||Louis Allen – Kay.
Anderson – Gibson Southern Jumbo (Kip Lornell’s?).
||Pink Anderson (p) – Harmony, Gibson B-25, J-50, Martin
Arnold – a National Model O strung for left-handed playing (glass
bottleneck on the pinkie). Also an unidentified standard guitar and,
reportedly, a Martin.
||Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong – Weyman banjo-mandolin,
“Keystone” flat-back mandolin.
||DeFord Bailey – Yes, I know, a Hohner Marine Band (pref.
an A or a G), but he also played guitar (a Gibson Dove) and banjo (NorMa(?)
and Maybelle 5-strings)
||“Memphis Willie B.” Boerum – Epiphone Triumph.
||Barbecue Bob – Stella 12-string.
||John Henry Barbee – Gibson L-1, Harmony 165 flattop.
||Jim Baxter (of Jim & Andrew Baxter) – Stella.
||Ed Bell (Barefoot Bill) – Stella.
||Blind Blake – Harmony(?) concert, prob. a resonator
guitar on 1929 sessions onward.
||Black Ace (Babe Turner) – National Style 2
||Scrapper Blackwell – National Triolian (c.1931), 1926
Gibson L-0 (thanks to Paul Fox) and Stellas. A Kay Solo Special in the
||Ted Bogan – Martin D-35.
||Pillie Bolling – “A mail-order red Stella”.
||Wee Bea Booze (Muriel Nicholls) – Regal Model 27½
||Ishmon Bracey – Regal.
||Dink Brister – Gibson A-1 mandolin.
||Big Bill (Broonzy) (p) – c.1920 Gibson Model O, Bacon & Day
Senorita, Epiphone DeLuxe, Gibson L7. Bill played a Martin 000-28 during
his late 40s/early 50s acoustic period.
||Buster Brown – Dobro (Regal) Model 27.
||Gabriel Brown – Harmony, Dobro Model 45, Gibson J-35.
Brown – Guild F-212 12-string.
||Willie Brown – Stella for the May 1930 recordings; apparently this
was the make he preferred.
||Bumble Bee Slim – National Model O.
||R.L. Burnside – Martin D-28, Gibson LG-2, Japanese Epiphone
||Charlie Burse – National Silver Tenor Style 1, Triolian,
||Joe Callicott – Stella, Harmony Archtop and H1203
Campbell – Kay K-24 flattop. Also the guitarist in his Nashville Street
Band played a Kay archtop with all the electrics stripped out.
||Gus Cannon – 1920s Gretsch Broadkaster and Van
Eps Recording banjos.
Ashley Thompson from his Jug-Stompers played a Stella and a 1961 Gibson
LG-2 in a later reunion photo.
||Bo Carter (p) – National Style N. Gary Atkinson of the
wonderful Document Records has a 1930 Style N which he and Bob Brozman
consider to be a possibly Bo Carter’s guitar as shown in the earlier
(mid-30s) of the two photos that we know of. The guitar has longer head
slots than usual, no neck binding and has a nickel-silver back with a
copper front to the body, giving it a unique tonal quality very similar
to that on Bo’s recordings of the time).
||Goree Carter – Stella (Harmony).
||Catiron (William Carradine) – Harmony concert size.
||Sam Chatmon – Gibson L-4, Harmony Sovereign H1203.
||Sam Collins – Stella.
Copeland – Ovation “Glen Campbell”.
Cotten – Mike Seeger says “Ms. Cotton played a Stella when she was
young; then, about 1960, a mid-century Martin D-18; and eventually, from
the late 1960s onward, her favourite 00-18 Martin”. She was also
pictured with 000-18, D-28 and a Gibson J-45.
||Ollie Crenshaw – Stella.
||Arthur Crudup – Silvertone (Kay), Kay Upbeat and Gibson
||Emma Daniels (of “Two Gospel Keys”) – Stella.
||Jed Davenport – Stella concert 12-string, Joe McCoy’s
Washburn(?), Regal mandolin.
Gary Davis (p) – National Duolian then a Washburn and various Gibsons
including J200s, B45-12s, Hummingbirds, a Southern Jumbo, a J-50, also
Bozo and Martin 12-strings and briefly, a Bozo 6-string and a huge
Zemaitis. There are photos of him with a Yamaha dreadnaught and a Martin
D-28. His first guitar was “an $18 Washburn for his 8th
birthday”. He also played the banjo, a 5-string that he was lent and
that I can’t identify, a 1930s Gibson GB-1 (c.1962) and a 12-string
Framus which was strung as a 6-string. There is a long-necked Vega-ish
instrument pictured on the “Guitar & Banjo” CD, but I can’t tell how many strings it has (plectrum?).
||Dan Dixon – Martin D-28.
