The Unique Guitar Blog

Subscribe to The Unique Guitar Blog feed
All things guitarmarcus oharahttps://plus.google.com/112071189804804352234noreply@blogger.comBlogger373125
Updated: 2 hours 24 min ago

Tom Petty - His Life and Guitars

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 03:28
Tom Petty


Charlie T. Wilbury Jr has died, and so has Tom Petty. When I think of Tom Petty, I think of one of the last real rock players. There are some others still with us; Petty was one of the best.





Tom Petty in later years
Tom Petty was a like chameleon. Sometimes his voice sounded like Bob Dylan; Sometimes he sounded like Roger McQuinn, on his song Room at the Top, he tried to sound like Carl Wilson, but most of the time Petty was at his best with his own distinct voice.

Young Tom Petty

Petty had a rough childhood with an abusive father.  By age 11, he knew what he wanted to do with his life, when he had a chance meeting with Elvis Presley.  In 1961, Tom's uncle owned a film developing company in Ocala Florida, the same town where Elvis was shooting the movie, Follow That Dream. Young Petty was asked by his aunt and cousins if he would like to go watch the action.


At age 11 Petty met Elvis

Petty was dumbfound when the King climbed out of a white Cadillac and walked over past the crowd to speak with his aunt, cousins, and him. While his family recalls that moment as a special event, for Tom Petty this was life changing. After that he quit going outside, content to stay inside and listen to music all day. He even collected Elvis 45 rpm records.



The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show
In 1964, when The Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show, Petty knew that he wanted to be in a band. Eventually he learned to play guitar. And of course, if you played guitar, you needed to sing. His first guitar teacher was Don Felder, who went on to become one of the founding member of The Eagles.

Petty's First Band
He formed a band called The Epic, which later named themselves Mudcrutch. By 1976, the band had gone their separate ways after a recording they made called Depot Street failed to chart. Mike Campbell, Benmont Trench, decided to stick with Petty, who had decided on a solo career.

They were later joined by Ron Blair, and Stan Lynch and became the first incarnation of The Heartbreakers.

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers




The band’s first album enjoyed more success in the UK than in the United States.






Damn The Torpedoes



But their second album, Damn The Torpedoes, sold over two million copies and had hit songs on it like, Don’t Do Me Like That, Here Comes My Girl, and Refugee.




Stevie Nicks with Petty
Subsequent albums were also hits, and lead to Petty recording with Stevie Nicks, and being asked by Bob Dylan to join him on tour. The Heartbreakers even played some dates with The Grateful Dead.  The groups 1985 album was produced by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics.

The Travelin' Wilbury's
with their Gretsch guitars
In 1988 Petty was asked by George Harrison to join his group, The Traveling Wilburys. Along with Petty, and Harrison were Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne. This lead to several albums. Petty incorporated The Wilburys’ songs into his live shows.

Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty


Petty collaborated with Jeff Lynne on one of his best songs; I Won't Back Down.

Petty and the Heartbreakers had initially inked a deal with Shelter Records at the start of their career. Shelter Records was later sold to MCA, which upset Petty. He felt that he and his band were being treated like a commodity.

To thumb his nose at MCA, he financed next record and ran up a bill in a recording studio costs of over $500,000, then he refused to release the album. In a legal move, he declared bankruptcy to force MCA to void his contract. He then resigned with MCA on more favorable terms.

Tom Petty Hard Promises
His album, Hard Promises was to be sold at $9.98. Petty once again argued with executives at the company that the price was too high and he refused to allow the album to go forward. The record company relented and dropped the price a full dollar. Petty’s legal maneuvering led the way for other artists to take back their music and receive respect from the record companies.

The Traveling Wilburys were signed to Warner Brothers Records. Petty later signed a contract with this company under a better arrangement then he had with MCA.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - last concert September 25, 2017
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers continued to tour and played his last concert at the Hollywood Bowl just a week before his untimely death on October 2nd.

The guitars that Petty used are too numerous to mention them all. He was a collector and owned some exquisite instruments.

Petty - 1964 Stratocaster



One of his favourite guitasr was a sunburst 1964 Fender Stratocaster.





Petty with vintage
 Rickenbacker


He played quite a few Rickenbacker instruments, including a 1965 Rose Morris, and a 1987, and 1993 reissue of the Rose Morris. For those that do not know, in 1965 Rose-Morris Music was chosen to be the official distributor of Rickenbacker guitars.





Petty with Rickenbacker 330/12


Petty also owns a  1967 Rickenbacker 360/12.





Tom Petty Rickenbacker 660/12


He plays a 1989 Rickenbacker 660/12TP, that was designed by the company as an artist model for him. Petty had input in the design of this guitar's neck. He had them build the neck so it was slightly wider than other Rickenbacker 12 string guitars.



Petty - Epiphone Casino

In an interview he stated that one of his favorite guitars for recording is an Epiphone Casino. Since feedback was a problem with hollow body guitars, he did not take this one on the road.

Petty '63 Telecaster reissue



On the road he played a white ‘62 Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster, as well as a sonic blue ‘63 Fender Telecaster.







Petty with a 1967 Fender Esquire


Petty also owned a blonde ‘67 Fender Esquire, and his sunburst ‘64 Fender Stratocaster.





Petty with '76 Firebird



Tom also owned a white ‘63 Fender Stratocaster, a 1960 blonde Telecaster, and a 1976 Gibson Firebird V.







Petty with his Fender XII



One other Fender guitar he owned w.as a white late 1960's Fender XII







Petty with Gretsch Country Gentleman


Petty owned and played a couple of vintage Gretsch guitars; a 1963 Gretsch Country Gentleman, model 6122, and a 1967 Gretsch Tennessean, model 6119.



Petty with Gretsch Billy-Bo


He also owned a Gretsch G61999 Billy-Bo Jupiter.





With signature model
Rickenbacker 660/12TP


We've already alluded to his Rickenbacker collection, which included His 1964 Rose Morris 12 string with a Fireglo finish. A Rickebacker 320, a 1967 Rickenbacker 360/12, a mid 1980’s Rickenbacker 620/12 with a fireglo finish, his signature 660/12TP, also done in fireglo.




Petty with his '64 Electro


He also owned a 1964 Rickenbacker Electro ES-17, in fireglo.  (There were only two models of the Electro brand was made in the USA by Rickenbacker; The ES-16, and the ES-17. In their day, these were budget guitars, but were fine instruments.)





Petty with 1966 Vox Mark VI


Petty also played a white 1966 Vox Mark VI teardrop guitar. Petty sometimes played bass guitar in the Heartbreakers.


Petty with Hòfner Club bass


His bass collection included a 1960's model Höfner Club Bass, and a 1960's model Höfner Violin bass.




'60's Danelectro Longhorn bass



He also owned and played an ES-335 Gibson bass, and a 1960's Danelectro Longhorn bass. Both were used in The Travelin' Wilburys.






Martin "Tom Petty" HD-40
six and twelve string models



His favorite acoustic guitars included a C.F. Martin HD-40 Tom Petty signature model, and a 12 version of this same instrument.





Tom Petty's Gibson Dove

Petty owned a Gibson Dove, that he used as his primary guitar to write songs. He saved this guitar from a fire that destroyed his home in 1987.


Petty's '69 Gibson Everly Brothers J-180


Other acoustic guitars included a 1987 Gibson Everly Brothers acoustic.



Petty with Gibson J-200




A Gibson Tom Petty signature J-200 Wlldflower acoustic, and a Gibson Pete Townsend J-200 acoustic-electric model that had a natural finish.




Guild D-25-12


He frequently played 1970’s Guild D25-12 string acoustic in concert.





Tom Petty Fender Acoustic-electric


Fender had designed a Tom Petty model acoustic guitar.





Petty's FenderVibro King amplifiers



His amplifier set up included two 60 watt Fender Vibro-King combos.





Petty's Amplifiers
He also toured with a 1969 Marshall JMP Plexi head, and a 1987 Marshall Vintage Series 50 watt tube head.

Petty preferred Vox speaker cabinets. He owned a mid 1960's model Vox 120 Super Beatle head.

Petty took a couple of Hi-Watt amps on the road, including a 2007 Custom 50 watt head, and a recent model DR-504 Custom 50 watt head.

'59 Bassman Reissue



In addition to the Fender Vibro-King amplifiers, Petty also used a reissue '59 Bassman. In a recent interview with Tom Wheeler, Petty states he purchased many of his guitars and amplifiers from Norm's Rare Guitars in Los Angeles.







Tom Petty 10/20/1950 - 10/02/2017



I will conclude this remembrance with some lyrics from Jimmy Webb’s song called, "All I know".



"When the singer's gone Let the song go on..."

Click on the links under the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications






Categories: General Interest

Surf Guitar - Instrumental Guitar Music

Sun, 10/01/2017 - 13:46
The British Invasion


In 1965 the British Invasion was in full force, and so was the guitar boon. As a 13 year old boy, I had to have a guitar, and so did many of my friends.




The Surfaris


The popular British groups were mostly vocal groups. So, back in those days, to learn guitar we turned to guitar groups such as The Ventures, Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, The Chantays, and of course The Surfaris.





The Surfaris - Wipe Out
The Surfaris had written, recorded and performed the one-hit wonder “Wipe Out”. This simple 12 bar tune had only four notes that were repeated in the I, IV, and V position. If a guy had any sense of rhythm at it was simple to learn, and a great starter tune for all those young garage band guitarists.

An early publicity photo of
The Ventures
Those of us who wanted to take a further plunge into Surf guitar stepped up to learn songs by The Ventures, such as Walk, Don’t Run (both versions) or The Chantays song, Pipeline,  or Dick Dale’s Miserlou, or The Marketts song Out of LImits. All you needed was a good ear, and some ability to play basic guitar.

Dick Dale
Credit should be given to Dick Dale for the creation of Surf Music. As a young man, Dale had two passions; playing guitar and surfing. He was born in Boston, with the name Richard Monsour. His family lived in an Arab/Lebanese community in Quincy Mass, where he learned to play traditional music that was taught to him by his uncle. One of these songs was known as Egyptian Muslim Girl in Arabic, but translated to Miserlou in English.

While growing up, Dale learned to play traditional instruments. And this is where he got his rapid picking technique.

By his teen years, Dale's father got a new job and moved the family to El Segundo, California. There Dick got involved with surfing and taught himself how to play guitar. And he became a master of both skills.

Dick Dale and The Del-Tones
He changed his surname to Dale, dabbled for a while in Country and Western music, before finding a niche by creating music about surfers and surfing. He then put together a band and called it Dick Dale and The Deltones.

By 1961 Dick Dale had become so popular in the city of Newport Beach that he was able to get permission from the owner of the Rendezvous Ballroom to reopen the shuttered establishment and put on a series of dances that he called Stomps. These events were very popular, drawing crowds of up to 4,000 people at each dance. Dale played this venue for a six-month stretch.

Dick Dale and the Del-Tones
During his sets, he kept blowing up his amplifiers, since his style of playing pushed those amps and speakers to the breaking point. As a result he got in touch with Leo Fender and Freddie Travares. Both men came to watch him play and after the shows, the men all got together to discuss what could be done.

Dick Dale with original Stratocaster
The result was the creation of the Fender Showman amp, which had transformers that could withstand Dale’s aggressive and extremely loud style, and also had a 15” JBL D130F heavy duty speaker, and boosted an output of 100 watts RMS.

This was the amplifier that Dale needed, and it went on to become the staple of most Surf bands.

Fender Reverb Unit
The other device that Dale, and many other Surf bands used was a outboard Fender Reverb Unit; model 6G15. This was a tube powered device that utilized a 12AT7 preamp tube, a 6K6 power tube, and a 12AX7 tube as the reverb recovery tube. This unit was usually placed on the floor, so it would not rattle on top of the amp and make noise.

It featured three controls; Dwell, Mixer, and Tone. This was usually the only effect that Surf bands used.

Surf music was meant to be played clean and loud. Any distortion came from the tubes in the amplifier.

The Chantays

Dale was a Californian. So were the members of the Chantays. Surprisingly,  some of the most well-known Surf bands were not from California, or even near an ocean.



The Marketts
The Marketts were more or less a studio band that played songs written by producer/songwriter Michael Z. Gordon. In 1961 Gordon put together a group of musicians from his home town of Rapid City, South Dakota called The Routers, and the group went on tour.


The Routers eventually moved to California and were signed by Warner Brothers Records, where they had a hit record called The Pony.

The Marketts aka The Routers
Gordon went on to write another tune that he called Outer Limits. This instrumental had a catchy recurring four note theme, which sounded too close to the theme song of a very popular television show called the Twilight Zone.

Around the same time the song was released, the Twilight Zone’s creator, Rod Serling, had developed another science fiction/mystery show called The Outer Limits. Not only was Mr. Serling not amused with the song, he thought the song’s title infringed on his new show's trademark name. Serling sued and to settle the song was re-titled Out of Limits.

Out of Limits
Like many touring bands from that era, the song was actually recorded by session players in Los Angeles, including drummer Hal Blaine. This method saved the record companies money and put out recordings that were professionally done. Out of Limits went on to sell over a million copies. Gordon went on to write some lesser known surf songs. He later became famous for writing film and television music.

