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Billie Joe Armstrong Black Les Paul - as requested! 

Gibson Billie Joe Armstrong Les Paul Jr Black sold by Garrett’s Guitars on Reverb

Here is something pretty incredible, spotted on my trip to New York City.  It is a 1951 Bigsby 10 string electric mandolin for sale at Retrofret Vintage Guitars in Brooklyn NY.

Many people will know the Bigsby name because you can still see his tremolo design on many guitars to this day. People have also accused Leo Fender of “borrowing” Bigsby’s headstock design for the Stratocaster. As you can see in this instrument, they are extremely similar!

The letter behind it is the original order for this mandolin, from a man in Jefferson City, MO. Where you see something with a bunch of asterisks enclosed in brackets, e.g. (***bla bla bla***), it’s where I either can’t read the typeface or the type is obscured by the instrument.

The letter reads:

October 15, 1951.

Mr. Paul Bigsby
8114 E. Phlox St.
Downey, California

Dear Mr. Bigsby:

I have decided to purchase one of your 10 string mandolins. I would like for you to make mine just like the other 3 you have made with one exception. Make the tail piece in such a manner that I might use both the looped-end stings (such as Black Diamond and Gibson) and your kind of string.

I prefer the mandolin with two (2) pick-ups.

I have written to both A. Geddings (***spelling unclear***) of Long Beach California, and Paul Buskirk of Memphis tennessee (sic) and they are both WELL pleased with your instruments , and I am sure you will make one just as good for me.

As per your letter of September 21, I am enclosing a deposit of $100 (*** it might say $200 rather than $100. The type is not clear***), with this letter and when completed, which I hope will be about the first of December, I will pay the balance, as I have just today gone to the bank and borrowed $300 for this purpose. Also in your letter of the 21st, you state that there will be an excise tax of $11.25, which I fully consent to pay.

If I have a choice, I prefer a “blonde” mandolin, but that is not an important point and will take mine the way you make them.

I would like for you to acknowledge receipt of the order and deposit as soon as possible and approximately when you think you will have completed the 10 string mandolin with the TWO pick-ups. Also if there is any choice concerning various parts of the instruments such as color, designs of (***type not visible***), dots, (***illegible***), etc.

Thank you……….

Very truly yours,

John J. M(***illegible***)

JJM/jjm