Guitar-manufacturing innovator Charles “Chip” Todd died in Friendswood, Texas, on February 14. He was 83.
A native of Beaumont, Todd played violin as a kid, then later learned guitar and bass.
A mechanical genius with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Fine Arts, Todd was running a guitar-repair shop in the mid ’70s when he was recruited by Peavey sales rep Don Belfield to work for the company’s new guitar-manufacturing division in Meridian, Mississippi. He moved in June of ’75, and recalled that for a year he was the only employee of the company’s guitar division, where he and owner Harley Peavey spent hours developing what would be the first guitars and basses manufactured using computer-guided machines to carve bodies and necks. Todd then became primary designer of Peavey’s T-60 guitar and T-40 bass; the 1977 prototypes sported his initials on their headstocks.
Todd helped develop other instruments before leaving Peavey in ’81 to work at Fender, where he stayed for three years. He held several patents and for decades used his engineering skills to develop and build instruments with other companies.
This article originally appeared in VG’s May 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.