The Chantays

The Chantays started in 1961 as a group when they were still high school students in Orange County, California. A year later they had a hit record with their song; Pipeline. The Chantays had a few other minor hits, but will forever be remember for their one big hit.



The Chantays on Lawrence Welk

Pipeline was so popular that it was recorded by many other artists. The Chantays other claim to fame was being the only Rock/Surf band ever to be featured on The Lawrence Welk Show.


The Ventures 


Perhaps the biggest instrumental surf music band of all was not from California. Members of The Ventures all lived and worked in Tacoma, Washington.



Don Wilson and Bob Bogle
Don Wilson and Bob Bogle had a chance meeting in 1958 where they discovered they both played guitar. These guys bought a couple of used guitars from a pawn shop and started playing at bars and small clubs.


Nokie Edwards at right
They went to see guitarist Nokie Edwards, who was playing at a nightclub and asked if he would join them as a bass player.  He took them up on the offer. They called themselves The Ventures.



The Ventures with Howie Johnson
The band later went through several drummers before settling on a guy named Howie Johnson. The drummer that originally played on the recording of Walk, Don’t Run, was Skip Moore. Moore left the group to work at his families gas station

Next George Babbitt joined the group, but had to leave, because he was too young to play in nighclubs.

Babbitt went on to become a 4 Star General in the US Army.

The Ventures with Mel Taylor
Johnson played with The Ventures until he was injured in an automobile accident. He was replaced by Mel Taylor.

Back when Wilson and Bogle met Nokie Edward, he was already performing a Chet Atkins song called in his nightclub set called Walk, Don’t Run. This song was actually written by jazz guitarist Johnny Smith.

The Ventures Walk, Don't Run
The Ventures took their version of this song to a recording studio and laid down a track, along with a B-side called Home, and had the company press some 45 rpm records, which they shipped to record companies and radio stations.

The tune was eventually picked up by Dolton Records and went on to become #2 on the charts. It was later redone by The Ventures with an updated surf guitar arrangement and released again as Walk, Don’t Run ‘64. This song became one of only a handful of recordings that charted twice on the Billboard Hot 100.

Walk, Don't Run
Walk, Don’t Run became required playing for all garage bands in the mid 1960’s. It’s theme was slightly more complex than other surf songs, as it went from a minor to a major mode. The Ventures went on to produce many more albums, and even TV themes, however the early recordings were generally surf based music.


The Pyramids (with Dick Clark)
Another one-hit wonder band was The Pyramids. These guys were from Long Beach, California and scored in the Billboard Top 20 with their self penned song called Penetration. The group went on to get a part in the Bikini Beach movie, playing another song they had written called Bikini Drag.

1964 Fender Showman 15" JBL
Most Surf groups used high wattage Fender amplifiers, usually a Showman, or Dual Showman. The only outboard effects were the stand-alone Fender Reverb unit. The sound also sometimes relied on the amplifiers onboard tremolo/vibrato circut.

Mosrite Fuzzrite
In 1964, The Ventures were working with Semie Moseley, and he gave them a Mosrite Fuzzrite pedal, which was used on a few songs; notably the 2000 Pound Bee (Although one source cites that the fuzz pedal used by The Ventures was made by a pedal steel player named Red Rhodes, that joined them on the album The Ventures In Space).

Interestingly, Moseley had hired a young man to help design amplifiers for his company. So Alexander Dumble is rumored to have modified The Venture’s Fender amplifiers.

Early photo of The Ventures

During their early years, The Ventures played late 1950 era Fender guitars; a Jazzmaster, a Stratocaster, and a Precision Bass.


Mosrite guitars had already become popular in California, due to the double neck model that Joe Maphis and Larry Collins played on a California television show called Ranch Party.

Gene Moles with his Mosrite
Semie Moseley, the guitars creator, also made a single neck version. Nokie Edward saw a local guitarist named Gene Moles playing one of these new Mosrite guitars. Edwards was fascinated with the sound and design and asked if Moles would introduce him to Moseley. On their first meeting Nokie Edwards walked away with a Mosrite guitar.


Mosrite
Ventures Model
Before long, Edwards struck up a deal with Moseley to build guitars under The Ventures logo. This arrangement lasted from 1963 to 1965, when the model name was changed to the Mark I. However The Ventures continued to tour with Mosrite guitars from 1963 to 1968.

Briefly Mosrite had attempted to build and market an all transistor amplifier under The Ventures banner. However it failed, due to design problems. After the agreement between Mosrite and the Ventures ended, The Ventures returned to playing Fender instruments.

Wilson Brothers
Ventures Model



Later in life, the group had arrangements with Aria Guitars, and Wilson Brothers Guitars to produce Ventures model guitars.








Aria Ventures model



And later in their career, The Ventures enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in Japan; the same country where Aria guitars are manufactured.




The Chantays


The Chantays played matching 1960 model Fender Stratocasters and a Fender Precision Bass from that same era after they became famous.



The Chantays

Prior to that one of the players used a 1961 Kay K580 with a single coil pickup. The other player had either a Valco or Airline single pickup guitar. The Chantay’s bass player had a 1960’s model Precision bass.


This group used Fender Showman amplifiers that were built between 1960 - 63 that were covered with white Tolex and had maroon grill clothe. Before that they have a Fender Deluxe amp, and a Danelectro/Silvertone style Twin Twelve amplifier, and of course the Fender reverb units.

The Pyramids
The two guitarists in the Pyramids played 1960 Fender Stratocasters. One player was left-handed and played a red strat, while the other right-handed player had a white strat. The bass player had a sunburst Precision bass with a black pickguard. This group also used “blonde” Fender Showman amplifiers.

Dick Dale's Stratocaster

Dick Dale was given a Fender Stratocaster by Leo Fender. The story goes that Dale visited Fender at his office and announced that he was a guitar player, but did not have an instrument. Leo procured a Strat and has Dale to play something.

Dick Dale's Stratocaster

Since Dale was left-handed, he flipped the guitar upside down and to Mr. Fender’s amusement played the guitar in this manner. Dick Dale had learned to play guitar with the large E string on the bottom and the small one on the top.

Mr. Fender must have been impressed because he had a left-handed Stratocaster built for Dick Dale. However Dale always strung it like it was a right-handed guitar.

Dale's set up - original Showman amp
 - Dual Showman cab - reverb unit

Dale and Leo Fender had lengthy discussions on building guitars, amplifiers, and even combo organs. As previously stated, this was how the Fender Showman and Dual Showman were developed. At Dale’s suggestion the Tolex was changed from white material, to a light brown colour, which showed less dirt.


Dick Dale’s mid 1950’s Fender Stratocaster was originally painted Olympic White with a red tortoise shell pickguard. It is odd, since most models of that vintage had maple fretboards, Dick Dales model was perhaps the first of that era to have a rosewood fretboard.

Dale modified the guitar by removing all of the pots, since he felt they took away from the volume, and he always kept the guitar at full volume anyway.

His guitar had the older 3-way toggle switch. Dale had another switch installed that turned the middle pickup on or off. This enabled him to use the middle and neck pickups or the middle and bridge pickups simultaneously. Dick Dale never used the vibrato. He blocked it off with a piece of wood.

Dick Dale's repainted Stratocaster
Sometime in 1963, Dale had the guitar repainted with a gold sparkle finish. He also changed pickguard to a plain white one. It has remained that way for years, and Dick Dale still uses the same guitar in his concerts.

Though Dick Dale was mainly thought of as an instrumental guitarist, he also sang on many of his early recordings.

1960 Fender Jazzmaster


Many of the California Surf and instrument guitar players preferred the Fender Jazzmaster, because of its pickups, which had a warmer sound than Stratocaster pickup and some of its other attributes.





1959 Fender Jazzmaster
One of the other features that made this guitar desirable to Surf players was it’s dual circuitry. The switch on the guitars upper bout enabled the player to chose the lead mode, in which both pickups acted conventionally, or the rhythm mode, which worked only on the neck pickup.

In this mode, volume and tone were controlled by the roller switches on the upper bout. This also activated a capacitor in this circuit that gave the guitar a warmer tone with more of an acoustic feel. The other difference was the use of 1M linear taper potentiometers for the lead tone control, and a 50 k linear taper potentiometer for the rhythm tone control.

The final feature that made the Jazzmaster most desirable was it’s long-armed vibrato. The vibrato in Surf  music of the day was used subtly to enhance the end of musical phrases.

1960's Fender Stratocaster


The Fender Stratocaster seemed to be the preferable  choice for Surf bands as their lead instrument. It was usually played with the bridge pickup activated to get the best sound for this genre.




Fender Flatwound strings



Strings were also important to Surf players. They preferred heavier gauged flat-wound strings.






Difference - roundwound - flatwound


These strings were great for recording, and perhaps live playing, since there was no string scraping noise.




Dick Dale preferred regular extremely heavy gauged guitar strings as part of his sound. His preference was .016, .18, .20, .39, .49, and .60 gauge strings, with the .60 string being the first string.

One other aspect of surf music that may seem odd today, but was downright cool to a kid in the 1960’s was that while the groups played they also did a sort of synchronized dance; moving the guitar necks up, down, and side to side, while stepping back, forth, and sideways sometimes kicking a leg up and down. It is damn silly looking now.

Over on the other side of the world, there were a couple of groups that were prominent in instrumental music, which sounded very close to Surf music.

The Shadows

The Shadows were originally formed as the band that backed popular British singer Cliff Richards on his recordings and shows, and worked with him from 1956 to 1968.


However the group charted with several instrumental hits on their own. Most notably was a 1960 song called Apache. It was a great song.

The Shadows band included guitarists Bruce Welch, and Brian Rankin, aka Hank Marvin. They added bass player Jet Harris, aka Terrance Harris, and drummer Tony Meehan.

Apache - The Shadows
The song, Apache, was written by Jerry Lordan, went on to become a number 1 hit in the UK and abroad.

The Shadows had several more hit songs. Perhaps the best known player from the group was Hank Marvin. He was one of the first players in the UK to own a Fender Stratocaster.


VML Easy Mute and Trem bar
Marvin later modified this guitar to include a device called a VML Easy Mute Vibrato. This features a longer trem arm with an extra bend at the base. It allowed the player to hold onto the bar while picking the notes, and muting the bass strings with the palm of one's hand.



The Shadows - Burns/Baldwin Guitars
At one point Marvin and the Shadows played Burns of London/Baldwin guitars, but later went back to Fender instruments. They always played through Vox AC30 amplifiers., and used a Watkins Copicat tape echo unit.

Telestar Satellite - 1962
In 1962 Bell Laboratories launched the first of two communications satellites into orbit around the Earth. Both satelited were called Telestar. The world was in awe and so was a British record producer/sound engineer named Joe Meek.



Joe Meek

Meek had a rented flat above a leather goods shop in Northern London. There he kept a lot of recording equipment. One electronic instrument that he had on hand was called a Clavioline.


Joe Meek's Clavioline
This was a small electronic keyboard, which came with an amplifier and a stand. The Clavioline was only capable of generating one note at a time. Joe Meek used this instrument to compose the theme to a song he called Telestar.


Joe Meek and The Toranados
Meek recorded this song in his apartment and accomplished part of the arrangement by splicing in recordings of the computer like language that the satellite was transmitting back to Earth. He interspersed this with the theme music that was played on Clavioline, guitar, bass, and drums. He must have recorded the musicians there after the shop had closed.

His recording was laced with a lot of echo and reverberation giving the illusion that this song was being played by a much larger group in a much larger hall.

The group of musicians that recorded Telestar were known as the Toranados. They went on to do live performances of Telestar and other songs and were featured on LP's.

The Toranados
Some of the members were session players in the British recording industry. These members included Clem Cattini on drums, Alan Caddy, who played the lead guitar part on a double cutaway Chet Atkins Gretsch model (also a Duo-Jet), George Bellamy who played o rhythm guitar on a mid 1950’s acoustic Gretsch model 6030 , that had an aftermarket pickup built into the pickguard (also seen with a Gretsch Anniversary), Heinz Burt, who played bass on a Framus Star bass guitar, and Geoff Goddard who played the Clavioline and did the vocal.

The Original Telestar Record
The Telestar song sold over 5 million copies and won awards. And though it was not a Surf song, it was a very important instrumental in rock/pop music history for this period.

Click on the links below the images for sources. Click on the links in the text for more information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)







Categories: General Interest

Peavey T-60 Guitar and T-40 Bass

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 11:13
Peavey T-60 & T-40



One of the most underrated, and best solid body guitars made in the USA was the Peavey T-60. The same can be said for the Peavey T-40 bass guitar.






Hartley Peavey with T-60


Hartley Peavey graduated from Mississippi State University and went to work at his father's music store.  In 1965 Hartley started building amplifiers under the Peavey brand name. His amplifiers gained popularity and so did his reputation for building a dependable product.



By the early 1970’s Hartley was looking to expand into the guitar market. Competition in the guitar market was rough as this was a time when manufacturers looked to sell more guitars at a lower cost.

