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The Beach Boys and Their Guitars - Surf Music Part Two

Sun, 11/26/2017 - 09:08

The Original Beach Boys
Jan and Dean


The instrumental surf bands were great, however the other part of surf music were the vocal bands. Most of these groups yielded only one hit wonders. Jan and Dean stand out as an exception and had sixteen hit records from 1959 to 1966. Both were singers, and did not play instruments in their concerts.


The Rip Chords



Another surf band of this era was The Rip Chords. They had a hit with "Hey Little Cobra". Ironically Bruce Johnson, who would go on to become one of the Beach Boys, was a member of this group.



The Hondells
The Hondells were a surf group with great vocals and harmonies. They had a big hit with the Brian Wilson/Mike Love penned song; "Little Honda". This band was put together by Beach Boy lyricists Roger Christian and Gary Usher. Usher and Christian penned lyrics for many of the Beach Boys Hot Rod songs.

The Hondells started out in the studio, as a fictitious band. They were later assembled with real perfomers after their version of Little Honda became a national hit. Studio musician Chuck Girard sang the vocals on the recording, and members of the Wrecking Crew provided the instrumental support. Girard later to become a well-known Christian singer-songwriter, and member of the Christian band, Love Song. The Hondells appeared in several of the surf based teen movies of the day.

The Beach Boys 

But by far the most famous vocal surf group was The Beach Boys.  After five decades, their music still has a strong following with concert goers of all ages.

The Wilson brothers grew up in a Hawthorne California bungalow in the 1950’s.

Audree and Murray Wilson

The father of the three Wilson brothers, Murray Wilson
, was injured in an industrial accident and lost an eye. During his long recuperation he began writing music, and came out with a couple of popular songs. This launched his career in the music business.

The Wilson brothers at their home
His oldest son Brian grew up listening to his father playing piano and organ, By the time Brian was 16, he had taught himself to play piano, and taken some music training in high school. It also helped that his middle class family found joy in singing accapella songs together along with their mother, Audree.

Brian also enjoyed listening to the popular music of the day, which included recordings by The Four Freshman, and the hit records by the Ronettes, the Crystals, and Darlene Love.

Brian had this amazing inherent ability to hear the different parts of each vocal, and each instrumental segment. This gave him the skill to dissect each musical line in his head. Some study at a music conservatory for years to develop this craft. Brian was blessed with this gift.

Brian shared a bedroom with his brothers Dennis, and Carl, and for fun he recruited them, neighbor David Marks, and the Wilson's cousin, Mike Love, as well as friend Alan Jardine, to sing harmonies on the songs that he loved. The Wilson boys would even sing in harmony for their family gatherings.

Later on Brian received a reel-to-reel tape recorder and learned how to overdub vocals.  This lead to further recording adventures.

Beach Boys - Torrence High School 1962
Once when the parents left the boys alone, to take a brief get-away to Mexico, Brian and his brothers used the money that their father left them to buy food and went to Hogan’s Music store and rented two guitars, a bass guitar, a drum kit, an amplifier, and a microphone. They then came home and recorded a song that Brian had written called “Surfin".

Another version states that Al Jardine's mother financed the equipment rental. This may be more plausible, since an adult would have to sign a rental agreement.

As Dennis was the only surfer in the group, and we can thank him for prodding Brian to write this song. If not for him, the Beach Boys may have been a long forgotten Folk music group.

By the time the parents arrived home from their trip, the father, Murray, was furious that the boys had used all the food money to rent instruments, until he listened to the recording and realized that his sons were very talented.

The Pendletones
Murray took the boys to a recording studio to make professional demos of two surfing songs that Brian and Mike had written, then he shopped them around to record promoters. At the time the band was known as The Pendletones. Eventually Candix Records picked up their songs and released the demos as promotional records.

The Beach Boys - Candix Records


The company had changed the name  to The Beach Boys by one of the companies promoters without telling the group. At first the members disliked the name, but it stuck and their fame grew.



The Beach Boys "Surfin' Safari 1962
From 1961 to 1966 The Beach Boys had a string of hits, with lyrics about surfing, cars, summer, and high school life, which pretty much summed up white youth culture in Southern California during this era; a culture that much of the rest of the United States envied.

Their first hit was Surfin', later followed up by Surfin' Safari.