(The Lonnie Johnson Trio).
Douglas – Harmony Sovereign 1203.
||Scott Dunbar (p) – Kay Grand Auditorium, Gibson J45.
||Ford “Snooks” Eaglin – Harmony Archtop.
||Dave “Honeyboy” Edwards – Stella, Martin 00-17 (1930s), Kay
Monarch (1942), Martin D-41.
||Sleepy John Estes – Stellas, Silvertones, Gibson LG-1
(“mid-50s”, customised), a Lark Junior archtop in 1962, Harmonys Stella,
Models 162 and Sovereign 1260, also a Yamaha dreadnaught later.
||Bud Ezell – Bacon & Day (Regal made?).
||Blind Boy Fuller – National Duolians (1 from 1933, 1
– A really huge 12-string based on a Prairie State (Larson Bros.) (from
the late John Joyce, via Paul Brett – thanks again), also various
||Clifford Gibson – Gibson L-1.
Roosevelt Graves – Large Kay archtop.
||Arvella Gray – various National Duolians, a Model O, a
Gibson J200 and a Les Paul (yeah, really).
||Guitar Shorty (John Henry Fortascue) – Kay K-22 flat top
with custom floral decoration, Kay archtop, “steel” National (from Danny
||Clarence Green – “My first guitar cost $12. It was a
||Buddy Guy – Kay Archtop for “Muddy Waters – Folk Singer”
session also a Kay Jumbo, possibly a Solo Special.
||“Hacksaw” Harney – Gibson J-200.
||Buddy Boy Hawkins – Stella.
||John Lee Hooker – Kay Jumbo.
||Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins – Kay K-24 Jumbo, Harmony 165
Grand Concert, Gibson J-45s, J-50 and J-160E, also a Washburn and a Framus.
||Son House – National Duolian, Triolian or Model O. He
favoured Stellas early on and said that he used one for the 1930
recording session; there is a 1960s photo of him holding one, but it was
on loan; there is also a late picture of him holding an early 20s Gibson
Howell – Stellas (there is a 1963 picture of him with a nylon strung
guitar). Henry Williams, a member of his “Gang” also played a Stella.
||Howlin' Wolf – Kay Archtop, Guild G-212 12-string,
Harmony Sovereign flat-top.
Mississippi John Hurt (p) – The guitar he used on the 1928 sessions was
provided by the studio, his personal guitar (“Black Annie”, of unknown
provenance) was not considered good enough quality. A Stella (Harmony
era) in the 1950s, a Gibson J-45 (customised & refinished) and an Emory
belonging to Tom Hoskins, Gibson/Harmony/homemade 12-string belonging
to Peter Silitch, Guild F-30 NT, a Gretsch resophonic (pic.), Harmony
Sovereign H1260, 1930 Martin OM-45 (from Stefan Grossman), a custom
guitar by Jim Snow and another auditorium-sized by Jack Alderson. This
list was culled, in the main, from Philip R. Ratcliffe’s excellent book
on Hurt, with input from Stella expert Neil Harpe.
||James “Bo Weavil” Jackson – Gibson L-1.
||Papa Charlie Jackson – Possibly a Euphonon guitar banjo
in 1925/6 pic. (I once played one dating from 1914ish that had the same
type of tailpiece), a Gibson GB Banjo in the 1927 photo &, reportedly, a
Gibson guitar, model unknown.
||Jim Jackson – Stella 12-string and Concert.
– Early 1950s Gibson J-50, 90s L-00 reissue.
||Lulu Jackson – Stella.
||Melvin “Lil’ Son” Jackson – Harmony Sovereign H1260.
James – Kay dreadnaught with added electrics (specifically DeArmond
Rhythm Chief Model 1000, the actual pickup he uses on most/all of his
recordings, mounted on the guitar top between bridge and soundhole, with
the DeArmond vol./tone control box hanging down from the bridge. He also
experimented with pickups attached over the soundhole. a DeArmond
soundhole pickup is present on the November 1959 pictures, not there in
1957 pictures and gone by December 1959 pictures. The Rhythm Chief
pickup is present in ALL photos !!). Thanks to “Snakehips” O’Donnell for
||Homesick James – Stella.
||Skip James – Gibson J-185, J-45, Martin D-18, D-28 in
the sixties. The guitar used in the 1931 session is now generally
accepted to have been a Stella 12-string strung as a six-string.
||Blind Lemon Jefferson (p?) – Stella (and reportedly an Oahu – see pic.).