1960-70's Lathe with copy attachment
Peavey was an avid gun collector and knew some things about the mass production techniques used to build rifle stocks in a manner that they would attach to the gun barrels with precise fit. Peavey surmised that he could use a copy lathe, like the gun builders used, to create guitar necks with precision measurements.

He became the first manufacture to use this technique.

The same process has been done for years since using CNC equipment, however Peavey decided on this technique in the early 1970's at a time when computer aided machinery was in its infancy. This production method allowed Peavey to build guitars at a high production rate with lower costs, at better quality than his competition.

Chip Todd in the 1980's


Chip Todd was hired in 1974 by Peavey to oversee the guitar division. It took several years to overhaul the plant and order machinery to gear up for guitar production.



The First T-60 Advertisement

By 1978 the first models were offered. These were the T-60 guitar and T-40 bass. In advertisements of the day, Peavey was offering the T-60 and asking consumers “Why?" And featured pictures of a Les Paul selling for $918, and a Fender Stratocaster selling for $790, and a Peavey T-60 for only $375.




1979 Peavey T-60
And the T-60 was indeed a great guitar. Manufacturers took note. The T-60 was a market changer. By the way, the T is for Todd; as in it’s creator Chip Todd.


1981 Peavey T-60
Initially the T-60 was only offered in a natural finish. Later models came with either a stained, sunburst, or painted finish.

The body shape featured two large horn-cutaways that were more exaggerated than those found on a Stratocaster. Unlike a Stratocaster, the body was not contoured. A common complaint is that the guitar was rather heavy. The body was made of “select hardwoods”, which was either maple or ash (whatever the builder selected from the stack of body blanks).

1981 Peavey T-60



The strings attached through the body, much like those on a Telecaster.




T-60  Neck and Headstock
The neck had a flatter profile than a Fender. Initially the necks came only with a maple fretboard. Later models came with a rosewood board. The T-60 neck also featured an aluminum nut built specially for this guitar.

The six-on-a-side headstock had a unique shape. It also had a triangular string tree.

The T-60 featured an adjustable torsion rod in the neck, to maintain straightness. This was covered by a plastic cover at the base of the headstock that was attached with a single screw. The T-60 also featured a neck tilt adjustment.

The torsion rod originally had a hook on its end to grab the wood and prevent the neck from slipping. It seemed like a good idea, but when the rod was adjusted the hook would bend, tear right through the wood, or straighten out. The hook feature had to be filled with epoxy on the initial models to allow the necks to be usable.

Back of T-60 neck revealing a Penny

The other issue involved the tilt mechanism. It was designed to rest up against a piece of metal. Peavey ordered metallic slugs to place in the routed out area at the end of the necks underside. The slugs were the same size as a United States Nickel coin.

While waiting on the shipment of slugs a nickel coin was used. Peavey decided it made more financial sense to use a Penny. If you own a T-60 with the neck tilt feature, and remove the neck, you may find a Penny.

'79 Toaster and '81 Blade pickups


The first edition of the T-60’s humbucking pickups were “toaster-like” models. These had blade magnets under the covers. Later models changed to a blade style, where you could see the blade.



Peavey T-60 Controls

The electronics for the pickups were very unique. Each pickup had it’s own volume and tone control, and of course a three-way pickup selector switch. A phase switch was also included. The phase control acted when both pickups were both engaged. It reversed the polarity In the bridge pickup.

The out-of-phase sound was rather hollow, and timbre could be altered by changing the positions of the volume and tone controls.

What were really unique were the tone controls. Each pickups tone circuit operated independently. When the potentiometer was fully turned to the #10 position, the pickup was in the single coil mode. Rotating the control counterclockwise to approximately the #7 position put the pickup into the humbucking mode. Further counterclockwise rotation engaged the tone capacitor. It was a most interesting feature.

1981 Peavey T-60

All of the metal parts for the T-60 were made in house and were very well done.  The bridge/saddle unit had a metal housing, and adjustable saddles that were similar to those on a Fender Stratocaster.


Most of the artists I recall using the Peavey T-60 were Nashville based session players that had gigs on television shows in the 1980’s.

Chet Atkins with The Peaver

Chet Atkins had a Peavey T-60, but it was modified by his accompanist/guitar tech, Paul Yandell.

Yandell removed the neck from Chet’s T-60 and replaced it with a wide Fender Stratocaster neck. He also took out the electronics and pickups from the guitar.


Paul crafted a new pickguard and installed two EMG single coil pickups in the middle and bridge position. A volume control was added for each pickup as well as a single tone control. Paul added the phasing switch.

The Peaver


This pickup position was used because it is practically impossible to get harmonics on a Fender stratocaster if the neck pickup is engaged. The placement of that pickup cancels out harmonics. Paul called this guitar "The Peaver". Chet used it on at least 14 different recordings because he liked the phased sound.





1979 Peavey T-40 bass guitar
The T-40 bass showed up the same year as the matching guitar. It weighed in at about 10 1/2 pounds, and had all the features found on the guitar, along with a long scale neck.

Much like the guitar, the original 1978 models were available in a natural finish, while subsequent models had either a stained, sunburst, or painted finish.


1984 & 1979 Peavey T-40's

Again, the original models had humbucking toaster pickups. Although the pickups had Peavey Super ferrite magnetic blades, they were hidden beneath the covers. By 1981 these were replaced with blade pickups.





Peavey T-40 Basses



The electronics on the bass model were the same ones featured on the T-60 guitar.





Inner shielding on a Peavey T-40


On both the guitar and the bass, the electronics were shielded with an aluminum lining.

Both the T-60 guitar and the T-40 bass are excellent instruments and can still be found on auction sites at more reasonable prices than many other similar instruments.

As a plus, these the initial price for these Peavey guitars included a hard-shell case. So most sellers include the case in their offer.

These were excellent instruments made 100% in the USA.

Click on the links below the pictures for the sources. Click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)







Categories: General Interest

Steely Dan Guitarist Walter Becker - His Life - His Guitars - His Guitarists

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 13:33
Steely Dan - Becker and Fagan
Some of the greatest songs from the 1970’s came from the “group” Steely Dan. Although for two years, Becker and Fagan toured as a group, most of their creations took place in the studio.  Becker originally played bass with the original group before switching to the instrument he loved; the guitar.



Walter Becker
Walter Becker cannot be defined as “guitar god”. All of the solos played on the recordings were done by studio pros. But Becker’s gift was songwriting, production, and the knowledge of what to leave in, what to leave out. Fagan did most of the vocals, and stands out as the front man, but Becker added more to the group than was ever acknowledged.


The foundation of the group was to write, and produce rock songs with a hint of rhythm and blues, and jazz. And they were very good at that.

Becker originally played saxophone, but took guitar lessons from his neighbor Randy Wolfe (aka Randy California of the group Spirit). Becker had a troubled childhood. He attended Bard College in New York, and it was there that he met fellow student Donald Fagan. Fagan heard him playing electric guitar and asked if he wanted to start a band. This prompted the two guys to begin writing songs together.

They originally played covers of some not-so-well-known songs, along with their own compositions. One of the drummers in this early group was comedy star Chevy Chase.

Jay and the Americans 1965
Both guys landed gigs in the touring band of Jay and the Americans. Jay Black, the groups front man, and lead singer, was a clean-cut, all-American, while Becker, and Fagan were left-overs from the “Beat” era. Becker and Fagan left when their salaries were cut in half by Black and his manager.



Streisand - I Mean To Shine
Barbara Steisand recorded a song written by Fagan and Becker called I Mean To Shine. After they determined they could make a career in the music business, the men moved to California and landed a deal as staff songwriters for ABC records. And it was there that Steely Dan became a band.

Along with Fagan and Becker were guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, drummer Jim Hodges, and singer David Palmer, who joined as a singer when Fagan was unable to overcome his stage-fright. They recorded a single called Dallas, that tanked.

Can't Buy A Thrill
It was not until 1972 when the LP, Can’t Buy A Thrill was released, that the band got any recognition. Among the songs were Reelin’ In The Years, Do It Again, and Dirty Work (sung by Palmer). Their second album Countdown to Ecstacy, released in 1973, was another hit and contained the FM hit Bodhisattva.



Pretzel Logic



Their 1974 album, Pretzel Logic, had the hit, Rikki Don’t Loose That Number. During this era, Becker and Fagan wanted to concentrate on writing and producing, so the did not want to tour.



Members of their band left and were replaced by session men, including Michael McDonald, Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour, sax player Phil Woods, bass player Winton Felder, and some members of the group that would go on to become Toto.

Aja
Subsequent albums were released including Kathy Lied and The Royal Scam, and finally Aja, which included such hits as Peg, and Deacon Blues.

The men were asked to write the music for a movie called FM, which became another hit song.

During most of 1978, Becker and Fagan took a break, but were writing songs for the album Gaucho.

Gaucho
That year Becker’s girlfriend died of a drug overdose in his apartment, which resulted in a lawsuit. During the same year Becker was struck by a taxi and his leg was shattered. Gaucho finally surfaced and contained the hit Hey Nineteen.

But internal disagreements caused  Steely Dan to disband in 1981.

Walter Becker moved to Hawaii and purchased an avacado farm. He also quit using drugs and became sober. Becker occasionally produced recordings for other artists, including Rikki Lee Jones.

In 1986 Becker and Fagan performed together on an album by Rosie Vela, and artist signed by their former manager, Gary Katz. The record was called Zazu.

Fagan's Kamikiriad
Becker went on to do production for Fagan’s solo LP Kamakiriad. In 1994 MCA records release Citizen Steely Dan, a boxed set of their recordings. Becker and Fagan went on tour to support the effort.

Subsequent tours took place in 2000 and 2003. Fagan continued to perform, sometimes with Becker.

Becker released his solo LP, Circus Money, in 2008.

Becker's Final Performance

The Steely Dan band played its final performance with Walter Becker on May 27th. Becker was supposed to join Fagan for more shows, but had to cancel for undisclosed reasons.


Becker passed away on Sunday, September 3, 2017, due to an undisclosed illness. He left behind an approximate net worth of $17.0 million. He leaves behind his wife Elinor and his two children.

Throughout his career, Becker's on stage guitars and basses were usually Gibson or Fender style instruments.

Becker with Epiphone acoustic


One of the earliest pictures shows Becker on an acoustic archtop Epiphone Broadway guitar.




Becker with Fender Bass
In the early days when Steely Dan was touring, the guitar parts were left to  Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, while Becker played bass.

Here is Becker with a modified PJ Fender bass. Baxter is playing the Telecaster.

Becker with Gibson Thunderbird bass


In a later photo from that era,  Becker is playing a modified Gibson Thunderbird bass.





Becker with a Sadowsky bass



We do not see many photos of Walter Becker playing an instrument until he and Fagan got back together in 1986.





Walter Becker - Grimes Guitar
Becker played a variety of guitars in the studio including this Grimes model jazz guitar.




Sadowsky Walter Becker Signature model
Becker was fond of guitars made by New York luthier, Roger Sadowsky. Here Becker plays his signature model. This guitar has a built-in preamp, with a gain switch.


This guitar also has a push-pull EQ control, and a 5 position slider switch to control its three P90 style pickups. Becker also has a similar model with twin humbuckers.

Hahn Telecaster

Becker also played an all mahogany Telecaster-style guitar made by New York luthier Chihoe Hahn.






Mid-2000 Fender No-Caster


Becker occasionally used a Fender mid 2000 relic'd No-caster in concerts.


Hahn Stratocaster Model


Becker played several Stratocaster-style guitars that were also made by Hahn Guitars.




Frye Guitar

Becker also owns and tours with a unique single pickup guitar made by Frye Guitars of  Green Bay, Wisconsin by luthier Ben Frye.



Sadowsky Strat-style
Walter Becker owned several Sadowsky guitars including this Silver stratocaster-style model that has three P90 style pickups, a built-in preamp, and EQ control.



Sadowsky Guitar
Another Sadowsky guitar is this one that was Becker's favorite studio guitar. It has two single coil pickups, and a bridge humbucker, and the EQ, and preamp features found on his other Sadowskys, but this one includes tune-able bridge saddles.

Blue Sadowsky Strat


Becker seemed to be very fond of Sadowsky Stratocaster-style guitars.




Sunburst Sadowsky Strat
Though the shape and contour of the Sadowsky guitaar a similar to a Fender Stratocaster, the cut on the sides of the Sadowsky guitars are not as beveled as one would find on the original Fender models

Kaur Banshee
Walter also owned and played a unique guitar that looks a lot like a Gibson Firebird, but it has a gold finish, and two P90 style pickups. It was made by Kaur Guitars of California, and is their Banshee model. This model came with Steinberger tuners.

Fano Alt de facto



Becker also owned and played a Fano Alt de facto RB6 guitar that is equipped with twin Lindy Fralin P90 style pickups and a unique "ToneStyler" control.







Becker's Flying Vee



Becker also owned, but seldom played a Gibson Flying Vee, which was based on the original 1958 model.





Dean Parks


As the early touring band only existed for around two years, most all of the groups music took place in the studio using session guitarists. These included Dean Parks, who is one of LA's busiest session men.




