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NMM 10863.  Guitar by Elmer Stromberg, Boston, 1946.
Master 400 (19″).  Serial number 571. 
Tony and Bonnie Vinatieri Family Trust, 2005.

NMM 10863.  Guitar by Elmer Stromberg, Boston, 1946

Stromberg’s top models, with their colossal, nineteen-inch-wide bodies, provided the tremendous volume and projection needed for a rhythm guitarist to be heard in the large jazz orchestras of the 1940s. Charles and Elmer, father and son, worked together in Boston, beginning in the early 1930s. Though they competed for business with John D’Angelico in New York, their total output was only 636 instruments, a little more than half the number made by D’Angelico.

NMM 10863 reflects Stromberg’s post-1940 style, with a single diagonal top brace and carved, rather than pressed, arching. The Master 400 was their top grade instrument, with a decoratively engraved and painted headstock veneer and maximum body size. Both Charles and Elmer died in 1955, as musical tastes were changing; rock and roll and country had begun to overshadow big band jazz as America’s most popular musical styles.

Inscriptions:  Printed in blue ink on adapted paper mailing label with decorative border, the guarantee and serial number typed:  FROM [scratched out in pencil] / Chas. A. Stromberg & Son / 40 HANOVER ST., BOSTON, MASS. / for [scratched out in pencil] This Guitar is guaranteed for a / lifetime to original purchaser if / used properly. Serial #571.

Engraved and painted on headstock:  400 / Stromberg / BOSTON / MASS.

Die-stamped twice on inside of back, visible through each f-hole:  571

Stamped on tuner gear covers:  KLUSON

400 model guitar by Stromberg

Boston, city in which guitar was built

Front, Back, and Side Views

Front of guitar Bass side of guitar Treble side of guitar Back of guitar

Body:  Soundboard:  arched, two-piece, quarter-cut spruce: wide grain. Back:  two-piece maple cut off-the-quarter: medium, horizontal curl; wide grain. Ribs:  two-piece, slab-cut maple with faint blister figure. Head:  maple with black celluloid over white celluloid veneer; model and signature engraved in headstock and painted ivory and gold. Neck:  two-piece maple; integral with head; maple of inlay along center line with brown-stained maple strips on each side.

Front and Back Views of the Guitar Body

Front of guitar body Back of guitar body

Inlay:  Binding:  white celluloid; trim comprised of five-ply (black-white-black-white-black) celluloid purfling strips on top and two-ply (black-white) celluloid purfling strips on back and ribs. Soundholes:  f-holes bound in two-ply black and white celluloid purfling strip trim.


Front of Fretboard and Peghead

Front of peghead

Back of Peghead and Neck

Back of peghead
Back of neck

Trim:  Heel cap:  five-ply thin black-white-black-white-black celluloid layers. Fingerboard:  ebony bound in ivoroid with five-ply (black-white-black-white-black) celluloid purfling strip trim on top sides, two-ply black-white celluloid purfling strip on lower end and sides; end terminating in a point, with rounded edges on the sides; 20 nickel-silver frets; mother-of-pearl block behind 15th fret; split mother-of-pearl blocks behind 1st, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 12th frets; black celluloid side dots behind 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, and 15th frets. Nut:  bone. Bridge:  two-piece rosewood (compensated) with brass screws for height adjustment; triangular mother-of-pearl inlays on each bridge foot. Tuners:  six Kluson gold-plated brass worm-gear machine tuners with tulip-shaped, yellow, marbleized celluloid heads. Endpin:  white celluloid. Pick guard:  translucent imitation tortoise-shell celluloid bound in white celluloid with five-ply (black-white-black-white-black) celluloid purfling strip trim with stair-step outline on treble side, mounted on guitar with gold-plated brass bracket and three gold-plated steel screws; bracket possibly later. Lacquer:  dark red-brown sunburst.


Click on soundhole to see
composite image of maker's label

F-hole of Stromberg guitar





Neck Heel, Bridge, and Lower End

Neck Heel

Lower end of guitar

Interior:  Linings:  maple on back; kerfed maple on top. Neck block:  mahogany; rounded corners. End block:  spruce; grain runs parallel to plane of top and back; chamfered corners. Top bracing:  spruce diagonal bar. Reinforcements:  spruce diamond cleats along inside of top joint; white canvas reinforcement strip on inside of top, upper bouts.

Measurements (actual):  Total guitar length:  1096 mm (43-3/16″)
Back length:  554 mm (21-13/16″)
Upper bout width:  328 mm (12-29/32″)
Waist width:  275 mm (10-27/32″)
Lower bout width:  485 mm (19-1/8″)
Rib height (including edging) at heel:  90 mm (3-9/16″)
Rib height, at waist:  88 mm (3-7/16″)
Rib height, at end block:  89 mm (3-1/2″)
Head length:  195 mm (7-11/16″)
Head width, top:  82 mm (3-7/32″)
Head width, bottom:  102 mm (4″)
Neck length (nut to ribs):  348 mm (13-11/16″)
Neck width, nut:  44 mm (1-21/32″)
Neck width, heel:  55 mm (2-5/32″)
Soundhole length:  179 mm (7-1/32″)
Vibrating string length (nut to bridge edge):  high E:  646 mm (25-7/16″); low E:  650 mm (25-19/32″)

Accessories: Plywood case covered in brown imitation-leather-texture canvas with blue plush lining, chrome-plated steel hardware stamped USA / EXCELSIOR / STAMFORD / CONN. / 151, and later handle.

Return to Checklist of Musical Instruments by Stromberg

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Most recent update: March 24, 2014

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