General Interest

The Fender Musicmaster and Duo-Sonic

The Unique Guitar Blog - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 05:40
1951 Fender Esquire
Fender introduced their solid body electric guitar, the Esquire, as early as 1950. This "Spanish-style" electric guitar was made in the style of Leo Fender’s lap steel guitars, with a single slanted pickup placed right next to the bridge and saddles.

'50 Broadcaster
In the fall of that year Fender added an additional pickup and called that guitar the Broadcaster, which didn’t last long as Gretsch had trademarked that name for their drum sets. So the word "Broadcaster" was cut off of subsequent headstock decals.

1951 Fender Telecaster
By the summer of 1951 the guitar was renamed the Telecaster.



1954 Fender Stratocaster

Moving forward to 1954, Fender introduced the Stratocaster. The introduction of this guitar coincided with the year Elvis Presley became popular, which caused an increased interest in the guitar.


By 1956 Leo Fender thought it might be a good idea to introduce a student model to the Fender line up, which would have a shorter scale for small hands and also had a reduced price point.

1956 Fender Musicmaster and Duo-Sonic Guitars
The 3/4 sized Fender Musicmaster and Duo-Sonic guitar guitars were both offered in the spring of 1956. Both guitars featured a 22 1/2” scale bolt on, soft V style maple neck with a maple fret board. The tuning machines came with less costly plastic buttons instead of metal ones found on the strat and tele. The guitars double cutaway slab body was made of either an ash or alder and featured shorter horns than those on a Stratocaster. Both instruments came with a single volume and tone control.

1956 Fender Musicmaster



The Musicmaster featured just one single-coil slanted pickup in the neck position.







'56 Duo-Sonic



The Duo-Sonic added an additional pickup, without a slant, in the bridge position and a 3-way selector switch on the lower horn. The middle position on the Duo-Sonic placed the single coil pickups in series, thus acting like a humbucking pickup.





Bridge for 1956 Duo-Sonic


Both guitars had adjustable bridges which had 3 sections, much like the older Telecaster bridges, with each section doing duty for two strings. This bridge was fastened directly to the body and it came with a bridge cover, which generally was taken off the guitar.



1956 Duo-Sonic

The initial models of each instrument came with an anodized aluminum pickguard done in a gold colour. This provided shielding. The serial number was stamped on the chrome neck plate.

The original run of these guitars came in only one color that Fender called Desert Sand. The suggested retail price at the time for the Duo-Sonic was $149.50.

1959 Musicmaster


This model went unchanged until later in 1959 when a rosewood slab fret board was added to the maple neck. Within a year Fender changed this to the veneer style rosewood fret board. The anodized aluminum pickguard was changed to a plastic one with shielding under the potentiometers.





1959 Musicmaster



1959 was also the year that the Musicmaster and Duo-Sonic came in Sunburst which replaced Desert Sand.







1963 Musicmaster



In 1963 the sunburst finish was discontinued and the guitars were available in white with brown plastic pick guards.







1966 Fender Duo-Sonic II


Big changes occurred in late 1964 when the Duo-Sonic and Musicmaster were redesigned. That year the guitars were renamed the Duo-Sonic II and the Musicmaster II.


1964 Fender Duo-Sonic II
Fender had released the Mustang in that same year and this guita featured a larger offset body. The headstock on the Mustang was larger. These features were added to the Duro-Sonic, which became essentially a Mustang without the vibrato. The 3-way switch was also gone, and replaced with two 3 position slider switches, similar to those on the Mustang.

1965 Fender Duo-sonic II
Both pickups were slanted and available with red pearl or white covers. The pickguard was now a 3 ply style and offered in white or red pearloid material. Just like the Mustang, the volume and tone controls and the jack were mounted on a separate metal plate.

1964 Musicmaster II

Similar treatment was done to the Musicmaster, but it had no slider switches.

The bridge/saddle on both guitars were redesigned to have a raised lip on the end to attach the strings. The neck was still available with the 22 1/2” scale, but the guitars were also offered the same 24” scale neck found on the Mustang.




1964 Musicmaster II and Duo-Sonic II

Both guitars were available in Dakota red, white, or Daphne blue finishes.

The Duo-Sonic II lasted until 1969, when Fender determined that the popularity of Mustang sales did not warrant maintaining the “hard-tailed” Duo-Sonic.


1971 Musicmaster



However the single pickup Musicmaster was still kept in the line up.  However the designation Musicmaster II was dropped in favor of just Musicmaster. The Musicmaster was offered by Fender through 1982.





'93 Duo-Sonic

In 1993 Fender decided to reissue the Duo-Sonic. This time it was made in Mexico. The scale was still short, however this time it was 22.7” instead the of 22.5’ length. The neck was now back to maple with a maple fretboard. The twin slider switches were replaced with the 3-way toggle selector on the guitars upper horn. The bridge still had the raised lip. These models were available in black, Torino red and Arctic white. These guitar remained in the line up through 1997. The pickguard was made of one piece of plastic, with no chrome control panel.



1998 Squier Affinity Duo-Sonic
In 1998 the Duo-Sonic was produced as a Chinese made Squier Affinity model. The biggest changes on this version was the the pickups, which looked more like strat pickups with the pole pieces showing. The two knobs were plastic strat-style versions instead of Mustang or Tele style knobs. This guitar was dropped from the line up in 1999.



2008 Squier Classic Vibe Duo Sonic
In 2008 the Duo-Sonic resurfaced under the company’s Squier brand as part of their Classic Vibe series. This time the guitar attempted to be a recreation of the 1956 version, including the Desert Sand finish, the gold anodized pickguard and the maple neck/maple fret board.

