Gurian | S3M | 1979 | SN: C3614
The current owner had this to say:
“I purchased the S3M (SN C3614) from Matt Umanov in 1992 for $900 with a new case. It was a consignment instrument, and I do not know its prior history, but it was obviously well cared for. I had been looking for a Gurian for several years, having previously purchased wood, tools and supplies from Michael Gurian. Truth be told, I liked the idea of a Gurian more than the actual guitar at the time. I was used to a dreadnaught and the medium-high action made the guitar a challenge to play. The bridge saddle had been filed down to almost nothing, and at the time I didn’t realize it was well on its way to needing a neck reset.
I tried to bond with the guitar, but really couldn’t. I used it as a niche/recording instrument, and eventually settled on using it as a pseudo classical by putting Thomastik-Infeld Plectrum strings on it.
Around 2000 the guitar developed a rattle, as the neck had continued to bow forward, and the guitar tech at the Music Emporium (Lexington MA) suggested cutting slots into the bridge behind the saddle to give the strings a sharper angle over the saddle. I foolishly agreed.
Around this time I started getting interested in smaller body guitars, and the Gurian started getting more of my attention. I moved back to steel strings, and learned the instrument needed a neck reset, but also realized that I needed to find someone with the tools and experience to work with the unique pinned neck joint. Such folks don’t grow on trees! I can’t say for sure whether my taste in guitars changed, or the guitar just opened up, but 15 years on I really started to bond with the guitar, and was grateful I had resisted the occasional urge to sell it. The fact that it records so well is a reason I kept it even when not playing it often.
Fast forward to October 2010, when I visited Maple Leaf Music in Brattleboro VT (just across the river from Hinsdale NH), and was referred to Tucker Barrett
Tucker is a good friend of Michael Gurian’s, and over the years has purchased parts and tools from many of the former Gurian employees. He knows Gurians inside and out, and did a wonderful job restoring mine. He reset the neck, crowned the frets, and installed a K&K Western Mini pickup with an end-pin jack. He also re-glued the bridge, filled the slots behind the saddle, shimmed the saddle and re-worked the nut. It was like getting a new guitar, and his fee was very reasonable.
The guitar is in nice shape. The neck finish is worn to a comfortable satin feel. There are a few dings, scratches and some minor finish checking. The pictures show a nice bearclaw figure over the sound hole. Tucker was kind enough to confirm that it is indeed a bearclaw figure, not just pizza night at Gurian’s shop when it was finished. Tucker knows many of the former Gurian employees who still live locally, and has commented that it was a “hippie guitar shop”, and noted that guitars completed on a Friday afternoon might not have received the kind of QC attention of say, a Wednesday morning instrument. He agreed that my instrument appears to be a good ‘un.
Since the reset I can’t play the guitar enough. I’m a hybrid player, holding a pick with my thumb and forefinger and picking with my other three fingernails. I play rock, jazz and folk, and dabble in fingerstyle, country and bluegrass. I find the S3M to be both comfortable and versatile. It is a very balanced instrument and plays well up the neck, responding well to a capo.
I measure 41mm at the nut (1.61″ or 1 9.83/16″). Yeah, it’s skinny, but I’ve got a Lowden and a Huss & Dalton for when I need more room. Lately those have lived in their cases.
I almost regret having put the pickup in the instrument (although I know this is reversible and doesn’t devalue the instrument). I played out with it a couple weeks ago and a drunk came onstage and started knocking into the guitar, making me re-think gigging with it. I am thinking about a Composite Acoustics OX for such purposes.”
© JW (used with permission)
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