Larry Carlton

Probably the best known session player for Steely Dan was Mr. 335, Larry Carlton. Carlton's first appearance was on the song Daddy Don't Live In That New York City No More from the Katy Lied Album. Carlton reappeared on the groups fifth album; Royal Scam, where his excellent licks were on Kid Charlemagne. He was an important part of the Steely Dan sound.

Rick Derringer



A lesser known session player for Steely Dan was Rick Derringer, who appeared on the Katy Lied LP.






Jay Graydon


Another popular session player of that era was guitarist, Jay "Wah-wah" Graydon. The only track he played on was their hit Peg.




Hugh McCracken



Guitarist Hugh McCracken was hired to play rhythm on Kathy Lied.








Steve Khan


Guitarist Steve Khan played on both the Aja and Gaucho albums. For him it must have been like going back in time since he was an original member of Steely Dan.







Lee Ritenour

Jazz player and session man Lee Ritenour was also a session player called up for the Aja LP.







Chuck Rainey


LA Bass veteran, Chuck Rainey, was called up to do the bass guitar part on Peg.


Click on the links below the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for more information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)








Categories: General Interest

John Abercrombie - His Life and Guitars

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 08:20
John Abercrombie with a Les Paul
John Abercombie, passed away on August 22nd of this year. Abercrombie was a well-know, world class jazz guitarist, with a lyrical style that is hard to pin down to one genre. Abercrombie was aslo a composer and bandleader. His style changed and evolved throughout the years.

Born in 1944. Abercrombie took up guitar at age 14 and learned Chuck Berry, Bill Haley, and Fats Domino tunes. He later discovered Jazz by listening to Barney Kessel recordings.

Young Abercrombie
with 1920's Gibson L-4
John attended Berklee College of music where he gigged with other students at a local jazz club. It was there that he was invited to join a band made up of Hammond organist Johnny Smith, sax player Michael Brecker, and his brother, trumpet player Randy Brecker.


For awhile, Abercrombie shared a room with fellow student Jan Hammer.

When the gig with Smith ended, Abercrombie moved to New York and signed on to play in drummer Chico Hamilton's band. He was soon in high demand as a sideman.

Abercrombie attributed the beginnings of his style to Kessel, Wes Montgomery, and Jim Hall. He also drew inspiratation from Miles Davis and Bill Evans. John Abercrombie became one of the pioneering figures of Jazz/Rock, which he states was developed out of necessity due to lack of role models.

John Scofield, Bill Connors,
Steve Khan-John Abercrombie
In an interview he said, "I had to figure things for myself. I grabbed onto every device in my arsenal, including my knowledge of harmony and the guitar, the few little fuzztone or pieces of gear that I used at the time, and tried to fit it in. When I'd play with Jack and Dave Holland, or some other players, I responded to what I was hearing around me, and let the sound of it all teach me what I was supposed to do." (excerpted from an article by Ted Panken.)

Young Abercrombie
By 1969 Abercrombie joined a Jazz Rock band named Dreams, which featured the two Brecker brothers and drummer Billy Cobham.  Abercrombie played guitar on several of Cobham's albums. This band shared the stage with several prominent rock acts, including the Doobie Brothers.

At one point on the tour, Abercrombie decided this was not the direction we wanted to pursue for his music or life style.


He moved back to New York and became an in-demand session player, recording with Gato Barbeiri, Barry Miles, Manfred Eicher (who founded ECM records), and Gil Evans.

By 1974 he teamed up with college acquaintance Jan Hammer and drummer Jack DeJohnette for a recording called Timeless. This album was critically received and established a foothold for Abercrombie with ECM records.

Abercrombie with  the Gateway Trio
In 1975 he formed the band Gateway with DeJohnette and bassist Dave Holland, and recorded two albums Gateway and Gateway II.

After the Gateway albums Abercrombie altered his style to a more traditional Jazz style. He recorded several LP's and was leader of the group.

The Abercrombie Quartet, which recorded the LP of the same name and another simply called M.

Abercrombie went on to perform with the groups bassist, George Mraz and guitarist John Scofield. Abercrombie's style included Jazz Rock, Jazz Fusion, and plain, but very lyrical Jazz.

Abercrombie with an Ibanez Synth
In the mid 1980's he experimented with a guitar synthesizer in performance. From the 1990's to the 21st Century Abercromblie performed with an ever-changing group of players, settling usually on trios with a drummer and organist, though occasionally other instrumentation was added. Throughout his career he remained loyal to the ECM label.


Abercrombie with Guild Starfire


John Abercrombie played a variety of different electric guitars throughout his career. The earliest photo I can find shows him playing a Guild Starfire. Around the same time he was also playing a Guild F-50 acoustic guitar.




Abercrombie with his mandolins

Around 1976 Abercrombie says he was recording with Ralph Towner. and was looking for a different sound. He went to Manny's Music in NYC and found an old Fender 4-string electric mandolin.


He tried to play in fifths, the way most mandolins are tuned, but did not want to learn new fingerings. So ever since he has tuned it in fourths, as on  a guitar. Since then he acquired several more electric mandolins, that appear to have been made by Kevin Schwab of Minneapolis. Since his mandolins are tuned an octave higher than a guitar, Abercrombie refers to them as Piccolo guitars.

With Les Paul
Note Acoustic brand Amps
Early in his career, Abercrombie played several different Gibson Les Pauls.

At the time in his career he seemed to be partial to Gibsons, as he is seen here with a Gibson SG Custom.




Abercrombie with Sadowsky guitar
At some point early in his career, John Abercrombie became acquainted with luthier Roger Sadowsky.  Sadowsky had already made guitars for John Scofield. Abercrombie acquired a Telecaster style model with 3 pickups, two humbuckers in the bridge and neck position, and a single coil in the center.

This guitar had a Strat-style vibrato.

Abercrombie with a Sadowsky Tele



He later had Sadowsky build a more traditional Tele with a humbucker in the neck position and a single coil in the bridge.






Ibanez Synth Controller



By the mid 1980's John had began experimenting with a synth controller and synth that was provided by Ibanez.







With Ibanez Artist

Around the same time Ibanez provided him with two Artist 2619 model that he used for quite a few years. These guitars have been in the Ibanez catalog since 1976. He stated he preferred the Ibanez to his gold top Gibson Les Paul, which had small humbuckers. He also stated that the Ibanez pickups had a fatter sound.




With a Heritage Guitar



As John got older he discovered different guitars, including this Heritage solid body model.







With a Peter Coura Guitar


He also played an electric model made by luthier Peter Coura.









With a Soulezza Guitar


Around 2015 he had a headless guitar built for him from Spanish luthier, Fernando De Oleza, who creates extraordinary guitars under his brand, Soulezza Guitars.




With a McCurdy Guitar


Abercrombie also played a beautiful green guitar made by New York City luthier, Ric McCurdy. 





With Brian Moore DC1P


During Abercrombie's final years, he seemed to favour guitars made by Brian Moore. At first Abercrombie used a Brian Moore model DC1P. The body shape was similar to a Les Paul, however it had Moore's unique headstock, which has two strings on the top and four strings on the bottom.



Brian Moore -
John Abercrombie DC19.13USB
Many later photos show Abercrombie playing his own signature Brian Moore model DC1P.13USB John Abercrombie signature model. This guitar has a beautiful semi-hollow spruce top, mahogany back, and side, twin Seymour Duncan pickups, a unique 7 way switching system, Moore's back loading input system, and two very unusual F holes.

The guitars headstock has Moore's 2 on the bottom, four on the top tuning machine arrangement.

Acoustic Amp



Young John Abercrombie started out playing through amps made by Fender, Mesa Boogie, and the now defunct Acoustic Company.







Polytone Mini Brut



Later in life he preferred jazz style amplifiers like the Polytone Mini Brut.







Walter Woods Electracoustic

He also owned a Walter Woods amplifier. This was one of the earliest models of transistor amplifiers, and it was made for bass players.

Walter Woods amplifiers were class D, and had a very high output, from 120 to 1200 watts, which aided to project the bass signal. Despite the output, the amp itself was in a fairly small package. It needed to be paired to a separate speaker cab.

There are some videos of Abercrombie playing through a Carr Viceroy amplifier.

On the road Abercrombie preferred Roland Jazz Chorus amplifiers; either a JC-120 or a JC-77. He did not carry these with him, but in his contract rider, the club or facility where he was playing was required to rent one of these amplifiers.




Categories: General Interest

Glen Campbell - Some History and a Retrospective of His Guitars.

Sat, 08/26/2017 - 17:26
I'm dedicating this one to our own Glenn, my son-in-law. We nearly lost him in a tragic automobile accident on the very weekend I started writing this article. I am so glad you are still with us. You are a terrific father and husband. It will get better. Hang in there buddy.

Glen Campell on TV in 1965

The first time I saw Glen Campbell play was on a television show called Shindig It aired from 1964 to 1966, and it featured some top musical acts of that era.


Some of the Shindogs

The “house” band on the show were called The Shindogs and comprised of some of Los Angeles’ best session players, whose players alternated from time to time.




The band members included Glen Campbell, Joey Cooper, Chuck Blackwell (drums), Billy Preston, James Burton, Delaney Bramlett, Larry Knechtel (on bass), Leon Russell (on piano) Glen D. Hardin and bass player Ray Pohlman.

Glen Campbell rehearsing on Shindig!
Campbell was featured as a solo act on this show, singing and playing an unusual guitar that he seemed to favor. The guitar was a 1960 Teisco model T-60, that featured a set neck, and a hand carved body that had an unusual cut-out on the guitar lower bout and the headstock.

1960 Teisco T-60
It was equipped with 3 pickups that were made by the company, and a three-piece bridge/saddle unit that resembled the one found on early Fender Telecasters.

The metal pickguard covered much of the body. On it was mounted a volume and tone control and a 3 position rotary switch that chose the pickup. It would be a few years before Teisco (the Tokyo Electric Instrument Company) began flooding the US and European market with cheap electric guitars.

Campbell with The Wrecking Crew
Glen seemed to favor this guitar and used it during his days as a LA studio musician, with The Wrecking Crew. When he first made television appearances, he played this same guitar.


Glen was born into a family of 12 children, His father was a sharecropper. He grew up and lived in a town near Delight, Arkansas. He received his first guitar at age 4 and took to it immediately. Since the neck was not adjustable and the strings were high, his father fashioned a capo out of an old inner tube. His extended family included several musicians. He was fond of reminding people that he was the seventh son of a seventh son.

Glen on a Tele with his uncles band

At age 16 Glen dropped out of high school to pursue a career as a guitar player. His first job was with his uncle Eugene aka Boo, at a nightclub gig in Casper, Wyoming.




In 1956 they traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico in a group called The Sandia Mountain Boys, which was led by another Uncle named Dick Bills.

Within a couple of years, Glen Campbell had formed his own band called The Western Wranglers. By 1960 he moved to Los Angeles California and had a daytime job working for the American Music publishing company, writing songs and performing demo recordings. Word got out about this talented singer/guitar player and he was in demand.

Glen Campbell in The Champs
By October of that year he landed a job as a guitarist for The Champs who had recorded the 1958 hit,Tequila. Interestingly, the other Champs members at the time were Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts.

Around this same time, Glen Campbell was hired by several session producers to play guitar with other anonymous back up musicians that later were came to be known as The Wrecking Crew.

Glen Campbell in the Wrecking Crew
Campbell played on recordings for such well-known acts as Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson (Travelin’ Man), Dean Martin (he played on the hit Everybody Loves Somebody), Nat King Cole, The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra (These Boots are Made for Walking).

He aslo backed up Merle Haggard, Jan and Dean (Surf City), The Beach Boys (he played acoustic guitar on Be True to Your School, Pet Sounds and other recordings), Ronnie Dove, and Frank Sinatra. Phil Spector sought him out to play on some of his hits recorded by the Righteous Brothers.

Elvis, Priscilla, Campbell


Glen Campbell played on recordings for Elvis, striking up a friendship with The King. Both men came from the same humble Southern roots. Glen played guitar on many demo recordings for Elvis and on the album Viva Las Vega.





Campbell goes solo
By 1961, Campbell had left The Champs to pursue a solo career and was signed by Crest Record, which was a subsidiary of the music publishing company where he worked. His first recording, “Turn Around, Look at Me” peaked at #62 on the Billboard Hot 100 that same year. It later became a hit for The Vogues.

That same year Campbell formed another band called the Gee Cees with some of the members of The Champs and played at local clubs.

By 1962 he inked a deal with Capitol Records and had a minor hit with the song “Too Late to Worry, Too Blue to Cry”.

He continued to record and write music. However his forte at the time was the session work. He was featured on an incredible 586 recorded songs, despite the fact that he could not read music. He would have someone at the session sing or hum the part and he immediately played it “by ear”.

Not only did he play guitar, but doubled on banjo, mandolin, and bass guitar.

It was in 1964 that Campbell got into television, as a regular on several shows including a California series called Star Route, and the Shindig!, and another California series called Hollywood Jamboree.

Glen Campbell as a Beach Boy
Around this same time, Beach Boys founder and song writer Brian Wilson had succumb to a mental breakdown and quit touring with the band. The Beach Boys hired Glen Campbell to tour with them. For a year, Glen Campbell played bass guitar and sang harmony with the act.

