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Category Archives: Classic Instruments

’68 Truetone by Kay/Valco

 
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The year 1968 was not a good one for American manu­facturers of stringed instruments. M.C.A. closed the original Danelectro, and what was left of Kay and Valco was locked in a tailspin. Valco bought the remnants of Kay in ’67, and attempted to combine the brand with their own products, but to no (more…)

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1933 Gibson L-5 “Special”

 
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Though many collectors focus on instruments in fine original condition, every so often one emerges that, regardless of condition, is no less exciting than a paleontologist finding the “missing link.” Everything there is to know about the Gibson L-5 designed by Carl Kress can be learned from this example, with the model designation “Special” hand-written […]

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Three Larsons

 
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At first glance, these three guitars appear to be a straightforward collection of different sizes of the same model. A comparable set of three Martins would be a 0-40, 00-40 and 000-40. However, these are Larson Brothers guitars, and when it comes to Larson models, nothing is that simple. Aesthetically, these guitars are identical (more…)

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DeArmond Tremolo Control

 
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Even now – four decades on – Billy F Gibbons remembers the first time he heard a DeArmond Tremolo Control work its peculiar magic. “We first heard the effect not knowing what it was,” he says, speaking in the royal plural and summoning up recordings including Muddy Waters’ (more…)

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Cole Eclipse Pro Special

 
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Straight-from-the-catalog instruments are fun – and reassuring – because you know exactly what you’ve got. But there’s another kind of thrill – and satisfaction – when you find something that’s totally off the radar, something that presents a mystery to be solved, like this circa 1913 Cole’s Eclipse banjo, which sports a Washburn headstock and […]

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Orville Gibson A model

 
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All carved-top guitars and mandolins trace their ancestry back to Orville Gibson of Kalamazoo, Michigan. However, as this A model mandolin illustrates, Orville’s designs went through considerable refinement through the early years of the Gibson company’s existence to reach the standard of design that we know today. The highlights of Orville’s life are well-known: Born […]

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Gizmotron

Most Bizarre Guitar Effect of All Time?
 

Led Zeppelin’s final studio album, 1979’s In Through The Out Door, opens with an eerie, otherworldly drone that weaves and winds its way before segueing into the searing Stratocaster riffs of “In The Evening.” In the past, Jimmy Page played his Les Paul with a violin bow and waved his hands like a wizard over […]

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Gibson GA-200 Rhythm King

 
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Preamp tubes: two 12AX7, one 12AY7, two 6BJ8, two 6SK7, one 6V6 (used as a voltage divider) Output tubes: two 6550 Rectifier: GZ34 Controls: Ch1: Volume, Treble, Bass; Ch2: Volume, Treble, Bass, Compressor Speakers: two 12" Norelco/Phillips twin-cone speakers Output: (more…)

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1944 Martin 00-28

 
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This Martin 00-28 is a highly unusual instrument. Made as part of a group of six created with shop-order number 366 (dated 12/14/1944) and bearing serial numbers 90002 through 90007, they were entered on the Martin shop order slip as 00-28G, indicating they were classical guitars designed strictly for gut strings. There is no indication […]

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The D’Angelico Excel Mandolin

 
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The 1,164 archtop guitars made by John D’Angelico have brought him great renown as the finest individual archtop guitar builder in the history of the instrument. His mandolins, however, are seldom talked about, even though – if this particular example from the early 1940s is any indication – they are worthy of the same attention. […]

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