The Beach Boys on the Ed Sullivan Show
In 1962, Al Jardine left the group to go to college and was replaced by original member David Marks. Marks was still a teen in school when the groups success lead to touring. Brian continued to write the music for hit songs, though all of the lyrics were done by co-writers, which at times included Mike Love.

Brian did not like to tour and was having some emotional and health issues.  In 1964  he had a traumatic panic attack during a chartered flight. After that experience, he told the group that he could no longer perform, and wanted to stay home and write music. Around this same time, Al Jardine was dissatisfied with undergraduate school, wanted back in the music business. He was invited back to play bass guitar and sing Brian's vocal parts.

David Marks
By late 1963, David Marks could take no more of the heavy handed approach of Murray Wilson, the father of the Wilson boys, and their self-appointed manager. Marks left the group, and Al Jardine, who by now had taken Brian's place as the Beach Boys bass player took over the rhythm guitar parts.

Glen Campbell as a Beach Boy



A new bass player was recruited. The job fell briefly to Glen Campbell, and later in 1965 Bruce Johnston, officially became a Beach Boy.



Murray looks on as the boys play music
Within a few years, Brian was feeling the pressure of writing music, producing and arranging music, recording the music, and fending off the critical directions from his father. In a difficult move, Brian became angry with his father's continual fault finding.

During a recording session at Capitol Records, while Murray was barking orders, Brian shoved his father against a wall, fired him as the groups manager and ordered him to leave.

Pet Sounds -
Their first album not about surf music or cars
Brian Wilson realized that Surf Music, and songs about Hot Rods, high school life, and endless summer were but a fad, and turned his attention to other themes for The Beach Boys music. Though the band members, especially Mike Love, were apprehensive about "killing off their magic formula".

This was actually turned out to be a great move and it accounted for the groups longevity.

The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary tour
At age 75, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, and Al Jardine have celebrated over 50 years as The Beach Boys. They have outlasted most of their peers, and survived the death of some of the group members; Dennis, and Carl. They have lived through divorce, illness, and lawsuits.

Mike Love's Beach Boys
Presently Mike Love is touring with a band known as The Beach Boys. Through the years the band  has reinvented themselves and hired younger musicians to perform in concert. Brian has overcome his personal demons and has been on the road for years, and is still writing new songs.

Al Jardine and Carl Wilson

Al Jardine, and Carl Wilson never claimed to be great guitarists, but they were certainly good enough to play in concert. Dennis Wilson life was all about having a good time. He was never a great drummer, but he could sure keep the beat, and kept the eyes of the ladies. Dennis also wrote some wonderful songs.



The Wrecking Crew
In my opinion, the original recordings were great. The band members played their own played instruments on all of those albums. When Brian made Pet Sounds and hired  professional studio players to play the instrumental parts on their recordings, the Beach Boys sound changed dramatically.

I believe Brian's desire to create huge orchestrated productions of his songs stemmed from a desire he had in the back of his mind for  many years. Brian always had a huge admiration for Phil Spector's production technique, and showed up at his recording sessions, just to watch Spector create his "Wall of Sound". Brian and his brothers also had a friendship with John Maus of the Walker Brothers. The Walker Brothers songs had backing arrangements similar to those Brian was about to develop.

The Pet Sounds album was a huge musical turning point in the Beach Boys career.

Brian coaches bassist Lyle Ritz.
 Drummer Jim Gordon in the back
Brian had all these sounds and arrangements in his mind and needed to get them on record. He could not get this sound with just two guitars, a bass and drums. So he hired a group of studio musicians that eventually came to be known as The Wrecking Crew.


At first the "Wrecking Crew" was a derogatory slur given to this group of players by the "suits" that usually did the background music for Capitol Records arrangements. They thought these musicians were going to wreck the industry by playing pop music, instead of contributing their talent to recordings like Montavani's 1000 strings. Years later members of the "Wrecking Crew" embraced the term. You hear them play on literally thousands of popular hit songs from the 1960's through the 1980's, that were made by thousands of artists.  None of the members ever got credit for their work.

These musicians loved working for Brian. His sessions were long, and the players were paid by the hour. Pet Sounds wound up costing over $70,000 to make and it was not at all financially successful.

At the time the fan base may not have understood the direction that The Beach Boys had taken. But it yielded four of The Beach Boys best songs; Wouldn't It Be Nice,  Sloop John B, God Only Knows, and the mournful Caroline No (which lyricist Tony Asher originally wrote as "Carol, I Know", but Brian misunderstood). In an effort to recoup their money, Capitol Records did not wait long after the release of Pet Sounds, to release a compilation album called The Beach Boys Greatest Hits.

