Wood From Elvis Presley’s Graceland Used To Make World-Class Guitars

Image635060970228971997Envision a collection of guitars fit for “The King!” That’s exactly what world-class luthier Manuel Delgado, of Delgado Guitars, and Gabriel Hernandez, of Blues Vintage Guitars, Inc., have set out to do.

Delgado and Hernandez have joined forces to produce what will surely become one of the most talked about and sought after collection of guitars in quite some time – a limited run of handmade stringed instruments crafted from authentic, untouched white-washed fence wood that once bordered legend Elvis Presley’s beloved Graceland home in Memphis, Tennessee.

Each instrument model will have its own unique name and design, but all will feature an exclusive hand-carved top made from the wood that once surrounded one of the world’s most celebrated and recognized landmarks.

Hernandez, founder and owner of Nashville’s Blues Vintage Guitars, Inc., purchased the wood last year from a longtime confidant of Presley’s personal circle of friends. He later approached Delgado – a third generation guitar maker – about producing the special, limited run of guitars, and Delgado jumped at the opportunity to make them.

“The wood has a unique look and quality to it,” Delgado said. “It’s obviously historical, and the chance to turn it into a stringed instrument that commemorates such an iconic musical figure is something I’m happy and honored to be part of.”

This special, limited run of guitars will be known officially as the “3764 Series” – which is Graceland’s street number on Elvis Presley Blvd. in Memphis – and each instrument model will have its own unique name relating to “The King.” The first guitar of the “3764 Series” is appropriately named “Memphis” – the city where Elvis was discovered, where he lived for nearly 30 years and, of course, where he died unexpectedly in 1977.

The “Memphis” features a light Ash single cutaway body with a handcrafted top from the Graceland wood. The smooth and very fast neck is handcrafted from Hard Rock Maple and topped with a beautiful African Ebony fingerboard. Both the body and fingerboard are accented with beautiful tortoiseshell binding. And in true “Elvis” fashion, all of the guitar’s hardware will be gold, including gold frets, a single gold neck pickup, a gold roller bridge, and gold Bigsby tailpiece.

The only common element on every model of this limited run will be the fingerboard inlays, which will feature the numbers “3 7 6 4” in stunning Mother of Pearl on the ninth, seventh, fifth and third frets, respectively. The name of each guitar – in this case “MEMPHIS” – will be inlaid into the headstock peghead, also in magnificent Mother of Pearl.

The wood itself came from the estate of Mike McGregor, Elvis’ longtime friend and employee. The King first hired McGregor – a blacksmith and custom leatherworker – in 1967 as a ranch hand on his Circle G ranch in Mississippi. They became close friends, and Elvis eventually moved McGregor to Graceland where he made everything from saddles to concert belts to guitar straps to holsters to leather jackets and suits especially for Elvis. In 1976, McGregor and his wife Barbara – herself an accomplished seamstress – decided to move back to Mississippi where they continued to make personal items for Elvis, while also making clothes, jewelry and leather goods for clientele that included Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Jim Weatherly, among many, many others.

Shortly after Elvis’ death in 1977, however, McGregor and his wife returned to Memphis and opened a shop across the street from Graceland selling their exclusive merchandise to visiting Elvis fans from all over the world. The shop remained at this location until McGregor’s death in 1999, when Barbara relocated the shop back to Mississippi. It remained in Oxford until her death in 2007.

At that time, Kim Taylor – McGregor’s close friend and business partner – handled the shop’s closing, including the liquidation of the McGregors’ extensive personal collection of Elvis memorabilia, which included a small pile of wood planks that once surrounded Graceland. Hernandez purchased the wood from Taylor early last year.

Taylor describes the wood as follows:

“The side with the unpainted edges was the outside of the fence. These fence boards [faced] the east, north and south of the backyard and pasture of Graceland. Some were along the west side, north of the house, so they were along the driveway behind the church. For that reason, many of these boards were not marked up like [the boards in] the areas more open to the public. Mike did not pick them for the markings… but for the usefulness of the boards [for] his shop display.

