A Historic Collection of Hank Garland Guitars Lands on Reverb

Photo by: Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer, Getty Images.

A quartet of guitars owned and played by Hank Garland on records for Elvis Presley, Brenda Lee, and The Everly Brothers have landed on Reverb, including rare Gibson prototypes that would be historic even without their appearance on classic tracks.

Garland's family have listed the guitars in the Guitars from the Estate of Hank Garland Reverb shop.

In the 1950s, Hank Garland was one of Nashville's most prominent guitarists. Following his own smash hit "Sugarfoot Rag" in 1949, he was part of RCA Studio's A-Team of top-tier session players and laid down lines for Nashville Sound classics from Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison, and more, including a run of Elvis records from 1958 to 1961.

Because of such bonafides, Garland had a close relationship with Gibson, and, along with co-designer Billy Byrd, was instrumental in the design of the Gibson Byrdland (named after the mashup of "Byrd" and "land" from Garland's last name). He also had the chance to test and offer feedback on early versions of guitars like the ES-345.

Hank Garland - "Sugarfoot Rag"

He played the clean, snappy licks that propel Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" on a 1958 prototype model of the Gibson ES-345, and played the rollicking rock 'n' roll riffs of Elvis' "I Got Stung" on another 1958 prototype of a Gibson EB-6 6-string bass.

When Vintage Guitar magazine featured these instruments in 2011, writer Wolf Marshall said, "There are guitars, there are great guitars, there are great historic guitars and there are great historic guitars bearing deep provenance. And then there are guitars of such immense mystique, provenance, and cultural significance they are transcendent, shattering ceilings set by previous standards."

These guitars—along with the Paul Bigsby–modded Epiphone Zephyr used to record "Sugarfoot Rag" and Garland's 1957 Gibson L-7C Custom that graced many of his records—are for sale on Reverb now.

1958 Gibson ES-345 Prototype

According to the listing, this ES-345 prototype "has a few unique features that differ from the production model that came out later. Hank eventually had Gibson also add a gold sideways Vibrola and a gold bowtie Bigsby bridge to the guitar."

The instrument was Hank's go-to guitar from 1958 to 1961, when he was recording with Elvis, and can be heard on the soundtracks to Blue Hawaii and Follow That Dream, in addition to Everly Brothers tracks from this era and Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree."

In 1961, Garland was injured in a car accident that left him largely unable to play guitar. Since then, it (along with others in the collection) have been kept in a climate-controlled storage room, and the strings are the last set of strings Garland put on the guitar in 1961.

For more on this guitar, check out the listing here.

1958 Gibson EB-6 Prototype

The EB-6 was Gibson's response to the early 6-string bass guitars made by Danelectro and other companies, which could be heard on many Nashville Sound recordings.

Hank played this EB-6 prototype on Elvis' "I Got Stung," "Stuck On You," and "Fame and Fortune."

According to the listing, "The guitar has several features that are unique from the production model, most notable being this was the only EB-6 6-string bass to have two PAF pickups. The body was made from a ES-345 body (hence the Varitone plug) and features a large one piece mahogany neck."

The strings on the EB-6 are all-original—the same exact set that left with the guitar from the Gibson factory.

For more info, visit the listing here.

1957 Gibson L-7C Custom

Used by Garland on his albums Jazz Winds From a New Direction and Velvet Guitar and pictured on album jackets, this L-7C was custom-ordered to include a Charlie Christian pickup.

According to the listing, it also sports "a custom sterling silver Mono-Plak truss-rod cover with 'Hank Garland' engraved on it."

Overall, the guitar is in the same condition it was in in 1961. The guitar comes with "the original Lifton tan case with pink lining, as well as the original hang tag, transit paper and November 1957 Gibson Gazette from Hank's local music store in Nashville."

For more info, visit the listing here.

1949 Epiphone Zephyr Deluxe Regent, Modded by Paul Bigsby

This guitar, perhaps the brightest gem of the collection, is the very instrument that Garland used to record "Sugarfoot Rag" in 1949. Appropriately, it has a "Sugarfoot" pickguard.

The modifications to the original Epiphone Zephyr—which include custom pickups and a custom bridge in addition to the pickguard—were done by Paul Bigsby, the pioneering guitar builder who made the first solidbody electric for Merle Travis and created the vibrato system still popular today.

This guitar, being Hank's main guitar for years, appeared on the Grand Ole Opry stage numerous times and many recordings from the early '50s. It comes with a custom leather guitar strap sporting the initials HG.

For more info on the listing, click here or check out the full collection at the Guitars from the Estate of Hank Garland shop.

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