Bruce, Brian, Al, and Dennis
 record vocals
During the early days, between tour dates Al, Carl, Mike, and the new guy, Bruce Johnston, would go to the studio with Brian and lay down the vocal tracks over the already recorded music tracks. Carl was the only Beach Boy to play guitar on any of the recordings.


Brian working with Hal Blaine
Most of the parts were played by the pro's, who penciled in the parts during those sessions, where Brian would hum or sing each part to them. Some parts were made up on the spot. such as Carol Kaye''s great bass line on Good Vibrations.

The Beach Boys (The Pendletones)
Carl Wilson, Al Jardine, and David Marks played guitar for the Beach Boys in concert and even on the first recordings. It is difficult to track down many of the guitars seen in the early black and white videos, because, as Al Jardine explains, “..we kept losing them because we toured so much. They’d get stolen right off the back of the truck. We could never keep them in stock. 

We’d just have to get new ones, so I don’t have a clue where they are.. So through the Sixties we’d just keep recycling them.” 

However we do know about some of the guitars that The Beach Boys used.

Carl took guitar lessons at an accordion studio near Hawthorne, and from a musician that lived in the area named John Maus. John was in a group called The Walker Brothers, and taught guitar out of his home which was a couple of blocks around the corner from the Wilson family home.

Carl with Rickenbacker model 360
One of the guitars that the Wilsons' rented from Hogan's Music to do the original home recordings was a six string Rickenbacker. There are no existing photos of those rental instruments. But we do know that early on, Carl played a Rickenbacker in concert

1959 Carvin Electric guitar



David Marks parents bought him a Sears Silvertone acoustic guitar in 1958. A year later he purchased a Carvin electric guitar from John Maus.




1959 Kay model K899OJC



Carl acknowledged his first guitar was a Kay hollow body electric guitar that he received as a  Christmas present. He played this guitar unplugged on the recording of Surfin’.




Carl '62 Stratocaster

Once the record was released, the Beach Boys needed better equipment. Carl purchased a 1962 sunburst Fender Stratocaster, which he used briefly. Al Jardine was originally the bass player, and for a while played a stand-up string bass. This would figure, as Al was a fan of folk music. He is responsible for introducing the song, Sloop John B, which is properly titled, The John B. Sails. to Brian. If it was up to Al, the Beach Boys would have been a folk group.

We do not know what type of guitar Al used on early recordings, but due to the sound, we are fairly certain it was not a Fender.

Brian with his
'62 Fender Precision Bass



Brian’s first bass was a sunburst ‘62 Fender Precision Bass.







David Marks
 '62 Stratocaster



When Al Jardine left the group to go to school and David Marks came back he was playing a Rickenbacker, before switching to a ‘62 Sunburst Fender Stratocaster.







The Beach Boys amplifiers
Carl and David were playing through Fender amplifiers from the start. Marks used a white tolex Dual Showman, and  Carl Wilson had a 1955-60 tweed Fender Bassman, along with a 1962 Fender Reverb unit. Brian played bass through a tweed Fender Bassman amplifier.


Carl's '62 Jaguar and Al's '62 Stratocaster


Later in 1962, Carl got his Olympic white Fender Jaguar. In 1963 Marks purchased a similar
instrument.



Carl with Rickenbacker 360/12


In 1964 Carl added a Fire Glow (red sunburst) Rickenbacker 360/12, that he used on some songs.





Beach Boys '63 Al with Gibson SG
By 1964 Al Jardine was in the group again, replacing David Marks. Al originally used a white Gibson SG, but eventually got an Olympic White Fender Stratocaster.  At this time Brian was playing a 1962 Olympic White Fender Precision bass.

The Beach Boys 1964 Concert

In 1964 both Carl and Al usually played through 1960-63 white tolex Fender Dual Showman amplifiers, and 1962 Fender stand-alone reverb units. They also used an Ampeg B-15 Portaflex bass amp.

At some concerts they used a Fender 1961-62 Bassman amp with a 1964 white Tolex cabinet.

Carl with Epiphone 12



Besides the 1963 white Jaguar and the fire glow Rickenbacker 360/12, Carl Wilson used some other guitars in concert. These include a sunburst Epiphone Rivera 12-string, that he used on Help Me Rhonda, and Sloop John B.