There were a few changes. The body was made of basswood and the neck was a 24” scale with a C-shape. The frets were updated to medium jumbo ones and the bridge pickup was moved 3/4’s of an inch further from the bridge compared to the original. This model was discontinued in 2011.

2016 Fender Duo-Sonics



In 2016 Fender offered two updated versions of the Duo-Sonic under the Fender brand name. Both guitars came with 24” scale necks.






2016 MN


The Duo-Sonic MN featured 2 single coil pickups with a slanted neck pickup and a bridge pickup that was parallel to the bridge/saddle. This guitar appears to be fairly close to the original model, but for the scale and the six-section adjustable bridge with the strings going through the body and anchored in the back of the guitar.





2016 HS


The other model was the Duo-Sonic HS, which featured a single coil slanted pickup in the neck position and a humbucking pickup in the bridge position that featured coil tapping. The bodies are made of alder wood, while the necks are maple and offered with either a maple or rosewood fretboard. Both instruments are manufactured in Mexico and remain in the Fender line up at present.




Bronco Set

A close cousin to the Musicmaster and Duo-Sonic was the Fender Bronco. This was another student guitar that was initially sold as a student package along with the Fender Bronco amp, which was actually a very nice Fender silverface Vibro-Champ amplifier. The only difference in the amplifiers was the colour of the logo. This amplifier came with red lettering that stated Bronco, instead of blue lettering stating Vibro-Champ.



1967 Fender Bronco
The Bronco guitar was introduced in 1967. The guitars body was the same as the Mustang and Duo-Sonic of that era. The C-shaped neck had a scale of 24” and included a large headstock, similar to the one on the Mustang.

The fretboard was of the Fender laminated rosewood variety with dot position markers. Like the Musicmaster, the Fender Bronco has only one pickup, but it was placed In the bridge position. This was a slanted single coil pickup with no exposed pole pieces.

1967 Fender Bronco amplifier
The 3 ply pickguard was was white or black plastic and included a section for the volume and tone controls and jack. The Bronco came with an unusual vibrato system that Fender never used on any other guitars.

The Bronco stayed in the Fender line up until 1981. It was then replaced by the Fender Bullet 1.

1981 Fender Bullet 1
The Fender Bullet 1 was another unique Fender instrument marketed to students or players looking for a low cost Fender guitar.

This first version of the Bullet included an anodized pickguard with controls for tone and volume.. The distal end of the metal pickguard had a lip that held the six adjustable bridge saddles.

The guitars body had a shape more like a Telecaster than a Mustang. The twin single coil pickups were done in the same manner as the original Duo-Sonic; the neck pickup slanted downward and the bridge pickup was parallel to the bridge saddles. The bolt-on maple neck was topped with a laminated rosewood fretboard and a Telecaster style headstock. The 3 position blade switch was very similar to the one used on early Stratocasters.

'81 Bullet Deluxe


Later models, known as the Fender Bullet Deluxe, were produced with a plastic pickguard and a metal plate that housed the bridge/saddle unit. By 1982 the Bullet was redesigned and this version bore no similarity to the Duo-Sonic.

Fender Swinger





One other very interesting Fender student guitar worth mentioning;The Fender Swinger.






Babe Simoni
Vigiliio “Babe” Simoni was hired at Fender when he was a 16 year old kid. He rose up the ranks and became the product manager. Simoni stayed on with Fender after CBS purchased the company.

Swinger body routed for Bass V pickups

The new bosses gave him instructions to find something profitable to do with leftover parts. Simoni was not a designer, but he was skilled in shaping bodies, necks and routing.

He came up with two very unique guitars and one of them was the Fender Swinger, which was fashioned from leftover Musicmaster, short-scale necks, and Fender Bass V bodies.

Fender Swinger
Babe had workers saw a curve section into the bottom end of the body and then the sawed off a portion of the upper horn. He also had them cut the end of the headstock on the the 22 1/2” Musicmaster necks into a sharp point.

These guitars  utilized left over 1969 pick guards that had been cut out to allow space for the metal control panel. This guitar came with a single slanted neck pickup. The 3 section bridge/saddles were the same ones used on Musicmasters and Duo-Sonics that were made during the 1964-1969 era.

1969 Fender Swinger
Swinger bodies were offered in various colours, including Olympic White, Daphne Blue, Dakota Red, Black, Lake Placid Blue, and Candy Apple Red.

Logos on the Headstock


The tuning keys had white plastic buttons and the Fender logo decal (in black font) was put on the headstock. On some models to the right of this was “Swinger” in a similar black script. Most models deleted the guitars name.





Back of the Swinger body



Though the Swinger was an inexpensive 3/4 sized guitar at the time it was offered to the public, its scarcity has made this guitar very collectible and commanding thousands in today’s vintage market. 





Another variant of the Duo-Sonic and Musicmaster guitar was the Fender Musicmaster bass guitar.

1966 Fender Mustang Bass
Fender had launched the Mustang guitar in 1964. Two years later Fender produced the Mustang Bass. This was a short scale bass with a 30" neck, split single coil pickups, somewhat like the ones on a Precision Bass, but with rounded corners, and a body just like the one on the Fender Mustang guitar.

This bass came with a plastic pickguard and a metal control section similar to the one on the Mustang guitar. The bridge/saddle section consisted of a chrome plate with a raised lip at its end and 4 adjustable saddles.


1971 Musicmaster Bass
In 1971 Fender introduced a budget version of this bass and called it the Musicmaster bass. The body was similar. This instrument was made of surplus parts of other guitars.

