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Category Archives: Classic Instruments

Custom-Order Gibson B-45-12

 
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The term “rare” is applied to guitars in far too many instances. Usually an appealing term, its overuse can be attributed in part to the fact it’s particularly catchy to the eye of anyone fond of a collectible vintage instrument. The subject here this month, however, is truly deserving of the label. A custom-order Gibson […]

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Recording King Ray Whitley

 
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As a maker of high-quality instruments, Gibson was hit hard by the onset of the Depression in the 1930s. Company president Guy Hart, a former accountant, recognized that Gibson could not survive by simply waiting for better times, and he took action, diverting some guitar production to wooden toys, creating the Kalamazoo line of budget-priced […]

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Cry, Baby!

The Story of the Vox Wah
 
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Beyond being crowned “Album of the Century” by Time magazine, Marley and the Wailers’ 1977 LP Exodus is a wah-wah masterpiece thanks to Junior Marvin and his Thomas Organ Cry Baby. Others – from Earl Hooker to Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa to Sly Stone – made their mark with the pedal, but never has (more…)

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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, (more…)

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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 (more…)

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Late 1920s Gibson L-1 (Flattop)

Gibson "Florentine"
 
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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
 
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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 (more…)

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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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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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