Carl Gibson ES-335



Carl also owned a Blonde Gibson ES-335, with a Bigsby that he purchased in 1970 from a friend for $300,






Carl - Gibson ES-335 12 string


In addition to the Epiphone 12 string, Carl also owned a red-burst Gibson 12 string Es-335, both a black Les Paul, a sunburst Gibson ES-345, and a red Les Paul, and an Olympic white Fender Stratocaster.





Carl with yellow Stratocaster



He also owned the a tobacco-burst Epiphone 12 string pictured above and, a yellow Fender Stratocaster, that he named Old Yeller, and a yellow Fender Telecaster.





Carl's red Baldwin 12 string



He also owned a blonde Fender Stratocaster, a red Baldwin 12 string, and a Les Paul Jr.





Carl with Yamaha APX700



As for acoustic guitars, Carl owned a Martin D-41, a Gibson J-200, and a Yamaha APX700 acoustic-electric.





Carl with Fender XII
and Dual Showman amp



Over the years a few guitars were stolen that include a Fender XII 12 string, and a Martin D-76 Bicentennial model.






Carl with a white Fender Telecaster

There are a few unusual guitar that he also played which included a white Fender Telecaster with a Bigsby unit. Fender did not offer those until 1967.


Carl and Al Jardine may of received that gratis from Fender, since the Beach Boys did start endorsing Fender products in 1962.

A music dealer once offered Carl a Mosrite, like the ones The Ventures played, in exchanged for endorsements, but he turned that down.

Carl with custom Fender Lucite guitar


Fender also built Carl a special one-of-a-kind Lucite guitar. This guitar  was a prototype model that never went on the market. It was hand built by Roger Rossmeisl. The body was somewhat similar in shape to a Stratocaster.



Fender custom Lucite guitar
This guitar had twin Seth Lover designed Fender Wide-Range Telecaster pickups. The unusually shaped neck was straight off of a Fender Starcaster, which was another Rossmeisll creation. The neck was capped with a rosewood fretboard, that had block pearloid markers.


The guitar also had a vibrato unit, similar to the Fender Mustang vibrato.

Al Jardine with '62 Fender Stratocaster



Al Jardine is usually seen playing his stock Olympic White Stratocaster.




Al Jardine with a black Stratocaster


Though at some venues, he used a black Fender Stratocaster.




Al Jardine -
white Fender Jaguar


However Al also played a Fender Jaguar on some songs.

The 1967 white Telecaster with the Bigsby unit, that Carl is playing in a few videos may have actually belonged to Al. Al has a relationship with Fender Musical Instruments and Senior VP Richard McDonald. They still ship him equipment if he needs it.


Al Jardine with Martin D-45

During the 1980's and 1990's,  Al usually plays a white or red 1962 replica Stratocaster, with a rosewood neck, through a Fender Twin Reverb amplifier. He also owns some Martin acoustic guitars.

Fender Twin Reverb amplifier

The Fender Twin Reverb was designed to be a combo version of the Dual Showman, although it has two 12” speakers with  85 watts of RMS power.

Through the later years the Beach Boys generally relied on Fender Twin Reverb amps in concert, I’ve also read that at one point they used Dumble amplifiers.

Mitchell Pro-100 amplifier


Carl owned a Mitchell amplifier the he really liked.






Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Tour
During their 50th Anniversary concert, the Beach Boys played through Fender Hot Rod Deville amps.

Carl was the  usually the only Beach Boy to play guitar or bass on their recordings, although some of their first albums featured the members of the band doing the instrumentals.These were the albums done before the Wrecking Crew stepped in to do the instrumental parts.

Carl playing bass in the studio

In an interview Carl stated that most of the guitar parts were recorded using a direct box to the mixing console unless Brian wanted an over driven sound and then they cranked up the amplifier.



David Marks at a guitar clinic
David Marks, he said the group originally used Fender flat-wound strings on their guitars. Carl stated that he switched to Ernie Ball medium gauge strings in the mid-1960’s. As the years progressed he continued to use Ernie Ball strings, but went to lighter, slinky strings.

David Marks and the Marksmen


As for David Marks, he left the Beach Boys after the first five albums, but he maintained a career in music; first with his band, David Marks and the Marksmen, and later as a studio player. He is seen in this picture with a 1960's era Epiphone Crestwood guitar.


