Heritage Guitar Inc of Parsons St, Kalamazoo, Michigan was incorporated in 1985. The company is now 35 years old, and has achieved the status of one of the premier guitar manufacturers in the world today. In many instances, it is the new guitar line stocked by countless vintage shops throughout the world. Heritage is often thought of as the collectible guitar of tomorrow.
Heritage Guitar began when the Gibson Guitar Corporation closed its Kalamazoo, Michigan factory in September of 1984 and moved all production to its other plant in Nashville, Tennessee. At the time, some of the employees decided not to uproot their familes and move. So three men, Jim Deurloo, Marvin Lamb, and JP Moats, decided to start a guitar manufacturing business. Two other former Gibson employees, Bill Paige and Mike Korpak, joined as owners.
The founders’ most valuable asset was the group of craftsmen they could draw upon to begin operations. The owners themselves had more than 25 years each of guitar making experience. Heritage started operations in the oldest of five buildings formerly owned and operated by Gibson, and most of the machinery that Heritage still uses today was purchased from Gibson.
Heritage produced the Johnny Smith “The Rose” model between 1989 and 2002. Features included a single cutaway, solid spruce top, curly maple back and rim, multiple-bound top and back, bound f-holes. 5 piece curly maple neck. Multiple-bound, 25" scale ebony ﬁngerboard with abalone block inlays. Multiple-bound peghead veneer with abalone and mother of pearl rose inlay. One Heritage jazz pickup float mounted to bound curly maple pickguard. Black hardware. Body width 17", body thickness 3".
Body shape features - carved top, single cutaway, hollow body
Body top material – hand carved solid spruce body top
Body back material - maple
Body sides material - maple body sides
Pickguard material - wooden pickguard
Soundhole - 2 f-holes
Bridge - ebony bridge
Hardware colour - black hardware
Tailpiece - trapeze tailpiece
Fingerboard inlay material - abalone
Fingerboard material - ebony fingerboard
Fingerboard position markers - block fingerboard position markers
Scale length - 25 inches
Number of frets - 20
Peghead - bound headstock
Tuner layout - three-each-side
Pickups configuration - 1 Heritage humbucker pickup
Made in USA
This particular Heritage Johnny Smith “The Rose” archtop is in completely original, virtually mint condition. It was made in 1995 as part of a production run of less than 100. It has been beautifully looked after, and shows virtually no sign of player wear.
The interior label of this instrument shows the marking “tap’d” which means that the Heritage luthier tap-tuned the top and back when hand carving this guitar. This is a custom extra which cost an additional US$1000. As a result, this guitar is extraordinarily lively and super lightweight at only 5.8 lbs, reflecting the extra special attention afforded it by its creators.
The guitar label is also personally signed by Johnny Smith, one of the true legends of jazz guitar, who died in 2013.
His story is well documented at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Smith. So too is the story of the various Johnny Smith guitar models which are fundamentally the same design principles executed by Guild in the late 1950s, Gibson in the 1960s - 1980s, then Heritage, and most recently Guild/Benedetto.
In 2008, respected vintage guitar experts George Gruhn and Walter Carter wrote in Vintage Guitar Magazine - “The Smith model endured Gibson’s move from Kalamazoo to Nashville in ’84 and the acquisition by its current owners in ’86. However, Smith’s loyalty stayed with the crew in Kalamazoo [ex Gibson staff who bought the old Gibson factory], and in ’89 he moved his endorsement to Heritage.” See http://www.vintageguitar.com/3569/gibson-johnny-smith/
This instrument truly reflects the excellence of golden era Gibson and Heritage craftsmanship.
Comes in its original hard shell Heritage case in scuffed but serviceable condition.Demo of same model - https://youtu.be/7amBmmI4bqg