The controls and pickup were mounted on the plastic pickguard, which was much smaller than the one on the Mustang bass. The bridge/saddle was different from the Mustang bass.



The strings attached to the lip of a chrome plate and passed over two adjustable sections, much like the saddles found on a Telecaster.

1972 Musicmaster Bass


This bass had one single coil pickup with a cover that did not expose the pole pieces. If you removed it, then you would find six pole pieces, as it was actually a Stratocaster pickup. This led to a common criticism that the Musicmaster bass sounded thinner than other bass guitars.




1971 Fender Musicmaster Bass

Most Musicmaster bass guitars came with a white or black pickguard, while some had a pearl design. The 30” scale maple neck was capped with a rosewood fretboard. The headstock was smaller than the Mustang bass. The tuning keys were triangular.

Original models came in black, red, or white. Later models were available in other Fender finish options.

The Fender Musicmaster bass was in the line up until 1981. It was reintroduced as the Squier Musicmaster bass in 1997.

1997 Squier Musicmaster Bass
There were several differences in this model, aside from being made off shore.  This version had four exposed pole pieces. The bridge was still mounted on a screw in chrome plate, but it had four adjustable saddles instead of just two.

The control knobs on the Fender Musicmaster bass were made of plastic, while the Squier version had metallic knobs.

Squier Bronco Bass


The Squier Musicmaster bass was produced for less than a year, when Fender introduced the Squier Bronco bass. This was a simlar bass, but utilized a covered pickup that had 4 pole pieces. The bridge/saddle reverted back to the two section type.




2002 Fender Mustang Bass MIJ

The Fender or Squier Musicmaster bass never resurfaced. The Fender Mustang bass was reissued in 2002. It remains in the Fender line up.



Squier Bronco
The Squier Bronco Bass is now part of the Squier Affinity series.

Unfortunately, the vintage Fender Musicmaster bass, though no longer available, is one of the least collectible Fender instruments.

The links under the pictures will take you to their source. The links in the text will take you to more interesting information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)






Categories: General Interest

Inspiration for the Day

Guitar Gear - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 08:59
“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” ~ Jack London I was watching a documentary on the great Raiders quarterback, Ken “Snake” Stabler. In one segment, the narrator mentioned that Stabler was well-read, and an […]
Categories: General Interest

Pedals You Never Get Tired Of…

Guitar Gear - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 07:51
For me, it’s overdrive pedals. Transparent, amp-in-a-box, tone-coloring, you name it, I love it. To me, overdrive pedals are a lot like guitars. They all have their own unique sounds. And like guitars, when your wife or significant other asks you how many overdrive pedals do you need, for me, the answer is always: Just one […]
Categories: General Interest

Seymour Duncan Releases Mark Holcomb Alpha & Omega Signature Pickups

I Heart Guitar - Wed, 03/01/2017 - 14:59

 

IMG_0210

SANTA BARBARA, CA March 1, 2017 – Seymour Duncan, a leading manufacturer of pickups and pedals, announces the over-the-counter release of Periphery guitarist Mark Holcomb’s Alpha and Omega pickups in 6, 7 and 8-string versions.

“The Alpha/Omega set has been the heartbeat of my sound for the past several years,” Mark Holcomb says. “Since we developed and released the first 6-string set in the custom shop, I’ve had the same pickup set in every one of my 6, 7 and 8-string guitars, live and in the studio. It has remained one of the few components of my rig and setup that I haven’t even thought about tweaking.”

“The Omega bridge pickup came out super cool,” Holcomb continues. “It’s very, very aggressive and snarling, with that percussive quality that I like in the low mids. My style is based on really big chords with a lot of voicings, and I didn’t want to sacrifice any of that in the bridge pickup. And the Alpha neck pickup has lots of pick attack – probably the most pick attack of any neck pickup I’ve ever played. But it’s still very fat and glassy.”

“The 6-string Custom Shop release of this pickup was very popular and we heard a lot from Mark and Mark’s fans who said they wanted extended range versions of that same pickup and the ability to buy it over the counter,” says Seymour Duncan SVP of Products & CRO Max Gutnik. “We’re excited to make them available to more players, with more variety.”

Available as a set, or individual neck or bridge pickups.
6, 7 or 8-string options.
Trembucker option is available for 6-string.

Seymour Duncan Mark Holcomb Alpha/Omega pickups are made in the USA and will be available on March 1, 2017.

About Seymour Duncan

Seymour Duncan celebrates a rich history as the world’s leading pickup and pedal manufacturer. Since 1976, Seymour Duncan has helped the world’s artists develop their own unique, signature sounds. This is accomplished through a dedicated team of craftsman at their Santa Barbara, California office. For more information, please visit seymourduncan.com.

Peter

The post Seymour Duncan Releases Mark Holcomb Alpha & Omega Signature Pickups appeared first on I Heart Guitar.

Categories: General Interest

Ultra Rare1967 Bigsby Condor Prototype. One of only Only 3

Guitarz - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 06:30
guitarz.blogspot.com:







There's a lot that can be said about this 1967 Bigsby Condor Prototype. But, like the seller, I really don't know where to start. He has this information though, which is a bit more than I could muster up:

"1967 Bigsby Condor Prototype Experimental Guitar, only 3 made, was to be called the Condor, one was given to Barney Kessel, the other was given to Howard Roberts, this one sat in Milwaukee since then, Paul Bigsby may have worked on this-no way to know, the pots are 1967, Paul died in 1968, Hammond was contacted for the electronics, and the work was contracted out to Gibbs Electronics in Milton Wisconsin, Natural finish, Rosewood fretboard, the guitar weighs 11 lbs. - 0.9 oz., biggest volute & headstock on Earth !!, huge neck profile, the guitar has been sitting for almost 50 years, it has not been tested, everything is in very good condition, don't miss this once in a lifetime chance to get an extremely cool & unique collectors item, has the original fancy heavy duty hard case."