“Snuff” Johnson – Martin D-28, Gibson LG-0, Gurian (prob. Borrowed).
||Henry Johnson – National Model O 14 fret “chicken-feet”, Gibson
||Herman E. Johnson – Stella 928.
||Lonnie Johnson – Martin 00-21, 1942 Gibson J-100, a custom-made
Mexican 12-string which he occasionally played with single strings in
the two high string positions rather than doubles.
||Mager Johnson – Guild F-30 (poss. borrowed).
Johnson – 1928 Gibson L-1, Kalamazoo KG-14 (Johnny Shines referred to
Johnson’s last guitar as a “big old Kalamazoo”). He was also reputed to
have played Stellas and a brass National with the high E string doubled
for extra volume. A new picture has surfaced, which is claimed (and I’m
inclined to believe it) to show R.J. and Johnny Shines resplendent in
cool new threads with Bob clutching yet another guitar. I think that
this box was the product of the Regal factory, but I don’t know the
actual name on the head; it’s obvious that the thing is a wreck with no
bridge, strings and nearly no machines. If you wish to see this picture,
it’s on the Vanity Fair website, however incongruous that may seem.
||Tommy Johnson – a Stella, a Washburn, a Martin and a
Gibson; also “many cheap guitars” (c.f. the excellent “Tommy Johnson” –
David Evans 1971).
||Blind Willie Johnson – a Stella in the picture (poss.
taken 1927), but Pillie Bolling borrowed his Washburn in Atlanta 1930.
||Dennis “Little Hat” Jones – Harmony Archtop (from
||McKinney Jones – Harmony Sonata Superior archtop with
||Moody Jones – Martin 00-28.
||Charlie Jordan (p) – I don’t know what this guitar is (the one with all
the pearl dots) so we’ll call it a “Stella”.
Jordan – a Gibson.
||Junior Kimbrough – Yamaha dreadnaught.
King – there is a very early photo of him with a well-worn acoustic
guitar of strange appearance, possibly with a resonator. Does anybody
know what this machine was? Also “a red Stella”, a Gibson L-30 with
added electrics (The Original “Lucille” was one of these) and a J-45.
||Freddie King – Silvertone “Roy Rogers” acoustic (first
||Eddie Kirkland – National (Pete Lowry).
– Stella 12-string.
||Clyde Langford – Gurian Auditorium, “Honda 500”.
||Leadbelly – Stella 12-strings, one Grand Auditorium (an
emergency buy for him by John Lomax in 1935 - the one on the films and
most of the photos), also a Martin 000-18 in 1949.
– Michigan archtop (Hoyer-made?), Gibson LG-0.
– Stellas, Martin 0-18 in the early ‘60s, an Epiphone Texan and a Gibson
B-25N in the late 1960s.
||Charlie Lincoln – Stella 12-string.
Lipscombe – Harmony Sovereign H1203, Gibson J-200 and J50 (prob.
||Robert Jr. Lockwood – “$3.98 Gene Autry model from
Montgomery Ward”, Gibson L-0, Dobro “Hula Blues”, Guild 12-string.
||Joe Hill Louis – Kay archtop.
||Barbara Lynn – “My first guitar was an Arthur Murray
||Carl Martin – Stella.
||Maxwell Street Jimmie – Harmony archtop.
||Charlie McCoy – Washburn mandolin (model 5281?).
||Ethel McCoy – National Duolian 1933/34 12-fret.
McCoy – Gibson J200.
||Kansas Joe McCoy (p) – Washburn, Harmony, National Style 3 Tricone,
National Electric Spanish.
||Mississippi Fred McDowell – Washburn DeLuxe, Martin D28, Harmony
Cremona, Guild F-30 (prob. borrowed from John Hurt).
McGhee – The Martin D-18 is what he’s famous for, but, before that, he
played “an f-hole S.S. Stewart” (possibly made by Gibson), a 14-fret
National Duolian, 1938 Gibson J35 (later customised with, to the eye,
extended f/board & modified bridge), a Martin D-28, a Harmony archtop
and a Gibson J-200. He preferred Black Diamond strings with an unwound 3rd
and used steel National fingerpicks (2) and a plastic thumbpick.