In 1965 Glen Campbell finally had a a solo hit record with a song called Universal Soldier. This anti-war song (the US and allies were in the midst of the Vietnam War) was written by Buffy Sainte-Marie.

The following year, Campbell was hired again by The Beach Boys as a session player for their Pet Sounds album.

Rick Nelson and Glen Campbell 



Later that year he was hired to play bass guitar by Ricky Nelson on a tour of the Far East.




Campbell with Epiphone Zephyr
During his time as a session player, Glen played his Teisco guitar and an Epiphone Zephyr Deluxe.

It was in 1966 Glen finally struck gold when he was paired with songwriters Jimmy Webb and John Hartford.

He shared a friendship with both men throughout his life time.

Glen Campbell & John Hartford
John Hartford wrote and recorded Gentle on My Mind and Glen had heard Hartford's version. Campbell hired fellow session players to come into the Capitol Record studio and make a demo of him singing this song so he could pitch it to producer Al De Lory.

During the session, Campbell shouted directions to the players. He left the rough cut for De Lory to hear.

The next day De Lory listened to it and fell in love with the song and Glen's recording. De Lory immediately went to work on it, removing Glens directions to the musicians, but keeping Glens vocal and the music. Without telling Campbell, De Lory went ahead and released the song. It went on to become a mega hit for Campbell and won a Grammy for John Hartford.

In 1968 Campbell followed up with the song Wichita Lineman, which was penned and orchestrated by Jimmy Webb. Webb says he wrote the song as he drove through Washita County in southern Oklahoma.

The road was straight and seemed to go past endless lines of telephone poles. He saw a solitary lineman that was strapped at the top of one of these poles, doing repair work, causing Webb to think about the loneliness of this job. The phrase “singing in the wires” came from the vibrations induced by the electric current flowing through the lines.

Jimmy Webb and Glen Campbell
In his arrangement he tried to mimic this through the droning of the string parts and the sort of Morse code at the end of the verse. Webb had made a decision that Wichita Lineman had a better ring to it than "Washita" Lineman, so the songs working title was changed.

Campbell's recording was also produced by Al De Lory and charted for 15 weeks in 1968. It is listed among Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of 500 greatest songs of all time.

By The Time I Get To Phoenix
Campbell followed this up with two other Jimmy Webb songs; By the Time I Get to Phoenix, and Galveston. By the Time I Get to Phoenix was inspired by Webb’s break up with his girl friend. This song was originally recorded in 1965 by Johnny Rivers but failed to chart. Glen added it to his album in 1967.



Galveston
The song Galveston was Campbell’s follow up hit, released in 1969. Webb had written it as a war protest song during the Vietnam War years. During the Civil War the Battle of Galveston took place in 1863. I do not know if this battle influenced Webb. What I do know is that Webb imagined a soldier who had come to the realization that he was fighting for a cause that he felt was disingenuous.

Webb imagined the soldier thoughts and put them into these lyrics; "Wonder if she could forget me, I'd go home if they would let me, Put down this gun, and go to Galveston.

In 1968 Glen Campbell won 10 Grammys, three Hall of Fame Awards, a lifetime acheivement award, and the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year award.

Galveston - 45 rpm single
Hawaiian singer Don Ho introduced Glen Campbell to the song. However that profound verse was deleted and changed to; “I still hear your sea waves crashing, While I watch the cannons flashing, I clean my gun, and dream of Galveston.” This made it less of a protest song, more of a love song, and a number one Billboard hit for Campbell. This song came out in 1969.

Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour
Due to his popularity 1968 Glen Campbell was asked by CBS to be the summer time replacement host of the successful Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour variety show. The audience loved him and the following year he was invited to host The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.

This show debuted in 1969 and ran through 1972.

Jerry Reed and Campbell
Campbell introduced a lot of wonderful musicians on this show, including his friends Jerry Reed, John Hartford, Doug Dillard (the banjo player for the Dillards), and Mason Williams. Toward the end of the show, they would all sit together and play a few songs in the “Pickin’ Pit.


This show introduced a lot of people to Country Music that would not have listened to it otherwise.

Campbell also turned his talent to the movies, making appearances in one flick called Norwood, and the John Wayne movie, True Grit.

Rhinestone Cowboy
While touring Australia Campbell heard a tune by Country Music writer/singer Larry Weiss, called Rhinestone Cowboy. Campbell related to the song and upon returning to the United States took it to Capitol Record and recorded his version. It charted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. (For those not familiar with Nashville, Tennessee, Broadway is the street where you can find all the music clubs.)



Allen Toussaint Southern Nights
New Orleans pianist and song writer Allen Toussaint has left us with some incredible music. In 1975 he wrote a song based on the childhood memories of the evenings he spent with his Creole grandparents on the porch of their home.

He called the song, "Southern Nights".

Toussaint’s version was down tempo, thoughtful, and the lyrics are just plain beautiful. Songwriter Jimmy Webb loved the song and brought it to Glens attention. With the help of his friend, Jerry Reed, they came up with the guitar introduction that featured the treble strings playing a descending two bar passage, while at the same the bass strings played an ascending passage. Glen’s version was uptempo, and cheerful, and was another hit for him.

Later in his career Campbell continued to tour, had three failed marriages, a fling with Country Music singer Tonya Tucker and had battled substance abuse. Most of this occurred during the mid 1970’s,

Glen and Kim Campbell


Glen finally got the help, discipline, and understanding he needed when, in 1982, he remarried for the last time to his wife Kim.


Campbell recording with
The Stone Temple Pilots

During the 1990’s he became a successful performer, owning his own Goodtime Theater In Branson, Missouri. He still toured the world giving concerts, sometimes with symphony orchestras.

In 2008 Glen decided to record a project called Meet Glen Campbell. This featured some songs by Green Day, The Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, John Lennon, Lou Reed and others. Backing him on this recording were Wendy Melvoin, who played keyboards for Prince, Tom Petty, Rick Neilsen, and Danzig guitarist Todd Youth. In addition to others that sang background, were Campbell's own children.

Glen and Ashley Campbell
The Last Tour
In 2010 his doctor gave him the dreadful diagnosis that Campbell was in the early stages of Alzheimer disease. The following year, 2011, Glenn, his wife, and the three children from his marriage to her, embarked on his farewell tour. His three children comprised most of his back up band.

The tour was filmed and the results showed his regression as the disease ravaged his brain. Though he could no longer remember lyrics to songs, he did not forget how to play guitar.

Sadly, he went into the studio and recorded one last song called I’m Not Going To Miss You. The recording was backed by several of his friends that played in The Wrecking Crew.

Campbell passed away last week on August 8th when the disease robbed his brain of the ability to control his central nervous system. Throughout his career Glen Campbell used a vast collection of guitars. One of the first guitar companies to have a relationship with Campbell was The Ovation guitar.

Ovations similar to those that Glen played

Ovation guitars were a fairly new comer to the guitar market, having its start around 1965, with the development of an acoustic guitar with a round fiberglass back. Glen Campbell like the rugged concept of the guitar.



He encouraged the company to produce a model with an acoustic pick up, since he did not like to have a microphone stand in front of him.

He also did not think the guitar was loud enough. CEO Charles Kaman took his advice and obliged by having his engineers develop one of the best under-saddle acoustic transducer/pickups that was ever designed.

In a meeting with Campbell, Mr. Kaman gave him one of the first Ovation acoustic-electric Balladeer guitars. Campbell used this guitar, and many other Ovation guitars on his Goodtime Hour televsion show.

Campbell with
Ovation Glen Campbell model
Among those guitars were the Ovation Balladeer (this one was redesigned especially for Glen and designated The Glen Campbell model 1627), an Ovation classical acoustic electric model 1613, an Ovation acoustic electric 12 string model 1615.


Campbell playing an Ovation Toronado


He also several Ovation electric models, including a Tornado electric guitar.





Ovation Viper models



Campbell played an Ovation six and 12 string Viper models in a blue-burst finish that were referred to as Bluebirds.







Ovation Toronado
The Tornado guitar that Glen can be seen playing on his TV show is an interesting guitar. Ovation did not build the bodies. They were manufactured in Germany by the same company that made bodies for some Framus guitars. The pickups were made by Schaller, another Germany manufacturer. The bodies and parts were sent to the Kaman factory in Connecticut for assembly and bolt-on Ovation necks were added. Even after the TV series ran its course, and late into his career.

Campbell with Ovation Breadwinner
Glen also played an Ovation Breadwinner. This was a uniquely shaped guitar that essentially looked like a battle-ax. The body was made of mahogany, the neck was bolt on, and the electronics were active.

Campbell continued to play Ovation guitars at his concerts throughout his career.

Campbell with Mosrite
12 sting
I do not know how much of a relationship Glen had with Semie Moseley, the creator/builder of Mosrite Guitars. I know that Glen played several Mosrite guitars, including a 12 string electric, a Mosrite hollow body Ventures 12 string model, and a custom Mosrite Californian resonator guitar that had 2 pickups.

Semie Moseley of Mosrite took over the Dobro operation from the Dopyera brothers in 1966. Their factory was based in Gardena California.

The first instruments that Mosrite made were assembled from original Dopyera parts in the Gardena factory.

Campbell with Mosrite Californian Dobro
Later on Semi phased in his own components and concepts. This guitar was made with Dobro parts and a Mosrite neck and pickups. Glen's name is inlaid on the fretboard.

He owned two other Mosrite electric guitars and one rare Mosrite acoustic guitar.

1966 Mosrite Celebrity

One was a Mosrite Celebrity model. The body was made by Framus, the neck, pickups, and electronics were by Moseley. The vibrato was made by Framus.



Plainsman Dobro 



The other was a 1966 Mosrite Plainsman Dobro electric guitar. This one was made by Dobro. Semie Moseley added the pickup, electronics, and added a Mosrite neck.






Campbell with Mosrite Seranader
The acoustic model is a 1965 Mosrite Serenader. The body is solid spruce, the back and sides are solid mahogany. The dove tailed neck has the Mosrite headstock. The unique pickguard has a tortoise-shell appearance. Glenn owned two of these guitars.

Campbell with a Fender Bass VI


Campbell played a Fender Bass VI on Wichita Lineman, and Galveston.







Campbell with a Stratocaster
Much later in his career he routinely played a dark blue Fender Stratocaster. On one of the forums that I used to visit, a guitar tech said that one of Glen's guitar techs brought it into his shop for some quick repairs and adjustments. He commented on the forum that it was a great guitar. Glen also owned a Lake Placid Blue stratocaster, a black stratocaster, and a red strat with twin humbuckers.


Campbell 1956


You can see from one picture towards the top of the page, Glen started out playing a Telecaster that was equipped with a Bigsby B5.

This Tele had the Bigbsy as an add-on, longer before Fender offered this option in 1967. The photo is from around 1956. He is playing at a store that sells house paint.



Glen with a G&L Comanche


Glenn also owned and played a G&L Comanche, which was a strat-style guitar that had split pickups.



Campbell with his guitars
Glen owned and played so many guitars, it is difficult to mention all of them.

Glen owned several Martin guitars, one was a Martin N-20 classical model.



Campbell with Martin




The other was probably a Martin D-28, since the sides appear to be rosewood.







Campbell's Ovation Vipers
(Blue Birds)



Glen loved 12 string guitars. He played his is can be often seen playing his Ovation Viper 12 string.








Campbell with Hamer 12 string

Later played a beautiful Hamer 12 string electric guitar that he used in concert when he played Southern Nights.


Glen was an amazing guitarist and vocalist. In fact he is one of the most versatile guitarists ever.

As a session player he played on many of the Beach Boys songs, and also played on Frank Sinatra's classic recording of Strangers In The Night. He loved his family, and made a life with his music that many of us can only dream about.

He remained an incredibly talented man right up to the end. He will be missed.

Click on the links under the photos for sources. Click on the links in the text for more information.
©UniqueGuitar Blog (text only)

Glen plays an incredible solo on a vintage late 1950's Stratocaster in this video










Categories: General Interest

The Guitars of Roger McGuinn

Sat, 08/05/2017 - 19:09
Roger McGuinn
Roger McGuinn was born in 1942 and grew up in the Chicagoarea. His parents were journalists. They loved to read and were devoted to literary charities, even going so far as to have a book published.

James Joseph McGuinn, his given name went to The Latin School of Chicago. He became bitten with the music bug after hearing Elvis Presley sing Heartbreak Hotel.  

He begged his parents for a guitar.

Other childhood influences include Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins and the Everly Brothers. 


Old Town School of Folk Music


In 1957 McGuinn enrolled in Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music. It was there that he learned to play the five string banjo and got serious about playing guitar. By his graduation he was playing solo at various Chicagocoffeehouses.  




The Chad Mitchell Trio

His influences included several trio vocal groups including the Limeliters and the Chad Mitchell Trio, a group which he would later become a member.
Bobby Darin

McGuinn got a job playing guitar and singing background in Bobby Darin’s band. This job lead to him relocating to California and the Los Angeles music scene. It was in Los Angeles that he met future members of the Byrds.