The first thing I noticed was the way the strings break at the bridge at a sideways angle. I've never seen another guitar do that. I wonder how effective it is.

Currently listed at $3295 U.S.

R.W. Haller

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Categories: General Interest

Greenchild G777 Overdrive

Guitar Gear - Mon, 02/27/2017 - 17:04
No, sorry folks, but this isn’t a review of the pedal. However, it does seem promising. Not just a regular overdrive that’s patterned off the TubeScreamer or Klon, but something with an entirely different voice. On top of that, it has two independent overdrive channels that can be run in parallel or stacked and it […]
Categories: General Interest

Is There a Viable Alternative to Rosewood?

Guitar Gear - Mon, 02/27/2017 - 11:57
Before I share my own thoughts, I’d like to share an email I got this morning from MusicTrades.com. It’s a trade rag magazine that puts out email digests. I normally ignore them, but the title of the article caught my eye, and I thought I’d pass it along after I read it. Here it is […]
Categories: General Interest

Larry Coryell, The Godfather of Fusion Guitar, Dead at age 73 - A Retrospective of his guitars

The Unique Guitar Blog - Sat, 02/25/2017 - 07:53
Larry Coryell playing his Hagstrom Swede guitar
Larry Coryell passed away of heart failure this past Sunday at age 73. Larry was best known as a Jazz-Fusion player and even dubbed the “Godfather of Fusion.”

He was born Lorenz Albert Van DeLinder III in Galveston Texas and grew up in Richland, Washington when his mother re-married. Larry took his beloved stepfather’s surname, Coryell, at this time. He attended the University of Washington and played in some club bands.

Coryell with Chico Hamilton Quintet


In 1965 Coryell moved to New York City and attended the Mannes School of Music where he got his first big break by joining drummer Chico Hamilton’s jazz quintet.





Coryell in the Gary Burton group


A few years later he recorded with Jazz vibraphone player, Gary Burton.




The Free Spirits



He was also part of a Jazz-Rock group called The Free Spirits and recorded with them.







Larry and Julie Nathanson Coryell


It was during this time period he married Julie Nathanson, a writer-actress and released a solo LP entitled Lady Coryell. This and subsequent LP’s featured his wife’s photos on the cover as well as her poetry.




1970 Album Spaces



In late 1969 he recorded Spaces, the album for which he is best remembered. It was a guitar blow-out that also included John McLaughlin.





Larry Coryell 1971 Barefoot Boy


In the early 1970’s he was in a group called Foreplay, Albums from this era include some of his finest, including Barfoot Boy, Offering and The Real Great Escape.





 Coryell at Long View Farm


After Foreplay disbanded Coryell briefly turned to the acoustic guitar. He returned to the acoustic guitar for albums with the Brubeck Brothers and Mouzon.






The Guitar Trio

By 1979 Coryell formed The Guitar Trio with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia. The group toured Europe. Sadly his addiction lead to him being replaced by Al Di Meola.

Larry stated that he sought help for his problems and became sober, but attended counselling most of his adult life.

1967 Super 400


Throughout his career, Larry Coryell played a variety of interesting guitars. He seemed to be most fond of archtop, hollowbody electrics and even states in an interview that his favorite guitar was his 1967 Gibson Super 400.





Younger days with the '67 Super 400



Interestingly, he views guitars as "wood and metal"; Coryell was all about the music.




Coryell with his first Super 400


In his younger days he played a different Gibson Super 400. This one was blonde and had a single floating pickup mounted on the pickguard.  This guitar was stolen.


With Hagstrom Swede



For a long time he played a Hagstrom Swede.  This was a solidbody guitar that he says he received when his manager made a deal with the company and he used it for nearly 12 years.





Coryell with Ovation Adamas


Coryell also liked the older Ovations that were made in the 70’s, as they were durable road guitars, had great piezo pickups, and had the feel of electric guitars. At one time he even played an Adamas 12 string.



With Matthews Telecaster
Coryell has been photographed playing Martin guitars, classical guitars (actually a Rodriguez Flamenco guitar that was a gift), a white Les Paul guitar, even a Stratocaster and a Telecaster.


Coryell with Parker Guitar

Larry Coryell is well known for playing a blonde Parker semi-acoustic hollowbody guitar. He also played a similar model with a sunburst finish.



Coryell with Parker Event Series acoustic

Coryell must have been fond of Parkers, as he also owned and played a Parker Event Series acoustic steel string guitar, that was made by Washburn.




Larry Coryell Cort model



At one point Cort Guitars offered a Larry Coryell model.






Coryell with his SF Twin Reverb

For much of his career Coryell relied on Fender Twin Reverb amplifiers. Later in life he only used this amp for loud gigs, instead relying on a Jazz-Kat BluesKat amp or a Henriksen amplifier.

With Hamer Monaco III



He said that used little or no reverb, preferring a touch of delay and chorus to get his sound.







The Original Eleventh House
Larry Coryell has collaborated on stage with so many great artists, from Herbie Mann to B.B. King and others too numerous to mention. Larry was still touring the world right up until his passing. He had played two shows at the Iridium in New York city on February 17th and 18th.


He was planning an extensive 2017 summer tour with a reformed the Eleventh House.

He is survived by his wife, Tracey, his daughter Annie, his sons Murali and Julian, and his daughter Allegra, as well as six grandchildren. Both of his sons play guitar and have their own trios





Categories: General Interest

Who is Mel Bay?

