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Author Archives: Michael Wright

National Westwood

 
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Whether Valco – the company that made National guitars in the 1950s and ’60s – was actually inspired by U.S. geography when it created its legendary “map” guitars is unknown, but they may well have simply meant to be eye-catching in the dry days before the Beatles ignited the mania for electric guitars. Whatever the […]

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La Baye 2X4

 
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1967, the Summer of Love. Everything still seemed possible, and anything went. No more war, racial and gender equality, Fresh Cream, the Beatles best record ever, the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Phew! What a difference the next year would bring! And that applied to guitars. None more than this classic minimalist La Baye 2×4 “Six.” This […]

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Gibson Marauder M-1

 
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1978 Gibson Marauder M-1 Every once in awhile, someone in Gibson R&D gets a brainstorm like, “I know! Why don’t we make a bolt-neck guitar!” So they do. And the result is almost always interesting – and almost always a commercial flop. Call it “Les Paul syndrome.” Guitar aficionados are the beneficiaries of both sides […]

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1978 Gibson RD Artist

 
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Throughout most of the 1970s, Les Pauls ruled the guitar roost. But toward the end of the decade, some players became interested in more-sophisticated electronics, especially active circuitry. Suddenly, souped-up guitars by Alembic, B.C. Rich, Ibanez, and Aria Pro II surged in popularity. This new trend did not take Gibson by surprise, and the challenge was […]

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Cole Eclipse Pro Special

 
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Straight-from-the-catalog instruments are fun – and reassuring – because you know exactly what you’ve got. But there’s another kind of thrill – and satisfaction – when you find something that’s totally off the radar, something that presents a mystery to be solved, like this circa 1913 Cole’s Eclipse banjo, which sports a Washburn headstock and […]

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The Yosco No. 2

Tenor Banjo
 
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The banjo and American music cross paths in a remarkably entangled web of complexity. The banjo was brought to the New World – conceptually, at least – by African slaves who used it to create music subsequently appropriated by 19th-century white entertainers, who created blackface minstrelsy, which became the basis of Vaudeville and a great […]

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Gibson EDS-1275 and EMS-1235

 
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It’s hard not to associate doubleneck electric guitars with images of Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page or fusion guru Mahavishnu John McLaughlin in the ’70s; however, the fact is that by the time the Big Js were stopping shows with these multi-headed beasts, they were already relics of the past. Doubleneck Spanish guitars got their first […]

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1968 Teisco May Queen

Perennial Classic, Made in Japan
 
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While many Japanese guitars from the 1960s took their inspiration from American and European models, to the observant eye, there’s a strong undercurrent of Japanese design evident in many of these instruments. However, it doesn’t take much subtlety of vision to see the essential Japanese character of the guitars that burst on the scene in […]

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Fender Competition Mustang

 
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Little Deuce Coupe. T-birds. Cars and the California lifestyle are inextricably intertwined… and of course, guitars figure in, too – just flash back to those mid-’60s Fender ads showing surfers and guitars on the beach. So it should come as no surprise that Fender would market a guitar – entry-level, of course – to potential […]

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The Charvel Model 4

 
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Certain guitar brands develop a mystique among aficionados – sometimes it’s even deserved! Somewhere on this continuum lie Charvel USA guitars made in the early ’80s in San Dimas, California. Curiously, that “San Dimas guitar” mystique didn’t rub off to its foreign cousins like the Model 4 – the fine Japanese-made Charvels produced beginning in […]

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