For decades, guitarists have lovingly referred to their solidbody guitars as “planks.” In the mid ’60s, a small builder called LaBaye upped the ante by offering a guitar truly was a plank.
The La Baye 2×4 Six was a minimalist guitar offered as a cheapo, and in the ’70s found notoriety in the hands of Devo guitarist Bob Mothersbaugh (a.k.a. Bob 1). Only 45 were made, and as a result they’re now quite collectible, commanding somewhere near $2,500.
More recently, Eastwood revived the 2×4 as an affordable import with a few minor modifications.
The La Baye 2×4 Devo Signature is a simple rock-and-roll machine with a radical body shape. Available in black, red, and natural, its body is basswood with a natural bolt-on maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. Look for 22 frets and dot inlays on the board, with an overall scale of 24.75″ and a nut width of 1.625″.
The guitar makes a potent visual statement; our tester was decked out in hot red with a white pickguard and chrome hardware, much like a ’50s or early-’60s hot rod. It sported a Bigsby B-50 roller vibrato bridge, though a stop-tail version is also available (as is a four-string bass). Two Eastwood Custom High-Output P-90s with chrome covers are matched with a three-position selector and master Tone and Volume pickup controls (with top-hat knobs) mounted atop the guitar’s plank body. Gotoh vintage-style chrome tuners grace its attractive headstock.
Plugged in, the La Baye 2×4 is a fun little beast. The pickups and body material make for a snappy tone that could handle any rockin’ ideas we threw at it. The neck is very comfortable – full C shape with a vintage vibe, with a fast setup for modern playability. Of course, this Eastwood is a true stage guitar, with a visual impact just meant for live work. Conversely, the guitar is not designed to be played on the lap; even standing up you’ll have to get used to not having that upper bout on which to rest your picking arm.
In all, the La Baye 2×4 plays well and looks great. For the modern player, Eastwood has done a fine job updating the model for the rest of us. Plus, the axe arrives in a long, narrow hard case that’ll baffle your bandmates when you show up for practice.
This article originally appeared in VG November 2015 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.