The Unique Guitar Blog - Sat, 02/18/2017 - 07:32
Dodd's Music was in the white building


I started taking guitar lessons when I was 13 years old; first at the YMCA in a group setting and then at Dodd’s Music Store, in Covington, Kentucky.






One of the acts on WLW radio

My teacher at Dodd's was an old guy named George Olinger. George made a living playing guitar in Country groups around town as well as being a staff guitarist on WLW radio, back in the days when the station played live music.

George taught me the basic chord patterns mainly from the books he had me purchase, which seemed to all be written by one man; Mel Bay.

Tommy Flint
Last week I learned that a fairly well-known guitarist named Tommy Flint had passed away. It seems that Mr. Flint was not only an excellent finger-style guitarist, in the style of Chet Atkins, but also an author of guitar instruction books that were published by Mel Bay.

This got me to wondering, who was Mel Bay?


Mel 1928 with National Triolian

Mel grew up in a small Missouri town in the Ozark Mountains. He bought his first guitar at the age of 13 from a Sears and Roebuck catalog. Within months of acquiring the guitar, he was playing in front of people. Mel Bay never had a guitar teacher.  He watched other guitar player perform and memorized their fingering on the fretboard.


That is the way I learned to play guitar.  I stood in front of bands and watched the lead guitar player and copied his fingerings. I am certain many of you reading this article honed your skills in much the same manner.

Bay was not satisfied to just learn the guitar. No sir. He went on to learn fingerings on the tenor banjo, mandolin, ukulele and Hawaiian slide guitar. This was all back in the 1920's when he was still a young man.

D'Angelico with "Melbourne Bay"
engraved on the pickguard
Mel Bay became hooked on playing in front of audiences and decided to make a career out of being a professional musician. So he moved to St. Louis in 1933 and joined numerous local and traveling bands. He also was hired by several radio stations as a staff guitarist.

He put together The Mel Bay Trio, which consisted of him, a bass player and a drummer. And this became his steady gig for the next 25 years. His career was briefly interrupted by a stint in the US Army during WWII.

His custom D'Angelico New Yorker
As a working musician he had extra time and was able to teach guitar to others. In fact Mel Bay taught as many as 100 students a week. During those years he found out there was not a lot of instructional material available at the time.

He determined some of the material availabe was flawed. It only offered students chord patterns; not the ability to learn notes on the guitar.

So Mel began writing his own instruction books. These books became the basis for the Mel Bay Publication House.

Mel Bay's 1st Book
After getting out of the Army, he published his first instruction book in 1947 and called it The Orchestral Chord System for Guitar. This book was the first of many to be published it under his own business; Mel Bay Publishing Incorporated. Amazingly this the book is still in print, but now it is titled The Rhythm Guitar Chord System. This book has been used by countless students to learn how to play guitar.


Mel Bay's 2nd Book



By 1948 another book was published called Modern Guitar Method. Through the years Modern Guitar Method has sold more than 20 million copies in its original version.






Mel teaching guitar to
high school students

By the mid 1950’s Elvis Presley's career was the talk of the nation, and this caused the guitar to experience a surge in popularity. During these years Mel Bay traveled around the country talking to guitar teachers and their students about his publications with the goal of selling them as texts.

In doing this he came to know most every guitar teacher in the United States on a first name basis. Guitar Player Magazine dubbed him as The George Washington of Guitar.

Mel Bay playing a mandolin


Since first publishing guitar instruction books, his company has branched off into publishing method books for violin, banjo, mandolin, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, harmonica, folk instruments, and accordion. His books for guitar include methods for differing styles, including folk, jazz, classical, rock, blues and jazz.


Mel Bay Book by Tommy Flint
Getting back to Tommy Flint, who I mentioned early on; Mr. Flint was the author of Mel Bay’s books on Finger Style guitar, Chet Atkins style picking, as well as Bluegrass Guitar and Christmas Songs for Fingerstyle Guitar.  In all, Tommy Flint wrote over 40 books for Mel Bay Publishing

Mel Bay received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Guitar Foundation of America from the Retail Print Music Dealers Association and he also received the Owen Miller Award from the American Federation of Musicians.

Bay received a Certificate of Merit from the St. Louis Music Educators Association, as well as a resolution from the Missouri House of Representatives honoring his achievements. He ever was sent a letter of commendation from President Bill Clinton, and was honored by St. Louis mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. Making October 25, 1996 “Mel Bay Day” for citizens of that fair city.

Mel's D'Angelico New Yorker 
I often wondered about the image of a D’Angelico guitar on the cover of the Mel Bay instruction book that I purchased so many years ago. A similar guitar image also shows up on the cover of other Mel Bay guitar instruction books. It seem that Mel used to sell D’Angelico guitars and kept a half a dozen D'Angelico guitars at his home that were for sale to perspective students.


One of Mel's personal guitars was a New Yorker model with a cutaway and a slightly thinner neck custom made for him.

Mel Bay



Mel Bay kept playing guitar every day until his death at age 84 in 1997.






From St. Louis WOF Inductees
On June 30 of 2011, the city of St. Louis, Missouri honored him one more time by inducting him into the St. Louis Walk of Fame. There is also a Mel Bay Jazz Festival held annually in DeSoto, Missouri; the town where he grew up. The music center at the town’s high school is named in his honor.

Ode To Mel Bay

A song was written by Michael “Supe” Granda of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils called “Ode to Mel Bay”. It is featured on the album by Tommy Emmanuel and Chet Atkins called The Day Finger Pickers Took Over the World. It sort of makes fun of Mel’s instruction books.