The Brill Building


In 1962 Darin hired McGuinn with the thought in mind that Darin wanted to add some folk music to his career. These were the years that Folk Music had significantly gained in popularity. By mid 1963, Darin’s health began to fail and he retired from singing. He opened a songwriting and publishing office in New York City’s Brill Building and hired Jim McGuinn. 

McGuinn also found work as a studio guitarist and that same year was backing up Judy Collins and Simon & Garfunkel on their recordings.

The rumblings of Beatlemania and the British Invasion were about to take place. Within less than a year the Beatles American tour would commence. 

The Troubadour

McGuinn traveled back to Los Angelesand took a job at Doug Weston’s The Troubadour. Jim McGuinns act included folks songs that were played in a rock style. 

This caught the attention of Gene Clark. Clark befriended McGuinn and thus was formed the beginnings of the Byrds.

Eventually the duo found other like-mined folk/rock influenced member, Chris Hillman, David Crosby and Michael Clarke. The quintet began to perform at Los Angeles clubs. In January of 1965 they recorded the monster hit, Mr. Tambourine Man. 

The Byrds' version was much different than what the songs writer, Bob Dylan, had put down on vinyl.


Their version began with an amazing four bar guitar intro and outro that was played on a Rickenbacker 12 string guitar. This was a fairly recent instrument at the time and provided a very unusual sound. Part of that sound was dependent on the engineers use of compression technology. 

Members of the Byrds were dismayed by the fact that the only group member playing an instrument on the recording was McGuinn. 

This was typical of most major recording sessions. Studio time was expensive and record companies wanted ‘product’ out as soon as possible. And this track was being done at Columbia Studios.  


'65 McGuinn and producer Terry Melcher
Members of the Wrecking Crew, including Bill PIttman on guitar, Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on bass, and Leon Russell on piano, backed up Roger McGuinn, who played his 12 string guitar on Mr. Tambourine Man. 

The other members of the Byrds sang back up.

Members of the Wrecking Crew were hired to play on the hit instead of The Byrds members. The Byrds did their own vocals with McGuinn singing lead. 


Rickenbacker 360/12 string
In McGuinn’s words, “The Rickenbacker 12 string by itself is kind of thuddy. It doesn’t ring. But if you add compression you get that longer sustain. I found this out by accident. 


Teletronix LA-2A Compressor
The engineer, Ray Gerhardt would use compression on everything to protect his equipment from loud rock and roll. Two Teletronix LA-2A tube based compressors and the guitar signal was sent directly to the board. 

"That is how I got my ‘jingle-jangle’ tone. I was able to sustain a note for three or four seconds.”


The Byrds Eight Miles High

This came in handy with the Byrds next hit, Eight Miles High. It was in this song that Jim McGuinn attempted to emulate John Coltrane’s disconnected jazz riffs. He didn’t think this could be accomplished without such sustain.




Rickenbacker 360/12
McGuinn goes on to say, “I practiced eight hours a day on that ‘Ric,’ which worked out well. Acoustic 12 strings have wide necks and thicker strings that were spaced farther apart and were hard to play. But the Ric’s slim neck and low action let me explore jazz and blues scaled….I incorporated more hammer-ons and pull-off into my solos. I also translated some of my banjo picking techniques to the 12 string. 

By combining a flat pick and metal finger picks…I discovered I could instantly switch from fast single-note runs to banjo rolls and get the best of both world."



The Byrds
As a group the Byrds lasted two years, but played and recorded with other members and other differing names. The actual band officially called it quits in 1973. McGuinn went on to maintain an electric guitar band until 1981 when he decided to be a solo artist.




Roger McGuinn 2014
When James Joseph McGuinn started with the Byrds, he used his given nickname ‘Jim.’ Sometime in the mid 1960’s he started exploring spirituality and became involved with the Subud Spiritual Association. In 1967 the groups leader suggested if he was going to vibrate with the universe, he should consider a new name. 

Jim sent in a list of ten names that had to do with airplanes and science fiction

As Roger was the one actual name and the 18th letter of the 
alphabet that air pilots use when talking on the radio, that was the name McGuinn chose. 


Camilla and Roger McGuinn


Since then Roger and his wife Camilla have become Christians.





370/12RM

McGuinn’s first Rickenbacker was a two pickup model 360-12 that had a beautiful blond finish. He was fascinated by the guitar George Harrison played in Hard Days Night. Harrison’s guitar was bound on the front and the back of the body. It was done in a yellow-to red sunburst finish that Rickenbacker calls Fireglo. 

McGuinn could not find a Rickenbacker 12 string that had the pointier cutaways and top trim. He purchased the only available model and used it through his Byrds career.

This guitar was stolen and when he replaced it with a similar instrument. He states that in later years it showed up at an auction and sold for $100,000.

JangleBox Compressor
As he states, much of his sound is based on compression, for years Roger McGuinn was unable to replicate that sound on a live stage. 

Paul Kanter of the Jefferson Airplane suggest using a Vox Treble Booster. This was one of the first generation sound enhancers. The unit was small and plugged into a guitars input. 


McGuinn took the booster apart and installed in internally in his Rickenbacker. He states he tried other compression units, but could not get his sound until the Jangle-Box was invented.


Rickenbacker 370/12RM
McGuinn states that he has since he currently has a built-in compression unit onboard his triple pickup Rickenbacker 370-12RM that was designed by engineer, Bob Desiderio. As an aside he states that John Hall, the owner of Rickenbacker, allowed 1000 370-12RM models to be built and will not produce anymore to preserve their value.





Roland JC 120 Jazz Chorus

McGuinn currently uses the Jangle Box and a Roland JC120 amplifier to achieve his sound. 







Rickenbacker 360/12

McGuinn does his own string changes and set up on his guitars. Changing strings on a Rickenbacker 12 can be an all day task. McGuinn has produced a video to show how he changes strings and also how he makes neck adjustments.


Martin D12-42RM
Besides the Rickenbacker 370-12RM, McGuinn has other guitars he carries with him on tour.  The Martin Guitar Company has produced and provided two Roger McGuinn models. The first is a D12-42/RM 12 string guitar. This is an exquisite 42 model Martin with all the bells and whistles. Alas, it is no longer in production.


Martin also came out with a very unique model for McGuinn called the HD-7. This is a historic dreadnought style 45 Martin that has 7 strings. The unusual thing about this instrument is that an octave ‘G’ string is added to give the sound of a 12 string guitar, but the ease and convenience of a 6 string guitar.  

Roger frequently utilized single string runs to get his sound and this guitar does the trick.  It too is no longer in production, but is still available through some major music stores.

He was using a Fender Mastertone banjothat was given to him by Fender guitars when they were about to be acquired by CBS. He traded it to a friend for an old banjothat was made using Vega and Ode banjo parts.





During his days with Sweethearts of the Rodeo, he used a Gretsch Country Gentleman. He did not think the Rickenbacker 12 would fit into Country Music.


He states that he owns two Rickenbacker ‘Light Show’ guitars, but no longer takes them on the road. He owns a number of Rickenbacker guitars. He also owns a Martin 00-21.


Now in his 70’s, McGuinn only tours to theaters and performing arts centers stating they are well equipped facilities. He travels with his wife and enjoys getting in touch with fans all over the country.


The Rock Bottom Remainders
Roger is also part of a novelty band called the Rock Bottom Remainders. This is a group of writers, who would like to be musician and musicians and all are having a great time. 

The band was established by writer, producer and literary agent Kathi Kamen Goldmark.  

Over the years the Remainder has included among its members Dave Barry, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Cynthia Heimel, Sam Barry, Matt Groening, Greg Iles, Maya Angelou and Al Kooper.
 

Click on the links below the pictures for the sources. Click on the links in the text for more information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications




Categories: General Interest

Emerald Guitars

Sun, 07/30/2017 - 16:45
Alistair Hay

Alistair Hay grew up in the Irish seaside town of Creeslough, located in North West Donegal in Ireland. His father ran the family farm. His father was quite a craftsman and made whateve was needed by the family or at the farm. His father eventually took a job with an engineering firm as a designer and moved the family to East Donegal.




East Donegal Today
When the firm he had joined began to fail.  Mr. Hay set up his own business building products made from fiberglass that included boats, children's play equipment, and go karts.

As Alistair grew up, he went to work with at his fathers business where he learned about composites and fiberglass. This peaked Alistair’s interest in engineer and designing products mad
Royal & Prior - Athlone Tech

Alistair went on to attend Royal and Prior College, and the from compounds. Upon graduating he went on to attend Athlone Institute of Technology to study Polymer Engineering.

Seebold Sports Formula One Racing
After graduating, Alistair Hay had an opportunity to take a job with Seebold Sports, a company that builds fiberglass bodies, motors, and parts for racing boats. The owner of the company, Bill Seebold, became his mentor.

He encouraged him to follow his own path and find a career based on what he knew and enjoyed. Hay chose to work with carbon fiber; a subject of which he has amassed tremendous knowledge.

Steve Vai with Custom Emerald Ultra
In 1994, while still working at Seebold, Hay had an idea to build guitars from composite material. But he had no knowledge of luthiery. Hay played guitar and was fascinated by guitar players, especially Steve Vai. But had no knowledge of guitar construction.

Hay learned to build guitars by reverse engineering his own guitar. He made many mistakes during his learning curve. He developed a friendship with a skilled luthier that offered him instructions that became a tremendous help.

The First Emerald Guitar
 to leave the factory
By 1998 Alistair Hay was confident enough to start Emerald Guitars and offer his instruments for sale. He admits it was trial and error, and continual improvement until 2001. The first Emerald Guitars were offered to the public in 1999.

During those early years, Emerald Guitars had partnered with Parker Guitars in a deal to use their fret boards. This was a great partnership until Ken Parker and his partner sold Parker Guitars to the musical instrument conglomerate US Music.

Richie Sambora with
Emerald 
The sale created a real problem for Hay and Emerald Guitars, since US Music quit sending fret boards to Hays’ company. In 2008 Emerald Guitars was unable to fulfill any orders and had to shut down operations.

Steve Vai  with Emerald Ultra LP Cover




As stated, Hay states he was always fascinated by guitars and guitar music. He found inspiration from listening to an album by Steve Vai. And later Hay built 3 guitars for Vai.





Wang Leehom & Alistair Hay
with Tay Kewei's Emerald Guitar

In 2008, while traveling, Hay met a singer from Singapore named Tay Kewei. She was in a band with guitarist Wang Leehom, who is very popular in his country. Kewei was looking for a new guitar, so Hay built one for her with a unique body and headstock that resemble dragons.

Hay with a custom guitar
This creation inspired Hay to start building guitars again, and restart Emerald Guitars.

It was almost four years before Hay was able to redesign his molds to include a carbon fiber fretboard. By doing this, the company is no longer dependent on outsourcing. Since resuming production in 2012, Emerald Guitars has come with with quite a line up.  Their guitars are well made and by no means inexpensive. However they are built for a lifetime.

The Opus line is the most available. These guitars only come with a black finish. They come in a full line up of guitars, ukes, and a bass. There are options that can be added if desired.

Opus 7


The Opus 7 is a parlour sized instrument with a 24" scale. The overall length is 30", so it makes a great travel guitar.  The Opus 20 has similar accoutrements to the 7 model, but is a full sized guitar, with a 25 1/2" scale, and a 40" overall length.





Opus 20



The Opus 20 is offered for right or left handed players. Both instruments come with a gig bag, and pickups can be added at an additional cost.






Opus Chimaera
The Opus Chimaera is a double neck 6 and 12 string instrument. Both necks have a 25 1/2" scale, and the instrument weighs less than a Fender Stratocaster; only 6.3 lbs (3 kg).

Emerald Synergy Opus 7 and Synergy Opus 20 Harp Guitars
Emerald Guitar's forte is their harp guitars. Not a lot of companies specialize in harp guitars. For their Opus line, Emerald offers two instruments. The Snyergy Opus X7 pairs a 24" scale guitar neck with six bass strings that jut out of the upper bout and are attached to the top of the instrument. The overall length is 37 1/2". A few years ago, one of these instruments was being offered as a test guitar to anyone who signed up and agreed to pay $45 to keep it for a week and then ship it to the next person that wanted to try it out.. This guitar is acoustic, but a pickup can be added.

The Synergy Opus X20 is a full sized harp guitar, with a 25 1/2" scale on the guitar neck. It too has six bass strings, and a pickup system is an upgrade-able option. Both harp guitar come with a gig bag.

Balor Bass Opus
For bass players, Emerald offers the Balor Bass Opus. This is a five string, 34" scale acoustic bass guitar that can be upgraded to add a pickup. It comes with a padded gig bag, and Gotoh GB707 bass machine tuners.

Emerald keeps limited stock on hand for all their instruments, so check this link to the companies web site to see what is on hand.



Emerald Artisan Chimaera
in Wooded Bubinga

Emerald Guitars also offers their Artisan Line, which are custom, made-to-order hand built instruments. These include the L.R. Baggs Element active pickup system in the cost



The instruments are offered in your choice of these colours; black, blue, green, red, and amber. The guitars are sized much like the Opus series, X7, X20, the Chimaera six/12, and both Synergy series harp models.

