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Category Archives: Classic Instruments

Rickenbacker Transonic

 
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Rickenbacker Transonic TS100 Topology: Solid State Output: 100 watts RMS Controls: Volume, Treble, Bass controls and Hollow, Mellow and Pierce switches on each channel; Tremolo Speed and Depth, Reverb, and Fuzz-Tortion on Custom channel. Speakers: two 12″ Altec 417.

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La Baye 2X4

 
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1967, the Summer of Love. Everything still seemed possible, and anything went. No more war, racial and gender equality, Fresh Cream, the Beatles best record ever, the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Phew! What a difference the next (more…)

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Vox AC50

 
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Vox AC50 Preamp tubes: one ECC82 (12AU7), three ECC83 (12AX7) Output tubes: two EL34s, fixed-biased Rectifier: solidstate Controls: Volume, Treble and Bass for each channel. Output: nominally 50 watts RMS, but upward of 70 watts flat-out. Where the evolution of guitar amplification in general traces musicians’ needs to be louder, the history of Vox follows, […]

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Gretsch 6120 Tenor

Elvis Costello’s Gretsch 6120 Tenor
 
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This 1958 Gretsch Chet Atkins 6120 four-string tenor guitar is a very rare variation of the model. Gretsch built other tenors, including the Duo Jet, archtop acoustic, and archtop electric tenors of various other models. Gretsch was not alone in making tenors. Martin, Gibson, and Epiphone all produced tenor versions of many of their standard […]

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Gibson’s 17″ Pre-War Electrics

ES-300 of 1940-’43
 
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Among musicians and collectors, Gibson’s pre-World-War-II ES-300 may be less popular today than the ES-250, but in terms of sheer numbers, it was Gibson’s most popular 17″ pre-war electric, despite the adverse context of the early 1940s. Truth is, most of the more-prominent guitarists of the period continued to favor installing an old-style bar pickup […]

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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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