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Category Archives: Classic Instruments

Gibson Johnny Smith

 
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In 1961, Gibson’s Johnny Smith model not only associated Gibson with one of the most popular guitar stylists of the day, it also brought high-quality amplification and high-quality acoustic sound together for the first time. From Gibson’s first electric “Spanish” guitar, the ES-150 of 1936, Gibson had fashioned an electric guitar by cutting a hole […]

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Supro S6651

Supro S6651 Big Star
 
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Don’t we guitarists just love gear that looks like it was salvaged from our mom’s kitchen circa 1961? Give us something in high-gloss pastel, with Formica styling, gas-cooker knobs, plenty of chrome, and an emblem lifted off a fridge door and we go weak in the knees every time. When it comes to kitchen kitsch, […]

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1964 Fender Bassman

 
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1964 Fender 6G6-B Bassman Preamp tubes: four 7025 (12AX7 types) Output tubes: two 5881 (a more-rugged 6L6 type), fixed-bias Rectifier: solidstate Controls: Bass Instrument channel: Volume, Treble, Bass; Normal channel: Volume, Treble, Bass; shared: Presence Output: 50 watts RMS Utter the word “Bassman” in guitar circles, and most players’ minds rush to the tweed-covered 4×10″ […]

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Gibson EB-2

Kalamazoo’s Biggest Bass Innovation?
 
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In the mid 1950s, Gibson president Ted McCarty was paying close attention to two new instruments impacting the musical-instruments market – the solidbody electric guitar and the electric bass. Both had been developed by an upstart company called Fender, and Gibson’s original solidbodies, the Les Paul guitar and Electric Bass (VG, February ’06) were introduced […]

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Big Beat Boys

Musings on Fab and Gear, 50 Years Ago
 
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Americans tend to link the beginnings of the Beatles phenomenon to a specific date – February 9, 1964, when the group first appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The truth, as always, is that the band’s records had crashed the American charts weeks before, and the run-up to this seemingly overnight phenomenon had taken years. […]

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Ampeg VT-22

 
Ampeg VT-22

Preamp tubes: four 7025 (12AX7 types) Output tubes: two 5881 (a more-rugged 6L6 type), fixed-bias Rectifier: solidstate Controls: Bass Instrument channel: Volume, Treble, Bass; Normal channel: Volume, Treble, Bass; shared: Presence Output: 50 watts RMS Insiders from the golden era of the New Jersey amp manufacturer have frequently (more…)

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Kramer Aluminum-Neck Basses

 
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When it entered the music-instrument market in 1976, Kramer Guitars made a big splash with an aggressive marketing campaign, big-name endorsers, and – most importantly – an improved approach to the then-fresh concept of aluminum necks. In terms of stability, the aluminum neck was seen as an improvement over wood. And while Kramer Guitars followed […]

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Lyon and Healy

 
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So what is it? Its original black-finished spruce top is simply ladder-braced from within, but its back and sides feature Brazilian rosewood with dramatic bookmatched figure. Its unbound 18-fret fingerboard –also of rosewood – sports only a few small, round dots for position makers, yet intricate multicolored wood purfling graces much of the rest of […]

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The G&L El Toro

 
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At the beginning of 1983, Leo Fender was just more than three years into his last guitar-manufacturing venture when he decided to diversify the company’s bass lineup. Until that point, G&L had marketed the one-pickup L-1000, the two-pickup L-2000, and the no-frills SB-1 and SB-2 models – all with fairly traditional, straightforward designs. The brand’s […]

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Fender’s First Reissues

The CBS Era Concludes in Style
 
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By the late 1970s, cumulative changes in the details of the various classic guitar models on the market – Fender’s Stratocaster and Telecaster, and Gibson’s Les Paul – were so numerous that the instruments barely resembled their original versions. Serious electric guitar players and collectors clamored for reissues of the original instruments. But both manufacturers, […]

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