My Favorite Guitar – 1970s NMI

NMI Guitar

This is my favorite guitar.  Other guitarists ask me about it almost every time I pull it out of its case.  Most of the time, the question I get is, “What is that?”

This is an NMI, or “Nashville Musical Instruments” as the tag inside the sound hole reads. Over the years, I’ve researched the origins this guitar as much as is possible on the internet and with little results.  As far as I can figure, it was built some time in the 1970s by a company owned by an aspiring Nashville businessman who drew up the designs and had them manufactured in Japan.


There was a period in guitar making known as “the lawsuit era” because guitar makers would copycat big-brand models and sell them for a fraction of the price. This guitar is basically an exact copy of a Guild D44 (down to the model number being 44D).  It plays like a 70s Guild too.  I have a few friends who own 70s Guilds, and they can’t tell the difference. Unless you look at the NMI on the headstock, you’d have no idea you’re playing a copycat.  

NMI Headstock

The back is interesting too.  Unlike most guitars that have a darker wood color on the back, this one is completely blond.  The color on the back is the same as the sides.

NMI Back

My NMI was a gift from a very generous friend who believed in my mission and my music.  He gave it to me before I headed off to college, and I can’t ever begin to repay his generosity.  The best I can do is use it to the best of my ability, and it has indeed seen some serious milage! I have travelled thousands of miles and played thousands of songs for thousands of people with this guitar.  Countless songs have been written on this guitar.

God forbid, if my house were to catch on fire and I could only rescue one possession, I think it would be this guitar.


  1. I mostly play electric guitar and have owned a number of Gibson electric guitars over the years. For my one and only acoustic, I have a NMI that is a copy of a Martin D35. Bought it new in 1978 for about $250 (about $800 – $900 today). Plays nice, has a nice mellow tone. The wood has aged and taken on an amber tone. It’s beautiful instrument. I’m not sure but I think the top may be laminated rather than solid spruce. I’ve also looked for information on this company and found very little. Today I took it to a local music store to purchase a better case. While there I compared it to several Martins and Taylors ($1000 – $2500 guitars). OK, it’s not a Martin but it compared pretty well. After all these years, I’ll never sell it, but I may eventually buy a Martin D19.

    If you google “Nashville musical instruments” or “NMI guitar” you will find a thread in the acoustic guitar forum with several NMI owners.

  2. most are great guitars and very comprable to what they’re copying and they’re solid top back and sides most definitely!

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