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Category Archives: Classic Instruments

Excelsior Americana

 
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If you play any breed of twang, country, roots-rock or, well, “Americana,” could there possibly be a better amp than this? Okay, according to specs and tonal preferences, sure there could. But for sheer vintage-hip and all-out cool, you really can’t do better than dragging this 1966 Excelsior Americana to the next Gram Parsons tribute […]

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Horses of Another Color

 
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1) This ’57, from batch 253xx, has the added intrigue of a gold G-cutout tailpiece in place of the Bigsby vibrato. In addition to the standard Amber Red stain on the 6120, the Bigsby was requisite on the Atkins-endorsed models. Having a 6120 that lacks both the finish and the vibrato seem to constitute heresy! […]

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The Yosco No. 2

Tenor Banjo
 
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The banjo and American music cross paths in a remarkably entangled web of complexity. The banjo was brought to the New World – conceptually, at least – by African slaves who used it to create music subsequently appropriated by 19th-century white entertainers, who created blackface minstrelsy, which became the basis of Vaudeville and a great […]

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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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Basses from Bakersfield

 
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The history of guitar manufacturing in the Bakersfield area of California includes names like Mosrite, Hallmark, and Standel. One of the most unusual (and rare) was the Gruggett Stradette. Guitar builder and company founder Bill Gruggett had affiliations with Mosrite and Hallmark before setting out on his own in 1967. He designed the Stradette to […]

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Peavey RJ-IV

 
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Peavey RJ-IV bass, serial number 04938996. Photo: Bill Ingalls Jr. Instrument courtesy of Naffaz Skota. Americans by the millions “know” Randy Jackson. But not many realize that his gig as one of three judges on TV’s “American Idol” is just the tip of the iceberg in his long musical career. The veteran bassist has played […]

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Gibson Tal Farlow

 
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The Tal Farlow is one guitar in a quartet of full-depth Gibson Artists models first cataloged in the early 1960s. Introduced in ’62, it was based on the ES-350 – the guitar Farlow used with Red Norvo and his own trio in the mid ’50s. A truly professional instrument, built in the tradition of ’50s Gibson […]

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The Vox Saturn IV

 
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In the mid 1960s, England’s Vox company was in the right place at the right time. Buoyed by frontline British Invasion endorsers such as the Beatles and American bands such as Paul Revere & the Raiders, the instrument/amplifier maker signed deals with almost every popular band. Even one-hit-wonders such as Music Machine (“Talk Talk”) brandished […]

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Fender Deluxe Reverb

Vintage Guitar magazine Hall of Fame 2011 Instrument
 
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In the June ’07 issue of VG, amp profiler extraordinaire Dave Hunter said of the Fender Deluxe Reverb, “If guitarists were to vote for the one ‘best amp for all occasions,’ [it] would very likely earn a majority decision’.” And while this year’s nominees in the VG Hall of Fame “Instrument” category pitted the “DR” […]

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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 couldn’t remember the words of the song or hear the […]

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