McGhee – National Trojan (1935?), Kalamazoo KG-31(?), Epiphone Spartan
with added DeArmond.
McLintock (p) – Stella(?) (see note) in the photo, but I think that he
plays a 12-string on the recordings.
||Fred McMullen – Stella, Martin OM-28 c.1930.
||Blind Willie McTell – various huge Stella, Regal & Harmony
Jug Band –– Robert Carter – Gibson L30; “Unidentified Member” (Charlie
Burse?) – National Triolian; Will Shade – Stella, Gibson SJN, 1933
Minnie – Stella, Washburn, National Tricone (Joe McCoy kitted them both
out with identical Nationals in c.1929), 1938 National New Yorker
Electric Spanish (1940 pics.), early 1950s National Aristocrat with
non-standard quadrant fret markers (c. 1953 – thanks to Mark Makins),
||Memphis Slim – National Electric Spanish archtop
(perhaps just minding it for a friend?).
||Lottie Merle – “An old Stella”.
||Flora Molton – Stella, Del Vecchio, “some was
Gibson…………..some was named Stellas”.
||George “Daddy Hot Cakes” Montgomery – Kay archtop.
Moore (Kinston N.C., not the barber) – Kay archtop.
Moss – pre-1933 National Duolian, Gibson L-00, Kay Kraft Style C (poss.
||Charlie “Dad” Nelson – Stella 12-string.
Nighthawk (p) – Stellas.
||Hammie Nixon – 1933 National Triolian.
Owens – Silvertone (Harmony) 12 string strung as a 6, Guild F-30 (poss.
not his own).
Patton – Stromberg-Voisinet Concert in the photo; he reportedly used a
“brown Stella with lots of fancy pearl and stuff” for some time. Patton
was also said to have used “a Gibson with a Black Top” around the time
of his last session; the guitar lasted well because of its robust
construction, although he apparently preferred Stellas for bass and
volume. It is also said that he played and destroyed the odd Washburn.
(Albert Ammons Rhythm Kings) – Gibson L-5; in 1936 he was photographed
holding an early Rickenbacker Frying Pan (prob. A-25), complete with
correct amplifier (these guitars had a round neck, so could be played
either as Hawaiian or Spanish). The way he held the guitar suggests that
he played it in conventional “Spanish” mode, possibly even while
||Robert Petway – c.1931 Sears (National) Duolian.
||Washington Phillips – a complex double zither of his own
http://www.angelfire.com/, Dolceola section, for argument and mp3s).
Powell – Silvertone (Harmony) auditorium-sized flat-top.
Quattlebaum – National Duolian (mid-30s).
Quinn – Martin A style mandolin with optional shaded top.
(p) – Gibson A-1, F-5s, Flatiron F-5, Harmony mandolins with the bottom
strings octave tuned; he also tended to tune the whole instrument down
about 1½ tones. Gibson J-200 guitar.
Rambo (Star Band 1933) – Dobro Mod 66B with custom decoration on top.
||Moochie Reeves – Kay-Kraft.
Riddle – Stromberg-Voisinet mandolin.
||Frank Robinson – Gibson B-25, Stella.
Rogers – Silvertone (Kay) acoustic archtop.
||Dr. Isiah Ross – 1960 Gibson SJN, Harmony Cremona.
||Bobbie Rush – Gibson Hummingbird.
||John T. Samples Sr. – Fender dreadnaught (1993).
||Dan Sane – Harmony concert (Beale Street Sheiks).
||Tom Shaw – “$8 Stella”, Gibson J45.
Bud Scott –
Martin 0-21 with Papa Mutt Carey.
||Johnny Shines – Stella, Gibson B-25.
“Jelly-Jaw” Short (p) – Stella, Regal (Dobro) Model 37 spanish with the
resonator cover removed and the hole filled in with wood (also with a
wonderful custom harp-rack clamped to the top bout). The photo showing
this guitar was taken in 1962 when he was recorded by Sam Charters and
the guitar he used sounds like a Dobro with its resonator intact.
||Frankie Lee Sims – Gibson J-50.
||Robert Curtis Smith – Harmony Sovereign H1203.
||Smoky Babe (Robert Brown) – Stella 922 12-string
customised as a 6-string with the tailpiece removed and the floating
bridge replaced with a fixed, string-retainer type.
||Spark Plug Smith – Martin 2-17.
||Joseph Spence – a large Kay archtop in 1958, a 1949
Martin 00-18 by 1977,
also a Dobro
(Regal made) No.35.