Mel Bay Books
Today Mel Bay Publications offers hundreds of books for a variety of instruments that were written by many different authors including Mel’s son, William Bay, who is a very proficient guitarist as well as an author and runs Mel Bay Publications

.



Categories: General Interest

Kurt Cobain Guitar and Jerry Garcia Guitar to be Auctioned

The Unique Guitar Blog - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 20:12
1958 Hagstrom Deluxe 90
One of Kurt Cobain’s guitars is to be auctioned on eBay with the proceeds going to charity. The proceeds will benefit Transition Projects, a Portland, Oregon based organization that benefits homeless veterans and their families.

This auction marks what would have been Cobain’s 50th birthday had he not taken his own life at age 27. A cardigan sweater once owned by the musician brought in $137,000 USD some years ago. This auction will run from February 16 starting at 11:00 am EST to February 26, 11:00 am EST,

Owner Nathan Fasold displays the Hagstrom

The guitar is a vintage 1958 Hagstrom Sparkle Deluxe guitar that is currently owned by Nathan Fasold of Black Book Guitars in Portland.


It has been authenticated by Earnie Bailey, who was formerly Nirvana’s primary guitar tech who personally delivered it to Cobain in 1992. At that time it was converted to a left-handed model. 

Jerry Garcia with Wolf Guitar
Jerry Garcia’s “Wolf” guitar is to be auctioned off this May with proceeds to benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center.

This gorgeous guitar is a 1973 creation of Grateful Dead builder Doug Irwin and was given the name “Wolf” after Garcia affixed a sticker of a cartoon wolf to its lower bout.

Through the years, the guitar went through many updates with pickup combinations.

Body of Wolf guitar


Garcia used this guitar for over 20 years before retiring it in 1993.

After Garcia’s death in 1995, a dispute occurred regarding ownership of Garcia’s instruments. As a part of a settlement, Doug Irwin reclaimed this guitar.




Jerry play Wolf in later years


He later sold it auction to its current owner for over $700,000. The anonymous owner will auction the Wolf guitar at an event to be held at Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Bowl.




The back of the Wolf guitar


The Wolf guitar is an exceptionally gorgeous instrument as was hand-made with book-matched curly western maple for it’s body and the builder also used amaranth wood, also known as purple heart and African ivory. The inlay work on the neck is superb.





Categories: General Interest

Happy 10th Anniversary to GuitarGear.org

Guitar Gear - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 09:58
Wow! Ten years! It is hard to believe that GuitarGear.org has been around that long! What’s even more amazing is that despite having had lapses in posting, I’m actually still adding content after all this time. I thought about what I might write for this momentous occasion and played around with several ideas but in the […]
Categories: General Interest

Fighting with it… Working for It…

Guitar Gear - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 12:29
I’ve sung the praises of my 1958 Fender Champ in the past, and as I use it regularly, my opinion of the amp hasn’t changed. The Champ has been on several recordings of famous artists through the years, and it’s no small wonder why: With a Champ, it really is WYSIWYG as far as sound […]
Categories: General Interest

Gear: Markers Along a Journey

Guitar Gear - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 09:02
Besides music and golf, another passion I have – though nowhere near the level of the former – is wine. I’m not a collector, but I keep a modest amount of great bottles in my small wine cooler. But apart from the wine itself, I love keeping up to date with what’s going on in […]
Categories: General Interest

Electro-Harmonix Effects Pedals; A Brief History

The Unique Guitar Blog - Sat, 02/11/2017 - 06:24
Electro-Harmonix original logo
For electric guitarists it is not enough to have your instrument sound like a guitar; We leave that to the jazz players, the classical players, and the folkies. Electric player want to make their instrument growl, wail, and and scream.

Guitar George


We are not like “Guitar George, he knows all the chords. Mind he’s strictly rhythm he doesn’t want to make them cry or sing.” The majority of us want to express ourselves and be heard.




Maestro Fuzztone
Aside from a loud, over driven amplifier, effects pedals are necessary tools for most guitarists and bass players. The granddaddy of them all was the Maestro Fuzztone. This was the original pedal used on the Rolling Stone’s hit song, Satisfaction, and it started a whole industry.

One of the original and most prominent manufacturers of guitar and bass effects pedal is Electro-Harmonix. This company emerged on the scene in New York City back in 1968.

Mike Matthews in 1979


Back in 1967 Mike Matthews, the companies owner and founder was a rhythm and blues piano player and had a day time sales job. His friend, Bill Berko, was an audio repairman who had just constructed a circuit for a guitar fuzz pedal.




'67 Axis and Foxey Lady fuzz pedals

Under the advice of Matthews, Berko hired a company to construct these pedals under a deal with the Guild Guitar Company and the device was given the name of the Axis fuzz pedal. It was also sold under the name Foxey Lady.

All parties made a little money off the deal, and eventually Berko and Matthews parted ways.

Mike Matthews 1967
However Mike Matthews was smitten with the idea of creating guitar effects. As I've mentioned, at the time Matthews was a salesman for IBM and he next teamed up with an IBM colleague who was an electrical engineer by the name of Bob Myer.

In 1969 they worked together to create a distortion free sustain device. Some fuzz tones of that era produced a buzz saw like effect that produced some sustain, while others like the Maestro box, just added gain to distort the guitars signal. Guitarists at that time wanted the ability for notes to be played and held, just like those played by horn players.

Original LPB-1
What Myer and Matthews came up with was a small device the Linear Power Booster, and called it the LPB-1. This pedal boosted the signal and made the guitar stand out. It did not sit on the floor, but was made to be plugged directly into the amplifier input.


