Guitar Boogie - Merlin Arthur Smith Country Squire

Guitar Boogie - Merlin Arthur Smith Country Squire

Greco produced some wild guitars in the late 1960s as well as some very nice Gibson/Fender knockoffs. Generally speaking, their guitars are of very good quality. 

Most of Greco’s products came from the outstanding FujiGen factory that also produced guitars for Ibanez, Yamaha, and Fender Japan.

In the late 1960s Greco introduced the model 921, a double florentine rosewood beauty with three single coils, and a Bigsby style vibrato. 

However there was a one-off label and signature model for the same guitar. The headstock read “Merlin” and the model, an Arthur Smith Country Squire.

Just like Western Auto offered a house brand of guitars back in the day it is thought Lowe’s Home Improvement tried the same thing in 1968.  Lowe’s was founded in rural western NC and the local country music celebrity was Arthur Smith based in Charlotte, about a one-hour drive from Lowe’s HQ. 

What Lowe's Looked Like When the Home-Improvement Retailer Opened

Smith had his own nationally syndicated TV program, the Arthur Smith Show.  It was the first nationally syndicated show focused on country music broadcast from WBTV in Charlotte. 

What helped propel Smith was a giant hit from 1945, “Guitar Boogie”. It sold 3 million records and you may be familiar with Tommy Emmanuel’s version of the same song. Or The Ventures rendition, “Guitar Boogie Shuffle”.

Commemorating Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith on His 5th Death Anniversary

He also had another hit that was yet to be a hit. Smith wrote and recorded “Feudin’ Banjos” in 1955. Otherwise made popular as “Dueling Banjos” from the movie Deliverance.

The exact origin or reasoning behind the Arthur Smith Country Squire is unknown. Lowe’s was a sponsor of Arthur’s TV show so there was a relationship between the two. Presumably, the almighty dollar drove the equation at a time when guitar mania was being driven by Beatlemania.

Merlin Arthur Smith Country Squire specs: Rosewood body, Lemonwood neck, Rosewood fretboard, Mother of pearl fret inlays, 3 single coils, 3 volume and 1 tone control, 3 on/off pickup selector switches

For those in the western North Carolina loop…

Arthur Smith was the bigger name of the two in the late 60s, but Doc Watson’s home was only about 25 minutes from Lowe’s HQ at the time. I suppose this guitar is a little sexier on the shelf than a Greco acoustic :-).

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