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Category Archives: Classic Instruments

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"
 
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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Beyond the Parlor

Part Two: Man and Machine
 
Beyond the Parlor Part Two: Man and Machine

Ed. Note: In the second of three parts in his series (Part One: The Guitar in Non-Anglo America) on the guitar in 19-century America, Tim Brookes continues his assault on the common belief that the guitar was strictly a ladies’ parlor instrument by finding guitars being made – and played – by men. (more…)

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The Martin 0-42

 
Martin 0-42

Through the years, Martin’s dreadnought, OM, and 000 guitars may have gained the most notoriety. But for the sweetest and best-quality sound, Martin itself recommends the size 0, exemplified by this 0-42. There’s obviously a catch to that statement, since only two of Martin’s current offering of over 200 models are size-0 guitars. The recommendation […]

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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 (more…)

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The Gibson J-185

 
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The J-185 is regarded by many players and collectors as the finest-sounding Gibson flat-top made after World War II. The only flat-top of its size and shape made by Gibson in the 1950s, the company offered nothing comparable even in its pre-war catalogs, and though it is in many ways similar to the J-200, it’s […]

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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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