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Category Archives: Classic Instruments

Gibson GA-80T Vari-Tone

 
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In the late ’50s and early ’60s, Gibson was apparently convinced the Vari-Tone switch was the way of the future, with its instant access to six different tones. But a high proportion of players who clocked serious miles on their ES-345 and 355 guitars had the switches disabled (and the guitars rewired to mono!). As […]

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Vox Guitars Invade America

From Dartford to Sepulveda
 

The Vox brand may be quintessentially English, but it made a huge impact in the U.S. Riding in with the 1964 British invasion, Vox even displaced Fender for a time as the land’s most desired amplifier. Vox guitars lacked the same impact (the Beatles didn’t play them, (more…)

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Heil Talk Box

 
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When Peter Frampton began using the Heil Talk Box in 1974, he remembers it being viewed with skepticism as an “alien effect.” Similar contraptions had been around since 1939, but few people recognized them or their otherworldly capabilities. Frampton had yet to record with it, so when he used it onstage, it caused a furor. […]

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Gibson Style J Mando-bass

 
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Decades before Audiovox or Leo Fender dreamed of making a fretted electric bass, Gibson started manufacturing fretted acoustic mando-basses that were tuned the same as an upright bass. Joe Spann, author of Spann’s Guide to Gibson 1902-1941 has assembled serial and work-order number information documenting Gibson’s production prior to World War II, which indicates mando-bass […]

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Custom Kraft Red Fury

 
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Most guitar aficionados are comfortable with the notion of guitar brands being made by the company of the same name. But when it comes to guitars made by one company and sold by another, we frequently stray out of our comfort zone. Yet, some of the most significant players in American guitar history never actually […]

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Gibson Firebirds

 
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Say the words “custom color” to a collector or enthusiast and most will think of “Fender.” But Gibson had its own multicolored baby – the Firebird. Born in 1963 and put to rest in ’69, the Firebird was Gibson’s third full-line attempt at the solidbody market. While it did not do as well as the […]

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Martin 00-18

 
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They were days, before Kent State, when everywhere you looked, kids sat under trees, singin’ songs and swappin’ licks. Fresh-faced young girls with names like “Star” painted flowers on their cheeks and drifted between you and the sun wearing diaphanous tie-dye gauze dresses. For a moment, you (more…)

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Holy Cripes

Holy Cripes! The Story of Jerry Garcia’s Last Guitars
 
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Steve Cripe left a unique legacy in the annals of music history. He was not a guitar player, not a songwriter. In fact, you may not even know his name. But the guitar builder became part of the fabric that makes up the story of the Grateful Dead when he built guitars for the legendary […]

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The Beatles’ Casinos

 
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Of all the guitars the Beatles made famous, the only one that John, Paul and George had in common was the Epiphone Casino. Each owned a Casino and used it for countless recordings and performances. Paul McCartney was the first Beatle to acquire a (more…)

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Gibson Super Jumbo 100

 

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The Super Jumbo 200 is Gibson’s most celebrated flat-top model, and deservedly so, thanks to its use by cowboy movie stars in the pre-World War II years and by country music stars in the post-war years. The Super Jumbo 100, on the other hand, is one of Gibson’s more obscure models – a status it […]

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