What you may not know, however, is that Paul Bigsby – the inventor of said vibrato – also made a select number of pioneering pedal steel guitars for some of the best players in country music in the 1940s and 1950s, and an even smaller number of made-to-order standard electric guitars for legends like Merle Travis, Billy Byrd, and Hank Garland.
Now, one of those ultra-rare Bigsby standard guitars, a 1958 semi-hollow electric that's said to be in "very good" condition, has been listed for sale on Reverb.com.
What's more, the guitar's owner, Retrofret Vintage Guitars, says that it's believed to be the very last standard guitar that Bigsby ever built. With that remarkable history in mind, the guitar has been listed for an eye-watering $750,000.
Though the exact amount of standard, Spanish-neck electric guitars that Bigsby built is unknown, it's thought to be no more than 50. On top of that, as made-to-order guitars, each Bigsby six-string was very much unique, further increasing the value of those that survive in good condition.
This particular instrument was made in mid-late 1958 for a man named Larry (hence the inlay on the pickguard), who – according to the listing – was a guitarist who operated a studio somewhere in the Midwest.
It boasts an uneven double-cutaway body (which is indeed semi-hollow, though it looks solid) with a shallow, hooked upper cutaway and a thin lower horn. Retrofret says that the unusual-for-Bigsby body design is similar to another Paul Bigsby model from early 1956, but that the "Larry" model features more extreme cutaways.
The semi-hollow guitar features a maple top and back and walnut sides, while the neck is made of laminated maple with a walnut center core and features a rosewood fingerboard with pearl inlays.
In terms of electronics, the '58 Bigsby is armed with two single coil pickups that were handwound by Paul Bigsby, and are housed in milled aluminum covers. Controls come in the form of master volume and master tone knobs, and a three-way pickup selector.
The guitar's white plastic truss rod cover mimics its headstock shape, and its tuners are clipped Kluson Deluxes. The guitar's spec sheet is rounded out by, what else, a Bigsby vibrato.
Obviously, an instrument with such extraordinary value and rarity is bound to give rise to some skepticism, but Retrofret Vintage Guitars boasts a five-star rating on Reverb, and all the background info given in the listing seems to check out.
To see the full listing of the 1958 Paul Bigsby "Larry" guitar for yourself, stop by Reverb.