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Category Archives: Classic Instruments

Maestro Fuzz-Tone

 
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Fuzz. It’s the sound of fury, aggravation, indignation, and – considering the history of the most famous fuzzbox of all time, Maestro’s Fuzz-Tone – dissatisfaction. It’s also fitting as some of the first recorded electric fuzz guitar was heard via Howlin’ Wolf guitarist Willie Lee Johnson, who cut tracks like 1951’s “How Many More Years” […]

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Rickenbacher Model 200A

 
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Several vintage amplifiers that have graced these pages over the years have taken us back to the early days of guitar amplification – the early 1950s, maybe even late ’40s with some of the crustier subjects. This month, however, we travel way back, to the dawn of the electric guitar itself, to visit an amplifier […]

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Gibson’s Experimental Archtop

 
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Orville Gibson invented the carved-top guitar in the 1890s. The Gibson company refined the design with the addition of f-holes in 1922, and brought the concept to full potential in the mid ’30s with larger-bodied archtops. • While Gibson inarguably blazed the trail in the industry when it came to archtop design, that trail had […]

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Late 1920s Gibson L-1 (Flattop)

Gibson "Florentine"
 
Late 1920s Gibson L-1 "Florentine" Home page main

Because I don’t know what to call this Gibson guitar, I refer to it as a “Florentine,” for lack of a better name. Though the body decoration is unlike any cataloged Gibson guitar, the fingerboard and headstock ornamentation is almost identical to Gibson’s Florentine banjo (made between 1927 and ’37). In size, shape, construction and woods, […]

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Three Small Tweeds

Fender Princeton, Deluxe, and Tremolux
 
Fender Princeton, Deluxe, and Tremolux

From 1954 through ’59, the Fender Electric Instrument Mfg. Co. built guitar amplifiers with controls mounted atop using “chickenhead” knobs that go to 12, and covered with “the finest airplane luggage linen.” This line represents the company’s classic “tweed era,” and from the diminutive Champ to the mighty Twin, it remained virtually unchanged throughout the […]

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1905 Gibson F-2

 
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In the opinion of most American mandolinists, Gibson brought mandolin design to a level of perfection in 1922, with the introduction of the Master Model F-5. It wasn’t much earlier – 25 years or so – that Orville Gibson created the F model as one of two mandolin body styles (the other being the symmetrical […]

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Clapton’s Fool

History’s Greatest Guitar?
 
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Eric Clapton’s The Fool. A name immediately recognizable to guitarists, yet baffling to others. What is Clapton’s Fool? Very simply, it is one of the most important and famous electric guitars in the history of the instrument. In the hierarchy of guitars, the bottom of the pyramid’s capstone is made up of guitars that are […]

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Ampeg R-12-R Reverberocket

 
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1962 Ampeg R-12-R Reverberocket Preamp tubes: two 6SL7, two 6SN7 Output tubes: two 6V6, cathode-biased Rectifier: 5Y3 Controls: Volume, Tone, Dimension (reverb), Speed, and Intensity (tremolo) Speakers: Jensen Special Design C12R Output: approximately 18 watts RMS In the view of Ampeg main man Everett Hull, rock and roll was not a musical form to which […]

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Fender Harvard

 
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Given the current craze for semi-small “home” and “recording” amps, Fender’s 5F10 Harvard of 1955-’60 could be the ideal tweed amp, yet, in its day, it fell between two stools and never sold in large numbers. Or, make that three stools. With the Champ and Princeton in its rear-view mirror and the Deluxe and Tremolux […]

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Mosrite Basses

The Golden Decade: Ventures and Beyond
 
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Mention the Ventures to a pop-music aficionado and the conversation will likely focus on the surf-music phenomenon of the early 1960s or – if that person also happens to be instrument-savvy – the band’s affiliation with Mosrite guitars and basses. Though the partnership lasted only a half-decade, the Ventures have been perpetually associated with Mosrite, […]

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