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Author Archives: Michael Wright

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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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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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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Renaissance T-200G

 
1980 Renaissance T-200G Home thumb

What is it about Plexiglas? It’s so cool. You can see through it onstage. It’s dense, yet resonant. You’d think it would be the perfect medium for a mean rock and roll machine. And it’s not like people haven’t tried! But for some mysterious reason(s), practically every attempt to make a successful Plexiglas guitar has […]

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Spectrum 5

 
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Joining playful mid-’60s cultural icons such as the Ford Mustang, NBC’s “The Monkees,” the Beatles’ “Nowhere Man” and Cassius Clay, the Teisco Del Rey Spectrum 5 was the high-water mark of original Japanese design from the era. It’s also one of the most sought-after import guitars – with good reason. Debuting circa 1966 and lasting only a […]

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Yamaha Image

 
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Some years back, an insurance company promoted itself as “the quiet company.” While they probably wouldn’t like to hear it, in many ways that description fits Yamaha guitars. Whether you say acoustic or electric, Yamaha is almost never the first name that leaps to mind. Nevertheless, since the mid 1960s, Yamaha has been quietly turning […]

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Electra MPC

Standard X340
 
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One of the more successful Japanese-made guitar brands of the 1970s was Electra, the brand name used for electric guitars sold by St. Louis Music of St. Louis, Missouri.  If prices on eBay are any indicator, it’s clear that guitar aficionados have little appreciation about how good and innovative these guitars were. Let’s take this […]

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Daion Headhunter HH-555

 

1982 Daion Headhunter HH-555 in Honey sunburst. The trajectory of the Japanese guitar industry in many ways has mirrored that of the United States, though in a slightly compressed timeframe on the front-end because America had a fairly big head start. In any case, people worked for someone, had a better idea, went out on […]

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Kalamazoo KG-1

 

1968 Gibson Kalamazoo U.S.A. KG-1. Collectible value in guitars can be defined any number of ways, and not just by having a popular brand name such as Fender or Gibson. That’s certainly the case with this little guitar! Ask virtually any guitar collector for his or her favorite brand, and Kalamazoo is probably not going […]

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Fender Palomino

 

1969 Fender Palomino. Photo: Michael Wright. Whether all collectors are as attached to nicknames as guitar enthusiasts is unclear. Do salt-and-pepper shaker collectors have fond shortcuts for, say, a Popeye and Olive Oyl set? “Spinach Special?” Maybe! One thing is certain: guitar players and collectors love to come up with affectionate epithets for their favorite […]

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