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Gallery of Iconic Guitars (GIG): General Information

This guide will provide supporting information for the Gallery of Iconic Guitars, located on the first floor of Bunch Library.

About the Collection

"Following Steven Kern Shaw's death, his will specified his desire that his prized instruments be donated to an institution capable of properly exhibiting and caring for the collection, preferably in the Nashville area that had become his home. He also felt strongly that "these instruments are to be played and heard," not just collect dust in a display. Thanks to the input of family friend, co-executor of his estate and vintage guitar expert George Gruhn, the Shaw Collection of nearly 500 unique and irreplaceable instruments came to Belmont University and established the foundation of the museum." The collection on view consists primarily of iconic 20th-century American-made guitars and mandolins, including:

  • Six Gibson F-5 mandolins signed by Gibson’s acoustic engineer Lloyd Loar made in 1922-24. Loar-signed F-5s are considered by many to be the finest mandolins ever made.
  • Two sunburst finish Gibson Les Paul Standard guitars made between mid-1958-60. Considered by many collectors to be the finest solid body electric guitars ever made.
  • Seven extremely rare F-5 mandolins with fern pattern peghead inlay made from 1925 through the mid-1930s.
  • Numerous vintage Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster guitars including a very fine 1955 Stratocaster and 1952 Telecaster.
  • Eight pre-WWII Martin 000-45 guitars, the finest and most ornate Martin guitars made in the 15 inch wide 000 size.
  • Four pre-WWII Martin D-45 guitars made mid 1930s through 1942. Considered by many collectors to be the finest steel string flat top acoustic guitars ever made.
  • 43 mid-1930s through mid-1940s Martin style D-28 guitars with herringbone top trim. Considered by many collectors and musicians to be the finest bluegrass guitars ever made.

Sources: Belmont News and Media, The Gallery of Iconic Guitars exhibit

About Steven Kern Shaw

"The gift of nearly 500 historically significant instruments and supporting endowment—amounting to a total value of approximately $10.5 million—comes from the estate of the late Steven Kern Shaw. Shaw was a collector, philanthropist and the grandson of Broadway composer Jerome Kern who was one of America’s foremost composers of musical theater and popular music (responsible for such classic songs as “Ol’ Man River,” “The Way You Look Tonight” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”)."

Source: Belmont News and Media.

Additional Resources