“[The] writing on these [are] mostly in pencil or faded marker, and it’s almost all badly faded. Those [that are] not faded were… used as background for Mike’s Elvis display. A few are scratched, or carved. Writing is legible on some, and not on others.”

“I’ve been around guitars all my life, and it’s a dream come true to actually be involved with the development and marketing of a brand new guitar – especially one as unique and exclusive as this series,” Hernandez said. “And this is just the first one. We obviously plan on making a few more, but we promise each one will be as exceptional and unique as this first one. We’ve already talked about the second one and, frankly, I can’t wait to get it going!”

Obviously, each guitar is a “one of kind” creation and will not be duplicated. Additionally, when the wood runs out, the “3764 Series” of Delgado Guitars will be officially closed. No more will ever be made.

The guitars are available on a first come, first served basis, so now is your chance to reserve your piece of Elvis history by contacting Delgado Guitars or Blues Vintage Guitars directly for more details. Additionally some models will have certain features available for special order, which gives the enthusiast, player or collector the opportunity to not only reserve their very own “3764 Series” guitar, but also have some of the features customized and/or personalized to their own liking.

“The possibilities are somewhat endless,” Delgado said. “If you desire it, I can probably build it. Like all the guitars I build, I want each one of these ‘3764 Series’ guitars to tell their own story. And the only way to do that is to let the customer – then the guitar – do the talking!”

Delgado will be putting the finishing touches on the “3764 MEMPHIS” in Booth 118 at the AT&T U-verse Fan Fair X at Nashville’s newest, most state-of-the-art venue – the Music City Center. Both Delgado and Hernandez will be on hand from June 6-9, to discuss all facets of the “3764 Series” and its first installment, the “MEMPHIS.” Stop by the booth to catch a glimpse of what will surely become one of the most collectible guitars of all-time!

For more information on this very exclusive collection of guitars, contact Manuel Delgado of Delgado Guitars at (615) 227-4578 or via email at manuel@delgadoguitars.com, or Gabriel Hernandez of Blues Vintage Guitars at (615) 613-1389 or via email at bluesvintageguitar@att.net.

About Delgado Guitars

Image635060967290463924Manuel Delgado is a third generation master luthier. He is the youngest child of Candelario “Candelas” Delgado (2nd) and grandson of Porfirio Delgado Flores (1st), who began repairing and building guitars in Torreon, Mexico, in 1928. Manuel started playing the guitar at age five and repairing them by age seven. He built his first guitar by the age of 12, beating his father's record by two years. By 1946 the Delgado family moved their operations to El Paso, Texas, and by 1948 settled in the Los Angeles, California area, where they established a stellar reputation as both repairers and builders of many different types of fine stringed instruments for both A-list musicians and entertainers as well as players and collectors of all ages. Manuel’s father passed away in 1996, but Manuel has proudly carried on the family’s legacy without any reservation. He moved the business to Nashville, Tennessee – Music City USA – in 2005, and has continued to produce fine, custom-built stringed instruments with the same respect and integrity of the Delgado family’s rich tradition and heritage. For more information on Delgado Guitars, please visit www.delgadoguitars.com.

About Blues Vintage Guitars

Image635060967632233472Gabriel Hernandez – a guitar player since the age of six – moved his family to Nashville from south Florida several years ago to be web editor for Gibson Guitars, but became a casualty of the struggling economy and found himself laid off without warning in 2009. Needing to find a way to make ends meet, and fortunate enough to know a lot about guitars and a thing or two about marketing, Hernandez started buying and selling guitars and other musical instruments online. Within a few short months, he turned his “part-time” endeavor into a full-time business. He started out with a small retail location near Nashville's famed Music Row, but decided to move into a more “office”-oriented location where he could concentrate on online sales but still have a place where customers could come and sell merchandise and/or view available inventory. Today, in a town full of musical instrument dealers, Blues Vintage Guitars is considered one of Nashville's premier destinations for buying and selling vintage and newer, high-end used musical instruments and gear. For more information on Blues Vintage Guitars, please visit www.facebook.com/bluesvintageguitars, or email Hernandez at bluesvintageguitar@att.net. 

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