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Category Archives: Classic Instruments

Gibson Kalamazoo Award

Designer's Dream Come True
 

In 1978, Gibson craftsman Wilbur Fuller produced the company’s first hand-carved, tuned-by-ear custom guitar. The instrument, which in a blind sound-off with some of the best instruments of its era, won the hearts of Gibson brass, ultimately became the Kalamazoo Award. Gruhn’s Guide to Vintage Guitars tells us that the Kalamazoo Award was a (more…)

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Kay Jazz Special and Value Leader

 
Kay Jazz Special

Kay entered the electric bass market in the mid 1950s with the K162, which later morphed into the similar K5965 (VG, March 2011), and while each met with a modicum of success, in 1960, the Chicago-based instrument maker introduced two near-polar-opposite four-strings. The epitome of the aesthetic excess for which Kay’s electric basses became known, […]

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Fender 5E7 Bandmaster

 
FENDER BANDMASTER 5E7

• Preamp tubes: one 12AY7, two 12AX7 • Output tubes: two 6L6s, fixed biased • Rectifier: 5U4G tube • Controls: Volume, Volume, Treble, Bass, Presence • Output: 28 watts RMS +/- • Speaker: three 10″ Jensen P10R Two decades ago, when renewed appreciation of Fender’s narrow-panel tweed amps of the late ’50s really started to […]

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1934 Gibson F-7

 
GIBSON F-7 1934

Prior to Gibson’s innovations, mandolins were bowl-back instruments with a lute-like back usually constructed with rosewood or maple back ribs and a bent spruce top with an oval sound hole. Earlier guitars typically had flat tops and backs, and were designed for gut strings. In 1898, he received a patent for the concept of (more…)

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The Rickenbacker 4000

 
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The model 4000 was not only Rickenbacker’s first foray into the electric-bass market, it was decidedly different from Fender’s Precision – the original electric bass. Beyond frets, four strings, and their role in a musical combo, they have little in common. In the 1950s, F.C. Hall forged Rickenbacker into a modern guitar manufacturer. Striving to […]

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Watkins Rapier 33

 
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If you were an American teenager in the late 1950s or early ’60s, and you wanted to play the new rock music, you likely did not have a solidbody electric guitar from Fender, Gibson, or Rickenbacker. More likely the guitar would be from Harmony, Kay, or Supro. If you lived in the U.K., you probably […]

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Fender Competition Mustang

 
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Little Deuce Coupe. T-birds. Cars and the California lifestyle are inextricably intertwined… and of course, guitars figure in, too – just flash back to those mid-’60s Fender ads showing surfers and guitars on the beach. So it should come as no surprise that Fender would market a guitar – entry-level, of course – to potential […]

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Fender Precision Bass

The “Final” Configuration
 
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The Fender Precision Bass was the first commercially successful solidbody electric bass. Played somewhat like a guitar and sporting a fretted neck, the “P-Bass” won over players in almost every genre who previously had to contend with the cumbersome upright bass. In its original configuration, the instrument, introduced in 1952, had a maple neck with […]

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Traynor YBA-2 Bass Mate

 
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Canadian amp maker Traynor gets a lot of respect in some circles for turning out solid, good-sounding tube amps that are built with quality components and, in many cases, can easily be modified toward a sonic condition more substantial than when they left the factory. It’s also frequently noted that they “blend British and American […]

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Gibson’s Depression-Era Exports

 
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Many aren’t aware that some of the archtop guitars Gibson produced during the Depression were marketed under different brand names, including Kalamazoo, Recording King, Cromwell, Fascinator, and Kel Kroyden, among others. These shared similar features and construction techniques with the low-line Gibson-branded instruments such as the L-30 and L-50: a spruce top, mahogany body and […]

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