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#59: On the Road

April 4, 2009

I like to think that I’m the kind of girl who lets her hair down, pulls herself up by the bootstraps, doesn’t mind toting around yesterday’s banana in her Birkin… and can survive not having Internet at the house or DIE TRYING. Computer in bindle, I hit the road. I come to you today from an appropriately antique laden coffee shop instead of the safety of my boudoir.

Thematically appropriate, then, comes a tale of another field trip which landed me in one of downtown Brooklyn’s secret, outright sacred vintage gold mines: RetroFret. In an unmarked warehouse on a post-industrial, ostensibly forgotten street lives an asylum of ‘vintage, rare, and unusually fretted instruments’ to quell any musician’s waning imagination.

I’ve said it before, I’m no expert on the subject of guitars, but I’ll feign savoir faire when and where I can on just about any subject. True, I don’t shred. But to my credit I’ve been surrounded by guitars and discussing them in various forums (Dad’s dinner table) long enough to know a good one when I see it. This place has ‘em all.

An ocean of Martins, foreground, ocean of Gibsons, background.

I now possess an unswerving desire to collect a bevy of stenciled cowboy guitars to hang on the walls of the house. Cowboy guitars were produced from the 1930’s-50’s in response to the nationwide fascination with the cowboy heroes of radio and TV serials.

I was told that this one in particular is extremely rare because it depicts (allow me to be non-PC) Indians.

Gibson’s 1938 Century of Progress model with white “pearloid” celluloid (plastic made in the 30’s to resemble mother of pearl) headstock and neck.

1954 Gibson J-200, blonde and beautiful.

(L-R) 1932 National, 1930 National, early 30’s resonator.


Prettiest, biggest banjo I ever did see. Headstock close-up.

And more where that came from…

I’d like to see what old Roscoe Holcomb could do with these.

Bronson Honolulu Deluxe, c. 1936, headstock close-up.

So hypnotized was I by the acoustics and steel strings that I didn’t even make it to the “Electric Room”— just another reason why I should go back to visit, and why you should too. RetroFret is located at 233 Butler Street, Brooklyn, New York. All of the information you’ll need to make an appointment to visit the guys is on their website!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Daddy permalink
    April 6, 2009 9:14 am

    FabnFantastic
    love it

  2. April 9, 2009 4:23 pm

    Awesome. I have a few guitars myself and need to check this place out!

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