Stromberg’s top model guitars, with huge 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.
Charle's oldest son, Harry worked in the shop for a few years, but moved on to a different career. Elmer joined the shop and the changes he made provided a 15 year golden era for the business.
The Stromberg's top of the line guitar was the Master 400 featuring stylish engraving on the headstock veneer. The body was 19" across the lower bout. In fact their guitars were either 18" or 19" and designed to compete with horns and brass in the big bands of that era.
Guitarist Freddie Green, of the Count Basie Orchestra, used Strombergs exclusively, playing both the Master 400 and the Master 300. Irving Ashby played a Stromberg. He was Nat King Cole's guitarist before Oscar Moore. A banjo wizard of the 40's Jame's Buster Modello endorsed Stromberg banjos and guitars. Jazz player Barry Galbraith played a G-5 model.
Currently "Ranger" Doug Green from Riders in the Sky and The Time Jumpers plays and collects Strombergs. In fact he is THE authority on Strombergs. Little known fact is Doug worked at Gruhn's Guitars in Nashville many years ago.
The Stromberg Master 400 is very scarce and if you find one, expect it to cost around $40,000.
The Stromberg Master 400 is considered to be the ultimate orchestral rhythm guitar beating out Gibson's top of the archtop line 400 model. It is said these instrument are not as sweet sounding as D'Angelicos, but have better projection. In the days when electronic amplification was not the norm, a loud acoustic was necessary.
The Stromberg's produced only 636 guitars, which accounts for their value due to scarcity.
The models they offered were a limited selection. The G-1, G-2 and G-3 were 17 3/8th" across the lower bout with the G-2 and G-3 being fancier with an upgraded tailpiece. The G-3 had a cutaway
The Deluxe model came with or without a cutaway was also 17 3/8th" across the lower bout.
The Master 300 had a 19" span acrosss the lower bout and a stair step bound pickguard and block inlaid position markers.
Cutaway Master 400's are extremely rare.
The Strombergs did not keep records, so it is difficult to determine the provenance of each instrument. During the era when these were new instruments, word of mouth was the way that jazz players found out about new Stromberg models, or where a used one could be found for sale.
Barry Galbraith once told his friend Hank Garland about a new short scale model that he had just acquired. Garland set out to have one of these built for himself. Garland was one of many jazz guitarists that preferred a short scale neck to aid in quick chord changes and cut down on string tension.
Although the top of Stromberg guitars made from the 1940's on is carved and solid, the back and sides on some are laminated.
Their are some cosmetic flaws in Strombergs which may have earned them only 3 stars in Guitar Player (if it had been around), but these guitars were designed as working instruments.
Interestingly, some of the wood the Strombergs used was scavenged from old Boston buildings that were being demolished.
One of the drawbacks of Stromberg guitars that had headstock veneer is the veneer was made of nitrocellulous and is subject to deterioration.
Charles and Elmer both died in 1955 within months of each other. Elmer was in an automobile crash. This ended Stromberg Guitars.