and thus today’s graceful mahogany L-4 CES model reached maturity.

The Gibson L-4 CES is a Custom Shop Hollowbody that was designed around the L-4C and the ES-175. It was originally made in 1949 and was the first Gibson electrics with the pointed Florentine cutaway. Both the L-4CE and the L-4CES were never listed as regular production electrics. Actually the ES-175 was an L-4C with a plywood top instead of a carved maple top. There were a few electrified L-4Cs made in the late 50‘s. These guitars were fitted with a Charlie Christian Pickup. The L-4 CES is this same version with the exception of it had either Alnico pickups or a vintage humbucker (Feb 1957). This is one of more rare Gibsons.

When first released the L-4 had a single coil pickup (P-90 style) that was mounted near the neck and a volume and tone control with the 1/4 inch guitar jack mounted on the rim (side) of the guitar. The neck was made of a single piece of Mahogany. The top and sides where made of laminated maple which was reinforced with 2 parallel braces. There have been a number of changes to this guitar over the years. For instance it wasn’t until 1953 that 2 humbuckers appeared on the ES-175. Also an all gold hardware version called the ES-295 was released in the 50’s which were the hollow body version of the Les Paul. There are two main version of this guitar created between 1949 and the mid 1960‘s. Most guitarists are used to the ES-175 / 175D and the ES-295 versions.

The original are very similar to today’s version with some exception. For the most part the number of frets on the neck didn’t change (20 frets). The Florentine Cut-Away body style also didn’t change.  The first version was made of maple and had a single P-90 pickup and had the designation of ES-175. It also had only 19 frets with neck to body joint at the 14th fret. Some of the models did use Alnico pickups in the middle 1950’s. In 1957 the number of frets on the neck was increased to 20 this followed the addition of a fancier tailpiece (1956). The trapeze style tailpiece was replaced with one that had a ‘T’ shaped centre which had a zip zag pattern on the sides.

In 1957 the guitar was fitted with Humbucker pickups where just released by Gibson (’57 Vintage Humbucker). The designation for this guitar was the ES-175D for dual pickups. This was probably the most important change for the guitar as far as the sound of the instrument was concerned. The humbucker allowed the guitarist to play louder with less pickup noise and hum. The pickups themselves were also more powerful which meant that the amplifier didn’t have to be turned up as loud to produce the same volume. The tone of the guitar however did change and Gibson still shipped the ES-175/L-4 with the single coil P-90 pickups.


In 1959 the natural finish was discontinued and some finish variations where released but for the most part the sunburst finish was used. Today’s version of the Gibson L-4CES comes with 2 ‘57 vintage humbuckers and sides and back is made of Mahogany. It’s now available in both natural and vintage sunburst finishes. One variation with the current model is the carved solid spruce top instead of maple. The neck is still 24.75″ scale length and made of a single piece of Mahogany. The neck still has 20 frets and an ebony fretboard (not rosewood) with Pearl split parallelogram inlays and a single-ply white binding around the top of the neck. The neck profile is the ES style (Electric Spanish) with vintage tulip tuners. The width of the nut at the top is 1 11/16″. The electronics are in the standard configuration with two ’57 classic humbucker pickups with two volume and two tone controls (one for each pickup) and of course the 3-way pickup selector switch. Features:-

  • Carved solid spruce top
  • Carved solid mahogany back and rims
  • Multi-ply white and black binding on the top with a single-ply binding on the back
  • Gold Hardware
  • ABR-1 Bridge
  • L-4 Tail Piece

Michael Claxton: “….when I was trying to decide between music and advertising I wrote to Steve Race for advice and met him at the BBC a couple of times for a chat and a cup of tea (!). He invited me to two of his recording sessions – this would have been in 1965 – and I helped with handing out scores etc. The guitarist was Dave Goldberg and boy was he good. At one point Steve Race asked him – I don’t remember exactly but something like ‘Could you make that Bb min 7th with a flattened 11th a flattened 12th instead and Dave said words to the effect, “Yes where would you like it?” and he played 4 inversions up the neck in about two seconds.  When I expressed my admiration he just said the classic Carnegie Hall line – “Practice, man, practice!”… I have the LPs somewhere in storage; ‘Late Race‘ and another one with film themes if I remember correctly.”

Bob Bowden: “I saw Dave Goldberg at Ronnie’s. He played a solo set between Sonny Rollins sets. Usual Ronnie’s ambience, chat, glasses, cash registers. No one paid much attention. Within 10 minutes the place was as silent as the grave, everyone was rapt. Drops of sweat from Dave’s forehead dripped onto a by now unvarnished spot on his guitar. He was fabulous.”