Emerald Amicus Artisan models
Added is the Amicus Artisan model, which is a 12 string guitar, with a short 18" scale length. It is meant to be tuned down one whole step from standard E tuning. All Artisan models come with a deluxe padded gig bag.



Custom Shop X20 Woody Cocobolo


And if you want more, Emerald Guitars can create the guitar of your dreams through their custom shop.







Alistair with custom creation



If you want to, Alistair Hay will personally design and build and Emerald Guitar to your specifications.







Emerald custom made "Cello" Guitar

Such was the case with this custom guitar that he built for someone that wanted a nylon string guitar that resembled a cello. Click on the line below the picture to learn about this amazing creation.


Click on the links below the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for more information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)






Categories: General Interest

Eric Johnson's 1957 Fender Stratocaster

Sat, 07/22/2017 - 10:34
Eric Johnson's 1957 Fender Stratocaster
I was recently made aware that Eric Johnson sold one of his favourite guitars. This was his 1957 sunburst Fender Stratocaster. The guitar was offered through Gruhn Guitars of Nashville.

There are probably very few Stratocasters of that era left in such pristine condition.

1957 Fender Stratocaster

Johnson purchased this guitar in 2001 to use mainly in his home.

The original bridge and middle pickup were replaced, as were the tuners, and frets.

The original tuning machines, frets, pickup, and back plate were placed in the guitar case and included in the sale.



Eric Johnson Stratocaster



Johnson eventually took this guitar on the road, and used it for the past nine years.  This strat became his touring guitar of choice.






1957 Strat serial number


The guitars serial number is 17882. Fender guitars made in 1957 have five digit serial numbers starting at 17000 and ending in 25000. The guitar has the original spaghetti logo. 






Eric Johnson's 1957 Stratocaster
It is a lovely instrument and has been sold for $60,000 USD.

 All information from the Gruhn Guitars website.

(Unfortunately I am unable to find a video of Johnson playing this guitar.)



Categories: General Interest

Doctor Who's Guitar

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 17:43
Doctor Who
I have been a fan of the British television series, Doctor Who, for many, many years. For the past two years, the Doctor has been played by Peter Capaldi, who has done a wonderful job in the role as the Time Lord. In fact he is my favorite incarnation of the Doctor.

William Hartnell, the 1st Doctor

For those who are unfamiliar with the show, the original Doctor Who was played by actor, William Hartnell from 1963 to 1966. Due to his poor health, he resigned from the series.

The show is about Doctor Who, a Time Lord, who is from another world, who travels throughout time and space in his craft that is disguised to resemble and old British Police call box. He usually travels with one of more companions. In doing so he solves problems, and sometimes changes the course of history. The older episodes had delightfully quirky special effects, For the past decade, the writing, effects, and backgrounds are all wonderful

Because of the shows popularity, the writers decided that the Doctor would occasionally be regenerated, through elaborate visual effects, and then morph into a different person, that would still be The Doctor, but have a different body (and be played by a different actor). This allowed the show to continue, remain fresh, and attract a larger audience.

Peter Capaldi, as Doctor Who
Peter Capaldi was cast as Doctor Who in 2013, as the Twelfth Doctor Who, when actor Matt Smith left the series. It was recently announced that Capaldi would be stepping down this years and would be replaced on a special show to air during the Christmas season.

In fact, the new Doctor is to be named on the same day I am writing this article; July 16th, 2017.

Peter Capaldi as Dr. Who playing guitar
You may be asking, “What does this have to do with unique guitars? Well Capaldi is the first Doctor ever to play guitar during the series, and he does a bang-up job.



Doctor Who on guitar with Clara
The 60 year old actor probably grew up listening to some of the same music of the ‘60’s, ‘70’s, and ‘80’s that many of us have, and it certainly shows in his playing.



Dreamboys - 
Capaldi in front Ferguson in back
Back in the mists of time Capaldi, now the Time Lord, was in a rock band called Dreamboys – formerly The Bastards from Hell – with comedian and talk show and game show host Craig Ferguson.

Capaldi stated, “I was really delighted to open the script and find the Doctor playing guitar”. “I think I’d sort of half mentioned it in joking, but I was really delighted that these guys went for it as an idea.”

Doctor Who with his guitar


He also revealed that – just as when he hand-picked the Twelfth Doctor’s costume – he had a say in which axe he’d be wielding.



Denmark Street London, music shop

“We had a great day when I went to pick the Doctor’s guitar,” he recalls. “We went to Denmark Street and went to various vintage guitar shops, looking for Doctor Who’s guitar.


And at first I thought it should be like a Stratocaster or a Telecaster, one of those old classic guitars, but they all started to look like I was having a midlife crisis.” “We ended up with a guitar that looked like a Fender Stratocaster that had been described to someone who had never seen one.”

Yamaha SVG300



The guitar chosen was a Yamaha SVG300. This is an offset guitar that was made by the company from 2000 to 2007 and is based on the Yamaha SG reverse cutaway design first seen in 1966.




Yamaha SVG 300

The SVG300 came with a single coil pickup in the neck position, two single coils in the bridge position that can be set out of phase, for a humbucking sound. The electronics include a single volume control, a master tone control, and a blend control for the bridge single coil pickups There is also a three position pickup selector switch.

Yamaha SVG 300

The body is made of alder, and the bolt-on maple neck features a rosewood fretboard with 22 frets, and a 24.75” scale. The narrow six-on-a-side headstock comes with Yamaha die cast tuning machines.


The string attach on the body to a Yamaha roller style bridge. The input is located on the lower edge of the body.

Doctor Who


The Doctor’s guitar is finished in black and gives he impression of a very futuristic looking instrument.



Here are Dreamboys with Peter Capaldi and Craig Ferguson

Categories: General Interest

Collings Guitars - The Passing of Bill Collings

Sun, 07/16/2017 - 15:46
Bill Collings
Collings guitars got its start in Houston Texas, when Bill Collings began working in a machine shop back in 1970. He began building his first guitar in 1973.

Bill Collings in the 1970's

By 1975 he was working as an engineer with a pipeline
and oil field company. At night he continued building guitars.

Lyle Lovett with a Collings Guitar
He developed a reputation among local musicians and caught the attention of Lyle Lovett, who asked Collings to build a guitar for him



By the early 1980’s Bill decided to move to California, but he never got farther than Austin Texas.

It was there he met fellow luthiers, Mike Stevens, and Tom Ellis. Ellis built handcrafted mandolins. Collings began working with them, but after a few years before he moved into his own shop which was in his garage.

Bill Collings in his shop

It was in 1987 when Nashville based vintage guitar collector/seller George Gruhn hired Bill Collings to make 25 guitars for his shop. This had a wonderful impact on Collings reputation.


1989 Collings made for Gruhn
Shortly after his products were soon requested by music stores and featured in magazines.

By 1989 Bill Collings was able to hire his first employee. Since then Collings guitars have become one of the most recognized and respected instrument manufacturers in the business.




Collings Acoustics

Their forte is acoustic guitars, but they also build  archtop guitars, mandolins, and ukuleles.



2006 Collings City Limit



In 2006 the company moved into the electric guitar market and were featured at that years Summer NAMM, National Association of Music Merchants convention.




2006 Collings OM


As of 2012 the company employees 85 people and manufactures six acoustic guitar, three electric guitars, two mandolins, and two ukuleles per day. In fact Collings Mandolins are highly regarded in the Bluegrass community.





2014 Waterloo WL-14L

By 2014 it was announced that the company would be making a guitar based on a currently popular Depression-era design and resemble Kalamazoo guitars of that era.  These guitars are sold under the "Waterloo" brand and are based on an old guitar that Collings had sitting in his office.




Colling WL -14 -  Kalamazoo Sport

He decided to repair the instrument by removing the back and put new bracing in it. After reassembling it, he realized these old guitars had a much different sound than that of today’s instruments due to their construction and size. The brand has become a success with Blues and Country players looking for that old tyme sound.


Bill Collings 1948-2017
Sadly the following statement was just issued on the Waterloo Guitars website:

”We lost our dear friend and mentor Bill Collings yesterday. He was the amazingly creative force behind Collings Guitars for over 40 years. Through his unique and innate understanding of how things work, and how to make things work better, he set the bar in our industry and touched many lives in the process. His skill and incredible sense of design were not just limited to working with wood, but were also obvious in his passion for building hot rods. 

To Bill, the design and execution of elegant form and function were what mattered most. Perhaps even more exceptional than his ability to craft some of the finest instruments in the world, was his ability to teach and inspire. He created a quality-centered culture that will carry on to honor his life's work and legacy. He was loved by many and will be sadly missed. Our hearts are with his family.”

William R. Collings  8/9/1948 – 7/14/2017.

Click the links under the pictures for the sources. Click the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)





Categories: General Interest

Eastman Guitars

Sat, 07/15/2017 - 08:22
The Seldom Scene on Jubilee
One of the best quality Chinese made guitar are now being used by some major industry guitarists. I’m referring to Eastwood guitars. I don’t watch a lot of television, but when I do I find myself gravitating to music shows. And in my part of the world, there are a lot of shows about Bluegrass music.

'53 Martin D-28 - '23 Gibson F5


Traditionally Bluegrass music is played on an old Gibson F-5 mandolin and a Martin guitar, preferably a D-28 or a D-18. But in the past few years I’ve noticed a change. Players are now using Asian made guitars and mandolins.




Perhaps it is because the price of Martin and Gibson instruments are beyond the reach of many working class players, or possibly it is because the value of a well made instrument is not worth the risk of taking on the road only to have it stolen. In any event the quality of some of these guitars currently being made in Asia is excellent.

1957 Guyatone LG-50H

Going back historically we know Japanese musical instrument builders that began building guitars back in the 1920’s and 1930’s for domestic use. In the late 1950’s some of these companies started building electric guitars, not just for domestic use but for import.


1960 Teisco


By the 1960’s, due to the popularity of Folk music, then the music of the British Invasion, importation of cheaply made, Asian imported guitars skyrocketed. In doing so they gained a negative reputation, since the quality of those instruments were inferior to the Fender, Gibson, Gretsch, Guild guitars, and even Harmony and Kay guitars that were produced at the time.




1978 Ibanez Iceman JC 210
But by the mid 1970’s the quality of Japanese and Korean made guitars had greatly improved. Some of these companies, such as Ibanez and Takamine were building acoustic and electric guitars of superior quality that rivaled the USA made instruments that these guitars copied.

In 1977 a lawsuit ensued that was instigated by Gibson guitars against a company called Elger Music, who was the US agent of Ibanez guitars. The suit was brought about partly due to the much improved quality of these copy guitars. The parties settled the suit before it went to trial and the results caused a great change in the way Asian made guitars were to be made in the future. Though these instruments now had similar features to Martin, Gibson, and/or Fender guitars, there needed to be some originality added.

Gibson v Elger Co.
At first the results of the lawsuit may have meant just a change to the headstock design.  However through the years Asian engineers and designers have come up with original ideas and improvements to their guitars.

The results have ostensibly put their instruments on par with guitars made in Western countries.

Qian Ni
Founder Easman Music Company

As stated at the onset Eastman Musical Instruments are building high quality musical instruments. The company is a relative newcomer to the musical instrument manufacturing business. They began in 1992, when a man named Qian Ni visited to the United States to study violin making. At that time, the Chinese were using the factory line way method of manufacturing musical instruments. Ni discovered that a different approach was needed to build violins.

He implemented a handcrafting method of building violins and bows in a manner similar to that of 19th century European violin workshops. This change resulted in a much improved tonal quality.

After this Mr. Ni established workshops to further this art. He states that early on, “I would load up his car with instruments that his workers made and drive from city to city selling them to violin shops and music stores. Those shops that did not buy his instruments gave me excellent advice.” This is almost verbatim the same story I have read about Robert Godin during his early days of building his instruments.

Eastman Strings
Now Eastman Strings is a world class company building stringed and bowed instrument for players of all ranges and abilities.

By the early 2000’s, Mr. Ni applied similar principles to crafting the guitar, and by 2004 his company, Eastman, had started a line of archtop electric guitars.


Eastman E20D guitar
and MD515 mandolin
A few years later his craftsmen applied this same approach to building flat top guitars and mandolins. I have seen several Bluegrass and Country player using an Eastman acoustic guitar. Like the Eastman Strings bowed instrument line, their acoustic flat top models come in models for intermediate players and pro's.




Eastman Guitars
Most of the wood used on Eastman guitars is grown in the United States. This has lead to a controversy since the State of California does not require guitars assembled offshore to be labeled with the country of origin, as long as the wood used is domestically grown.

Eastman guitars and other Eastman musical instruments are made in China.

Eastman AC-DR1
Unlike most guitar companies the wood used on even Eastman's less expensive models is solid. Though there are several models with a suggested retail price of $250 to $350 that have laminate back and sides.

Some of the intermediate models with a suggested price in the $650 ranges are made using a solid Sitka spruce top and solid sapele back and sides, while others have laminated rosewood back and sides. I find that outstanding since most

These models come in Dreadnought, Orchestra, Grand Auditorium, Grand Concert, Double O, and Parlor guitar sizes.

Where Eastman Guitars really excels is in their Archtop Jazz line of guitars.