Vintage LPB-1 interior


The price for this unit was about $20 USD, and it was an instant hit. The original units were hand wired with no circuit board.





1969-70 version Big Muff Pi (π)
The next effect that Matthews and Bob Myer created was the a fuzz tone that added a low end heavy sustain to any guitar sound. They gave it the name of The Big Muff Pi. It mixed harmonic distortion, sustain, and fuzz sounds together to make even a small amplifier sound huge. Plus it distorted at any volume. Both devices were instant hits and were put to use by well known artists.

'75 Big Muff Pi (π) interior
The original version of the Big Muff Pi was pretty much hand-made on perforated electronic boards with the wiring and parts hand-soldiered. But by 1970 these devices were updated to etched PCB boards.



Double Muff and Little Muff
The Big Muff was such a hit that subsequent versions emerged in later years, such as the Metal Muff, which had a higher gain threshold, and the Double Muff, which was two Big Muffs wired in series that offered overdrive through a single circuit, or through a cascaded version.

The Little Big Muff was a smaller version of the unit and had a slight variation in the circuit. The NYC Big Muff came with a tone bypass switch that allowed the user to bypass the tone control and another switch the adjusted the frequencies of 3 filters embedded in the circuit.

EH Bass and Treble boost

There were several other devices made by Electro-Harmonix in the late 1960's and early 1970's that included a Treble Booster, called the Screaming Bird and a Bass Booster called the Mole, that were made in a similar format to the LPB-1; These small boxes had an input on one end to accept the guitar cable and a plug on the opposite side that went into the amplifier. These units originally sold for around $20 USD.


EH Slap Back Echo



The company also produced the Slap-Back Echo box that produced a slap-back effect and came with a filter switch to shape the tone.






1975 EH Small Stone Phaser
One of the more popular effects the company produced at this time was the Small Stone Phase Shifter. It was a 4 stage phasing circuit, design by David Cockerell. This device had one large knob to adjust the rate of phasing and a slider switch labeled “Color” that engaged an additional stage of feedback for a more pronounced sound. Think of the Doobie Brothers song “Listen to the Music”.

EH Band Stone Phase Shifter



The Bad Stone Phase Shifter was an upgraded circuit that added a Feedback control and a Manual Shift control to filter the sweet spot.





'77 EH Octave Multiplexer



Electro-Harmonix came out with an octave box called the Octave Multiplexer which produced the clean signal and a filtered signal an octave below.






EH Elecric Mistress Flanger



The Electric Mistress Flanger Chorus Pedal came out in the mid 1970’s and was one of the first multi-effects devices.






Mid 70's EH Attack Equalizer



The Electro-Harmonix Attack Equalizer pedal was a combination of a parametric EQ to produce desired equalization and a pre-amplifier to boost the guitars signal.






1981 EH Graphic Fuzz


The Electro-Harmonix Graphic Fuzz was not only a fuzztone/distortion unit, but it added a six band graphic eq control section.



1980 EH Full Double Tracking Effect
The Full Double Tracking Effect, split the guitars signal. One signal was given a slight delay that was adjustable, while the other was the original guitar signal. It came with a switch that allowed the delay to be 50 ms or 100 ms. The knob adjusted the mix of the original and filtered signals.

'77 EH Triggered Y Filter


The Triggered Y Filter was sort of a phaser unit that allowed the frequency range to be adjusted to Lo or Hi and the amplitude/depth of the filter sweep.







Late '70's EH Echoflanger

The Echo Flanger produced a modulated Echo and a flanging effect, similar to what record producer did when they would press their finger or thumb on recording tape to cause the one of the tracks to be slightly delayed.


1978 EH Memory Man

The Electro-Harmonix Memory Man, was introduced in 1978 and produced analog delay and echo using “bucket brigage” integrated circuits and incorporated a chorus effect. So the user could choose echo or chorus


EH Deluxe Memory Man


Several models of this effect including a stereo version and the Deluxe Memory Man that added a chorus/vibrato feature to the echo.



EH Small Clone Chorus


The Small Clone chorus, introduced by EHX around 1981 remains a very popular chorus pedal. it was also produced in two different smaller versions known as the Neo Clone and the Nano Clone.






EH Holy Grail Reverb


Electro-Harmonix issued a very popular reverb pedal called The Holy Grail.  This pedal came in several different formats including The Holy Grail Plus and the Cathedral. The Holy Stain was a multi-effects pedal that offered two different types of reverb.




EH Wigger 



Tremolo was one of the very earliest guitar effects and Electro-Harmonix offered a solid-state tremolo/vibrato pedal called the Stereo Pulsar and a tube based model called the Wiggler.





1972 Mike Matthews Freedom Amp
In 1972 the company came out with The Mike Matthews Freedom Amp. This DC powered amp put out around 25 watts RMS into a 10” speaker and was wired point-to-point. The controls included Volume, Tone, and Bite. The housing was rugged and built to be carried around. It was possibly the first battery powered amplifier.

Interior of Freedom Amp with battery clips

The only drawback was that it took 40 D cell batteries to power the thing.  It was also available as a bass model or as a public address amplifier which came with built in reverb.


'90's EH Freedom Amp
An updated 1990's version of this amplifier was later produced with a lower wattage but in an all wood cabinet. This version came with a wall adapter and a rechargeable battery.

By 1982 Electro-Harmonix was facing a multiplicity of problems. First there was a labour union dispute. And about the same time the company filed for bankruptcy protection. Two years later, in 1984 Electro-Harmonix was in deeper financial problems and Mike Matthew decided to shift his attention away from the little effects boxes to a new venture.

