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Category Archives: Classic Instruments

Bruce and Butter

 
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It would be an understatement to say that REO Speedwagon bassist Bruce Hall and his 1965 Fender Jazz Bass, dubbed “Butter,” have been through a lot. Born and raised in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, Hall, who has been with the band for more than 30 years, acquired this mainstay when he was 16. In an ironic twist, […]

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Star Board: Tom Guerra

 
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Guitarist/singer/songwriter (and VG contributor) Tom Guerra recently released his first solo album, All of the Above, which reviewer Pete Prown says is “hook-laden rock and roll originals that pay homage to everyone from the Beatles to the Byrds, and from Led Zeppelin to Mott the Hoople.” Tom is a fan of vintage gear, too, and […]

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Gibson SG Les Paul

Classic shape that filled big shoes... for awhile
 
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In 1961, Gibson replaced its Les Paul series with a new line of lightweight, ultrathin, all mahogany, double-cutaway solidbodies the SG (for solid guitar). Developed under the aegis of Ted McCarty and introduced as the “new Les Paul,” the SG heralded new directions and a new marketing emphasis for Gibson; trends exemplified only two years […]

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Carvin DN640K

 
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Doubleneck instruments have always been a unique niche in the guitar market, for good reason. They’ve also carried an air of superiority or the insinuation that they were intended for pro players; i.e., those who could deftly switch from one instrument to another in the middle of a song without doffing their part. And though […]

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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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