“Pop” Staples – Kay K-44 Archtop.
||Frank Stokes – Harmony concert, Martin 00-28.
“Babe” Stovall – National Model O and Triolian (Silvertone badged says
Chester P.) both c.1932, Stella, Kalamazoo Oriole mandolin.
||Daddy Stovepipe (Johnny Watson) – In 1924, a 9-string guitar with
doubled-up treble strings and single basses. Neil Harpe identifies this
as a Grunewald, c.1905, made in New Orleans, Harmony archtop (Conondo?).
||Stovepipe No. 1 – Stella (I’ve no idea what make the stovepipe was).
||Roosevelt Sykes – Gibson J-50 (you’d better believe it!).
Red (p) – 1928 National Style 4 with custom engraving (sadly nickel
plated, not gold), now on its third neck at least. Custom National
Electric Archtop c.1938.
Tarter – Stromberg Voisinet mandolin. Harry Gay played a Washburn
Tate – Gibson Southern Jumbo, Leader jumbo.
||Sister O.M. Terrell – National Triolian flat f-hole model with a
Rosetta Tharpe (p) – National Triolian, Gibson L-5.
||Henry “Ragtime Texas” Thomas – Stella.
||Rambling Thomas – Washburn, his first guitar was from Sears.
||James “Son” Thomas – Wolfram Triumph with an aluminium clad fretboard, Martin D-28.
Thomas (w. Butch Cage) - Harmony Sovereign 1203, Gibson J-50 (prob.
borrowed from Chris Strachwitz).
||Buford Threlkeld (Whistler’s Jug Band) – Stella.
||James Tisdom – Grand concert sized Kay
||Henry Townsend – Stella, also a Thorn or Thornton which
he says was the best ever (prob. a Thornward by Lyon & Healy – thanks
Todd). Later, Henry was filmed using a c.1937 National Model O.
– a “fine steel National” and a Regal (Recording King?) concert.
||Walter Vinson (aka Vincson, Vincent, Jacobs) – National
Style 1 Tricone.
Washington – Harmony Archtop.
Waters (p) – Stella, followed by “a beautiful Sears-Roebuck box”, a
borrowed Martin for the L. C. session, a National Trojan (maybe a Sears
model?) in 1943 John Work photo, Harmony Archtop, Gibson Southern Jumbo and the “dunno”
in the picture (for "Folk Singer").
||Curley Weaver – Kay Kraft style C.
||Sylvester Weaver – Stella, Washburn Auditorium-size.
Wheatstraw – National Style 3 Tricone (possibly belonging to Joe McCoy).
– Stella (1927). If you believe that the early picture is of Casey
Bill Weldon, then you should know that the guitar that he favoured on
the 1935 onward recordings was, almost certainly, a National Tricone
squareneck. There is a poor quality photograph of him with an electric
lap steel which I can’t identify; the photo is dated 1941, but he “went
electric” before Dec. 1938 – his last recording session.
“Bukka” White (p) – National Duolians & Triolians after his first
Stella; he swapped a Gibson “in bad shape” for his first National. He
also used a very rare 1938 National “Exploding Palmtree” squareneck
Tricone with the nut cut for use with fingers down on the Takoma
Sessions and was filmed playing a Gibson J45 and Furry Lewis’s B25N.
White – Kay Kraft (as Curley Weaver & Buddy Moss), Martin 00-21, 00-42,
with custom scratch-plates applied when he wore the tops. Custom Guild
(1965) and Ovation (1967) “Josh White” models.
||Mott Willis – Guild F-30 (prob. on loan).
||Rev. Robert Wilkins – Gibson J-45, Martin D-28, Stefan
||Bill Williams – Gibson L-1 c.1931.
Williams – National Duolians, both 12 and 14-fret.
(Big) Joe Williams (p) – Gibson L-1, Stella 12-string, then all sorts of Harmonys, Gibsons, Kays, Silvertones, etc. butchered in an infinite
variety of fascinating fashions.
||K.M. Williams – Dobro copy.
||Robert Pete Williams – Harmony Stella Grand Auditorium
12-string sometimes strung as 6-string, Harmony Archtops, Harmony
Sovereign H1260 & H1203, Martin 000-45.
||Hosea Woods – Stella.
||Johnny Young – Martin 00-21; Gibson A-40 (with added
pickup) and Wilson flat-top electric mandolins.