Mike Matthews



He launched a new company that he called the New Sensor Corporation, which was based in the Soviet Union. Matthew saw the need for vacuum tubes, which were no longer being manufactured in the United States and in short supply, but were plentiful in the USSR.




Sovtek Tubes
Matthews put together factories in three Russian cities to produce Sovtek tubes and eventually became one of the largest suppliers of vacuum tubes in the world. To this day they still offer a variety of the most popular tubes used in modern amplifiers.


Sovtek Mig 50 amplifier
At the time the company went on to produce several tube amplifiers under the Sovtek brand name that included the Mig 50, the Sovtek Mig 60, and the Sovtek Mig 100, were all named after Russian fighter jets.

These amps were based on popular circuits and can still be found on the web at bargain prices.

New Sensor EH Russian made Big Muff Pi



In 1990 Electro-Harmonix resumed the building effect pedals. Some of these were made in Russia through 2009.





EH 2006 Nano Pedals

In 2006 the smaller and more standardized "micro" and "nano" effect lines using surface-mount circuit components were introduced.


The circuit board manufacturing was outsourced, but the final assembly of the pedals was done in New York.

Vintage EH Micro Synthesizer


When synthesizers came into vogue, EH offered the Micro Synthesizer for guitar or bass and the HOG effects unit; Harmonic Octave Generator.




An original EH POG


The POG or Polyphonic Octave Generator was released in 2005 and an enhanced version called the POG 2 came out in 2009. These units allowed your instrument to produce notes 2 octaves up and one octave below the guitars signal.



EH 22 Caliber Amplifier


Two of the more interesting and modern Electro-Harmonix creations may look like effects pedals, but are actually amplifiers housed in pedal sized effects box. The EHX 22 Caliber was a 22 watt solid-state amplifer capable of driving an 8 or 16 ohm speaker cabinet.




EH 44 Magnum Amplifier



It was discontinued and replaced by the EHX 44 Magnum, which could pump 44 solid-state watts into an 8 or 16 ohm speaker cabinet. These are small enough to pack into your guitar case. It is important to note, these units must be connected to a speaker load to work.



Electro-Harmonix C9



For 2016 and 2017 Electro-Harmonix has developed some amazing pedals that can coax organ or piano sounds from your guitar without the need for special pickups.





Electro-Harmonix B9



The C9 and B9 Organ Machines replicate the sounds of several different types of organs, from Hammond organs to church organs, to combo organs.




Electro-Harmonix Key 9

The Key 9 Electric Piano Machine produces a number of electric piano sounds. Combine any of these with the Lester G Deluxe Rotary Speaker emulator or the Lester K Rotary Speaker emulator and as a guitarist you now have all the tools of a keyboard player without the weight of hauling a B-3 and a Leslie cabinet.


Electro-Harmonix Mel 9



The Mel 9 Tape Replay Machine produces sounds from your guitar that were only possible with a Mellotron.





A few of the Electro-Harmonix effects

Electro-Harmonix now offers a line up that is far too numerous to mention every product. And these include not just guitar effects, but bass effects, drum effects and vocal effects.  And they have also updated versions of their original effects that sell at a much lower price than the vintage models.

As a reminder, the sources for the pictures can be found by clicking on the links below them and the links in the text will take you to further interesting facts.
©UniqueGuitar Publishing (text only)









Categories: General Interest

I’ll Be Damned… James Taylor’s Tuning Works!

Guitar Gear - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 11:11
A couple of days ago, I wrote an article about how James Taylor tunes his guitars, utilizing the “cents” on the tuner to compensate for the shape of an acoustic guitar, and how the bass notes ring sharper than their tuning, and also to compensate for a capo pulling the strings sharp. Here’s the video […]
Categories: General Interest

The More I See This Guy…

Guitar Gear - Thu, 02/09/2017 - 11:25
…the more I appreciate his virtuosity with the guitar. “This guy” happens to be Eric Rachmany of Rebelution, and he’s absolutely amazing. If you’re familiar with Rebelution, you know that they’re a reggae band out of Isla Vista, CA. And you might think, “It’s reggae – all um-chuck, um-chuck. How hard could it be?” Admittedly, […]
Categories: General Interest

To Attenuate Or Not To Attenuate?

Guitar Gear - Wed, 02/08/2017 - 11:13
For me, an attenuator was a key component in my live signal chain for many years. As I was playing live mostly in a church setting, in order to get my amp to “growl” levels, I had no other choice but to use output attenuation to control my volume. And for this, I used several […]
Categories: General Interest

James Taylor: Making “Cents” Out of Tuning

Guitar Gear - Tue, 02/07/2017 - 15:28
If you go to a gear board like The Gear Page and search on tuners, you’ll see a lot of talk about a tuner’s “cents.” A “cent” is hundredth of a 1/2 note. People like to talk about “cents” to compare the accuracy of the tuners that they use. In general, if a tuner is […]
Categories: General Interest

The Lowly Capo: A TOOL of the Trade

Guitar Gear - Tue, 02/07/2017 - 09:31
Repeat after me: A Capo is just a tool… A Capo is just a tool… Over the years, a few people have approached me personally or online and have said that they considered a capo to be a “cheater,” simultaneously proffering a backhanded insult at the same time. The first time it happened, I laughed […]
Categories: General Interest

Where Do I Put My Volume Pedal?

Guitar Gear - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 09:36
I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked that question over the years, and my answer is pretty much the same: “It depends…” No, I’m not trying to be a dick, but it really does depend on what you’re after with your volume pedal. The reason I’m bringing this up is because of a […]
Categories: General Interest

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