Eastman solid carved archtop guitars

There fifteen electric models to choose from and one acoustic archtop guitar. They all have a solid hand carved top and back. Most feature a Kent Armstrong floating pickup. These guitars have a suggested retail price of $2050 to $3750 USD which includes a hard shell case.



Eastman solid carved top archtop guitars

There is also a line of six "Solid Carved Top" guitars, that have laminate back and sides that sell in the range of $1450 to $2300 USD. Most come with Kent Armstrong pickups, however two models have TV Jones Filtertron pickups.

Eastman Guitars also makes ten all laminate models. All laminate sounds bad, but consider the Gibson ES-175 has always been a guitar made of maple/poplar/maple laminate.

Eastman laminate models

Six Eastman models are based on the Gibson ES-175. Three models have a similar body shape to the Gibson ES-350, but have a single Kent Armstrong pickup. Two models are similar to the Gibson ES-125 and have a single Kent Armstrong P-90 pickup.



Eastman also offers a line of four unique archtops designed by two of the world's cutting edge luthiers and one series of guitars designed by jazz guitarist John Pisano.

John Pisano Line-up

Pisano's line includes four models ranging in price from $1600 to $3750 USD.



Eastman Pagelli models

Eastman also has two models designed by luthiers Claudio and Claudia Pagelli. The Pagelli's have been building amazing guitars in their own unique style since 1982. Eastman offers two models that were designed by the couple.



Otto D'Ambrosio began working at the Mandolin Brothers music store located on Staten Island New York when he was only 13 years old.  He learned the craft of repairing and restoring fine musical instruments, and then began building his own guitars.

Eastman El Rey models
Around 2004, he designed a new model that he called The El Rey. This was a hollow body electric guitar with no sound holes. A year later he traveled to Beijing, China and licensed the design to Eastman guitars. Two of the Eastman El Rey models do have F-holes. The El Rey models have retail prices range from $1925 to $2350 USD.

Frank Vignola model
The last signature archtop model that Eastman makes in the Fank Vignola signature guitar, This guitar was based on Vignola's guitar that was designed by Utah based luthier, Ryan Thorell and based on Thorell's FV Studio model, which has a base price of $8500. However the Eastman version is about one-third the price, at $2995. The difference between the Eastman Frank Vignola models and the Thorell version is the pickup. The Eastman version includes a Seymour Duncan Johnny Smith floating pickup.

Other features include an ebony fretboard with no position markers, a very unusual sound hole on the lower bout, a sound port on the guitars upper side, and a slotted headstock. This guitar also features a beautiful ebony pickguard.

Ryan Thorell FV Studio guitar
These are all the same features found on the original Thorell verion, but the Eastman guitar is manufactured in China.

You can order the Eastman FV guitar direct from Frank Vignola and Ryan Thorell, for $2495 and Ryan will set it up for free. Click on this link for the phone number.

Most all Eastman guitars come with either a hard-shell case or a gig bag.

There are currently only a handful of stores in the United States that stock Eastman guitars

Click on the links under the pictures for the source. Click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)






Categories: General Interest

The Amplifiers Used On Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Sat, 07/01/2017 - 08:38
Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
This year marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP. There is currently a wonderful television program that goes into great detail about the production and history of each song.

Sargent Pepper recording session
While much of the music was done on keyboard and string instruments, McCartney’s bass, and some guitar is featured on the recordings.  The TV special mentioned said little about the guitars and nothing is noted about the amplifiers used on the album.


Paul McCartney with 1967 Bassman
The television program showed  only one amplifier; the Beatles’ blonde 1964 Fender Bassman. Aside from the Vox AC30, we know this Bassman amplifier was used on many of the Beatles albums.

We know that McCartney first used this amp in 1965 and continue to use it until 1967 in the recording studio.



After that Lennon and Harrison both put that Bassman to use.  Lennon continued to use it in the studio on some of his solo work. This Fender Bassman was the 1964 6C6-B circuit and featured twin Utah 12” speakers. It was a similar circuit to the one used on in the same era Bandmaster.

Beatles with Vox AC30's
The Beatles and many other British groups preferred to use Vox amplifiers since they were readily available and less expensive than imported United States brands, such as Fender. The Vox AC30 was perhaps the most used by the Beatles during their early days.

1964 Vox AC30

The Vox AC30 was a 30 watt class A amplifier, which technically speaking is very inefficient, because the power tubes are operating at full power. However class A is very pleasing to the ear and makes for a great performing amplifier.


The Vox AC30 had cathode biasing and no negative feedback loop. In my opinion the AC30 is one of the best amps ever made.

Despite the popularity of Vox amps in the U.K., the company was facing financial difficulties as early as 1964.

Jennings and Denney
Vox' manufacturer was JMI or Jenning’s Musical Instrument and run by Tom Jennings along with musician/guitarist/amplifier designer Dick Denney. In 1964 the partners had sold the company to a conglomerate called The Royston Company. Both men maintained posts in the organization through 1967 at which time they left the company. Perhaps the two men saw the writing on the wall, as the following year Royston filed for bankruptcy.

Some of the former JMI employees cut a deal with the bank that held the assets and they were able to procure the Vox name. Vox equipment was then produced under the name Vox Sound Equipment until 1969 when yet another bankruptcy ensued.

Vox Birch Stolec AC30
A company called Birch Stolec Industries purchased Vox from the holding company. One of the sales managers for this company was none other than Rick Huxley, the bass player for the Dave Clark Five. This firm built Vox amplifiers which included printed circuit boards and also produced some solid state versions of Vox amplifiers.

But let’s back up to before 1967 when Sargent Pepper was being made. Even before that date, when the Beatles and other bands were touring, as early as 1964, the folks at Vox realized the AC30 at full volume was not going to cut through the screams of the female fans. So they investigated producing a larger version.

Vox AC50 MKII


They had already come up with the AC50 MKII that McCartney can be seen using in concerts. (He still uses this amp today.)




Vox AC100


What they came up with was the Vox AC100 aka the Vox Super Deluxe. This was a a one channel amplifier that came with a large speaker unit, which contained four 12" Celestion speakers. It was Vox' answer to the Fender Dual Showman amplifier. The Beatles can be seen using this amp in concert footage.



Later in 1964 JMI reached an agreement with the Thomas Organ Company of the United State that they would be the sole US distributor for Vox. This may sound like an odd arrangement, if not for the fact the JMI was once known as the Jennings Organ Company. It may have been short-sighted of the former Jennings Organ Company to believe a US organ manufacturer would be a great vehicle to distribute Vox amplifiers. But during the guitar boon era, many companies were trying to get a piece of the pie.

US made Vox Super Beatle
Once Thomas Organ inked the deal they realized that JMI/Vox was not capable of manufacturing an adequate number of amplifiers to make the deal profitable. Thomas Organ, not at all happy about the situation and proposed a deal that they become licensed manufacturers of Vox amplifiers in the United States and Canada. Probably due to the financial situation at JMI, they agreed.

This is how the US Vox Super Beatle and other US amplifiers came to be made by the Thomas Organ Company aka Vox US.

Dick Denney traveled to the USA in 1965 to visit the Thomas Organ/VOX US manufacturing facility to see their products first hand. He was impressed with their solid state amplifiers. This lead him to come up with his own solid state/tube hybrid versions.

The guitar amps that Denney designed were called the UL7 series and the bass versions were the UL4 series.  UL was suggestive of Underwriters Laboratories, a group the put its approval on electronic merchandise.

Vox UL705




The UL705 was a 5 watt amplifier,while the UL710, and UL715 produced 15 watts. Both had solid state preamps, with tube based power amplifier sections.




Vox UL730
In 1966 a Vox UL730 was delivered to Abbey Road Recording studios for The Beatles use.

The power tube (or valve) selection of the UL730 included one ECC83 and a quartet of EL84 tubes. The ECC83 is actually a preamp tube, but was used as a phase inverter.



Vox UL730


The UL730 was a two channel amplifier with two inputs per channel, a boost switch for each channel. Channel One featured volume, treble, middle, and bass potentiometers, and controls for tremolo speed and depth.


Vox UL730 front panel
A distortion control was included in this channel. Channel Two included the volume, treble, middle, and bass controls, and added a reverb control.

The separate speaker cabinet was loaded with twin 12” Celestion speakers. Of course the amplifier featured the trolley.

The Beatles session
with the UL730


Vox manufactured only 100 units. This was not a popular amplifier since out of the 100 units sold, 76 units were returned. Some may have been defective, while others were exchanged for another amp of the era. The 76 units that were returned were said to have been destroyed.




Harrison's UL730

The amplifier that was delivered to the Beatles included a promotional sticker inside of it that stated it was “Promotional Stock - Model No. 760 Amp A/C Current - Serial # 3020 - Artist The Beatles”.


It is said to have been in George Harrison's procession and was to be auctioned on 12/15/2011, but the seller withdrew the offer prior to the sale date.

Vox single spring reverb
This was likely the amplifier that the Beatles used on the Sargent Pepper recordings. The UL730, and most Vox amplifiers included the Vox single spring reverb since Tom Jennings did not want to pay Hammond the $1 per unit royalty for use of their 3 spring version.


To avoid this fee he and Denney came up with their own reverb design.

McCartney using UL730

During the albums creation, McCartney played his Rickenbacker 4001S bass through it on most of the songs. Although it is said that he employed the UL430 bass amp on Lucy In The Sky.



Vox UL430
The UL430 was essentially the UL730 with no effects except for the boost switch. Other than that the tube compliment, speakers, and electronic design were similar. These amps look different from the VOX AC design. The UL amps, except for the UL705 feature controls in the front of the amplifier unit. They all still had the signature Vox grill cloth fabric. The UL730 and its companions are a part of our unique guitar history.

In addition to the Bassman and the Vox UL730, The Beatles utilized a 1967 Fender Showman amplifier that was in the studio.

1967 Fender Showman
The 1967 Fender Showman was a black faced and from the final year Fender made black face amplifiers. The amp had an 85 watt  head. The cabinet was loaded with a single 12” JBL speaker. The preamp section was made up of two 7025’s and the power tubes included a quartet of 6L6’s.

It is also written that Paul McCartney used a Selmer Thunderbird Twin 50 MkII on Good Morning, Good Morning, which he may have used early in The Beatles career.

Selmer Thunderbird Twin 50 MKII
The Selmer Thunderbird was finished in what is called “croc-skin”. The preamp and power amp were housed in the cabinet. The amplifier had two inputs, a“Selectortone” push button tone control feature, along with tremolo and reverb contols. This amp came with a stand to raise it off the floor.

1967 Vox Conqueror/Defiant
 Several other sources say that the Beatles used a Vox Conqueror on Sargent Pepper. The Conqueror was the completely solid state amp that replaced the UL730. This 30 watt two channel amp featured germanium transistors. The channel controls were mounted on top of the head and featured a normal and a brilliant channel, while the effects controls were mounted on the amplifiers front panel.

Both channels featured volume, treble, and bass potentiomers and a boost switch. And both had two inputs.

1967 Vox Conqueror
top and front pane
l
The front panel for the effects  had controls for tremolo speed and depth, as well as a reverb section that allowed reverb on channel one, off, or channel two. It also included a MRB switch that selected tone boost frequencies.


The Vox Conqueror came with a modified trolley that contained the speaker unit only. The head stood on top of the speakers.

Vox Defiant
Vox also made a similar amplifier called The Vox Defiant. The Defiants head was slightly larger than the Conqueror. In fact at first look it resembled the Conqueror. However the Defiant pushed 50 watts instead of 30 watts.  The Defiant amp was featured in the background of a promotional photo for Sargent Pepper. But for the promo video I do not know if this amp was used on the record,

The Beatles also used two other Vox amplifiers; the 7120 and the 4120 bass amp, which they had used on the Revolver LP.

Vox 7120

The 7120 was the most powerful amplifier that Vox had produced. This was another hybrid amp, with a solid state preamp section and a tube power amp section, which consisted of four KT88 power tubes and an EL84 and an ECL86 which acted as phase inverters. It was rated at 120 watts. It utilized one ECL86, one EL84, and a quartet of KT88’s. The amplifier had two channels.



Vox 7120
Channel One was the vibrato channel and had two inputs, a boost switch, a volume, treble, middle, and bass control, along with a tremolo section with speed and depth, and a reverb section, and a distortion control.

Channel two featured two inputs, a boost switch, volume, treble, middle, and bass controls, and a reverb control.

Vox 7120

The 7120 speaker cabinet had two 12” Celestion T 1225 speakers and two Goodman midax horns. The controls on the amplifier section were on the bottom of the amplifier head.



Vox 4120
The Vox 4120 bass amplifier was very similar in the amplifier section. However it lacked the effects associated with the 7120. Everything else was the same. The speaker compliment was quite different. The amp had four 12” Alnico Celestion speakers and two Goodman Midax high frequency 17 watt horns. The 4120 also had an output of 120 watts, It was made for only one year; 1966.

McCartney with a Vox UL730, Harrison and Lennon with Vox Defiant amps


This photo is from the Beatles promotional video for Hello, Goodbye.

Click on the links under the photos for their links, click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)





Categories: General Interest