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Author Archives: Michael Wright

Dickerson Standard Lap Steel

 
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Though today they are viewed as little more than curious relics of a lost era, during the Great Depression, “mother of toilet seat” Hawaiian lap steels were one of the most popular types of guitar. You could argue that these little electrics blazed the trail for the later popularity of electric Spanish guitars. There were […]

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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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Custom Kraft Red Fury

 
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Most guitar aficionados are comfortable with the notion of guitar brands being made by the company of the same name. But when it comes to guitars made by one company and sold by another, we frequently stray out of our comfort zone. Yet, some of the most significant players in American guitar history never actually […]

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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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Watkins Rapier 33

 
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If you were an American teenager in the late 1950s or early ’60s, and you wanted to play the new rock music, you likely did not have a solidbody electric guitar from Fender, Gibson, or Rickenbacker. More likely the guitar would be from Harmony, Kay, or Supro. If you lived in the U.K., you probably […]

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Electra MPC

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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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