Blue, Blue, Blue Guitars

electric archtop
Wikimedia Commons

"We considered purple and even red," says Scott Chinery, owner of 1,000-plus guitars, the world's biggest and best such collection. "But blue was the perfect color to jolt people out of the old, staid way of looking at the archtop." Archtops, you see, look, well, hokey. They're fashioned after the centuries-old design of violins — the top is arched for better tonality. The first archtop was patented in 1898. To honor the centennial, Chinery commissioned 21 master luthiers to craft 22 blue archtop guitars. All are on display at the National Museum of American History through October 1. Hokey? "Not at all," says Ravi, a guitarist with Hanson, the planet's top teen heartthrob group, who has played several. "They're very cool."

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