December 2017

December 2017

Find what’s in this issue, enter the latest exclusive VG giveaways and contests, or learn the 3 ways to get your Vintage Guitar fix! Don’t forget to check out VG Classifieds and the playlist for this issue of VG on Youtube.

Table of Contents

December 2017 VOL. 32 NO. 02
We visit the Fender Custom Shop on its 30th birthday, talking to the masterminds there at the start as well as those who continue to make dreams come true. We include the stories of the “Marilyn Monroe” Strat and the Stevens LJ. Then, we interview rock legend Todd Rundgren, who discusses his career, guitars, and why certain accolades just don’t mean much. Our renowned profiles include the Matchless JJ-30 and the Framus Golden Television. George Gruhn discusses the changing landscape of guitar research, Wolf Marshall breaks down the licks of Billy Butler, and Peter Kohman reminds us that certain classic instruments, like the ’50s Les Paul Standard and Martin OM, were market failures when new. We also interview Jim Peterik, Jonny Lang, Tom Feldmann, Jonny Lang, Philip Sayce, and curator Darcy Kuronen from the Museum of Fine Arts on its 100th birthday, then remember Walter Becker, John Abercrombie, Sonny Burgess, and Charlie Prichard.  All this, along with our top-notch “VG Approved Gear” reviews, peerless “Hit List” music reviews, and much more are in the December issue, available now!


32 Ain’t Nothin’ But A…
The Framus Golden Television 5/119
With an eye on Fender, in 1963, Framus debuted its solidbody line including the Television. Striving to stay ahead in the rush of the “guitar boom,” the following year’s 5/119 Golden Television upped the ante. | By Michael Wright

36 Stage Staunch
The Matchless JJ-30
Rare and sought-after in part because only about 40 were built, this is the only Signature Series amp ever made by the company while it was guided by co-founder/designer Mark Sampson. | By Dave Hunter

42 Vintage-Instrument Research
An Ever-Changing Landscape
Instruments can be examined much the same way scientists approach animal taxonomy or a forensic pathologist would investigate a murder. Conclusions are constantly changing, adapting, and hopefully always getting closer to the truth. | By George Gruhn and Staff

92 Todd Rundgren
Rock’s True Renaissance Man
From forming the Nazz in 1967 to stints with Utopia and a successful solo career, his accomplishments as a multi-instrumentalist, singer, composer, engineer, and record producer are rarely equaled by even his most-distinguished contemporaries. | By Elliot Stephen Cohen

98 Dream Makers
The Fender Custom Shop Marks 30 Years
Though founded in 1987, its story actually begins the day CBS announced the sale of Fender; new leadership wanted the company to regain its reputation of innovation, quality, and value. We speak with key players in the resurgence, plus profile two instruments that embody the spirt, soul, and purpose of the Custom Shop. | By Vaughn Skow

first fret

14 Reader Mail

18 News and Notes
Woodstock Showcase charity raffle; Artists rally for hurricane benefit; In Memoriam

18 Jim Peterik
Collection Reflection

22 Ask Zac

22 Jonny Lang
Signs of the Blues

24 Tom Feldmann
Delta Blues DeLuxe

26 Sonny Burgess

27 Philip Sayce
Scorched-Earth Tones

28 Playable Exhibits
100 Years of Boston’s MFA

30 John Abercrombie

31 Tracii Guns
Peaces Old and New


48 Vintage Guitar Price Guide

86 The VG Readers’ Choice Giveaway
Vote for a chance to win a Supro guitar and amp worth $4,379!

108 Upcoming Events

122 Vintage Guitar Classified Ads

135 Builder Showcase

139 Dealer Showcase

144 Readers Gallery


52 The (Way) Back Beat
The Fickle Finger of Fate | By Peter S. Kohman

62 Fretprints
Billy Butler | By Wolf Marshall

72 Acousticville
Friend or Foe: Guitar Shows vs. Guitar Shops | By Steven Stone

76 Dan’s Guitar Rx
It Takes Two: Easy-To-Convert Nuts | By Dan Erlewine

82 Shop of Hard Knocks
Misfit Refrain: Five Easy DIY Tools | By Will Kelly


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114 The VG Hit List
Steve Vai, Neil Young, Elvis Presley: A Boy From Tupelo, Tom Feldmann, Jethro Tull, Sky Music: A Tribute to Terje Rypdal, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Riverdogs, more!

115 Check This Action
Evan Johns: Force of Nature | By Dan Forte

126 VG Approved Gear
Marchione 16″ Archtop, Magnatone Varsity Reverb, Fender Brad Paisley Road Worn Tele, Boss Katana 100, Daddy Mojo Ozark, Positive Grid Bias, EHX Synth9, GluBoost, Gretsch G2420T Streamliner, Carl Martin Roadie Bandmate 15

127 Gearin’ Up!
The latest cool new stuff!


Reader Mail
Send letters to or mail to: Vintage Guitar, Inc. Attn: Reader Mail, PO Box 7301, Bismarck ND 58507.

Readers Gallery
Check out the current issue Readers Gallery or VG’s Online Readers Gallery

Send your photos to: or mail to: Vintage Guitar, Inc. Attn: Readers Gallery, P.O. Box 7301, Bismarck, ND 58507.

Readers submit photos with the understanding that they may be used in any VG, Inc. project. Due to the volume of photos we receive, we are unable to return them, please do not send us your only print.


Enter your 2017 Vintage Guitar Readers’ Choice Awards vote for a chance to win a Supro guitar/amp prize package valued at $4,379! Deadline: November 20, 2017.
The VG Super Pickup Giveaway – Win Big! 17 Sets! 17 Winners! Enter Giveaway


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