David Marks with Dennis Wilson


Marks studied classical and modern music with Warren Zevon, and Robert Kraft. Marks also worked and recorded with composer Mike Curb, who wrote a lot of television theme music, and in the 1960’s put together a group called The MIke Curb Congregation.



Marks came back to The Beach Boys in the 1990’s when Carl became ill. It was only supposed to be a temporary gig. Sadly Carl passed away, and Marks stayed on and was prominently featured in the 50th Anniversary concert.

Early concert with
Al on bass and David Marks


As the years have passed, there have been a lot of legal feuds between the band members. Money talks.





Beach Boys 50th Anniversary

After the 50th Anniversary tour ended Mike Love, through legal maneuvering took possession of the legal name; The Beach Boys, from Brother Record Incorporated. That keeps the money flow going.

Mike Love


Prior to that, Mike Love was touring as America’s Band along with Bruce Johnson and David Marks.




Al Jardine and
the Endless Summer Band
Al Jardine began touring as The Beach Boys; Family and Friends; a band that included several children of Beach Boy members including Brian's daughters, Wendy and Carnie.  A court order was issued to halt using Jardine from using that name. He also toured as the Endless Summer Band, with his son Matthew.

Lawsuits and counter suits resulted. The 50th Anniversary Concert was a truce, and the band rallied to record one more Brian Wilson song called That’s Why God Made The Radio.

Due to discontent and legal bickering between the members, and the deaths of the two Wilson brothers, it is unlikely we will ever see the original Beach Boys perform together again. But it was such a good run while it lasted. And we still have all those great recordings.
The Beach Boys in the U.K.
The Beach Boys music lives on despite the fact that the remaining members are in their mid-70's. Their music is upbeat, fun,  great to dance to, and the lyrics speak to many generations.

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








Categories: General Interest

J. Geils Guitars From His Estate Are Being Auctioned

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 12:41
J Geils

On Sunday, November 19th, 2017, the Fine Musical Insturments department of Skinner Auctions, will be offering the remaining guitars and musical instruments from the estate of J. Geils.



J Geils
John Warren Geils, better known as J. Geils passed away on April 11th of this year. He had sold off much of his collection of vintage guitars and amplifiers prior to his death. His collection of vintage Italian sports cars was auctioned off earlier this year.

The New Guitar Summit

Though he is best known for his guitar work in the J. Geils Band, Geils went on to play Jazz guitar in the Boston area. He was part of the New Guitar Summit with Duke Robillard, and Gerry Beaudoin.



J Geil's Italian sports cars at KTX

In addition to his musical career, Geils also owned and operated KTR Motorsports, a business that serviced Italian sports cars. He also had a degree from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in mechanical engineering.


D'Angelico Excel



The upcoming auction at Skinners features some of J’s favourite guitars; including a beautiful 1940 D’Angelico Excel Archtop model, that is expected to fetch between $6,000 to $8,000.




Stromberg Master 400



Also featured is a rare 1940 Stromberg Master 400 archtop guitar, that has a price tag of $8,000 to $12,000.





1954 Fender Stratocaster



An original sunburst 1954 Fender Stratocaster (the first year this guitar was offered) is being offered at a price of between $25,000 to $35,000. This guitar is in pristine condition.





1952 Les Paul



A 1952 Gibson Les Paul gold top guitar that has the original P-90 pickups and trapeze tailpiece is among the items being sold. This guitar is expected to fetch between $8,000 and $12,000.





Gibson Nick Lucas



Geil’s 1929 sunburst Gibson Nick Lucas Special acoustic guitar is being offered for $5,500 to $6,500.





Ignacio Fleta guitar




His rare handmade 1976 Ignacio Fleta classical guitar is being offered for $20,000 to $30,000.





Lloyd Loar Mandola



J. Geils also owned an original 1924 Gibson Lloyd Loar H-5 Mandola. This is the larger version of the F-5 mandolin. It is being offered at between $35,000 to $55,000.






Fagnola Violin



While they are not guitars, the upcoming auction also features a fine Italian violin ascribed to maker Annibale Fagnola that has an estimated worth of between $10,000 and $15,000.





Pedrazzini cello
His cello built by Italian maker Giuseppe Pedrazzini that is expected to sell for between $25,000 and $35,00 along with a gorgeous silver-tipped cello bow made by Christian Welhelm Knopf that will sell for between $1,800 and $2,400.

For those of us that would like to own a guitar that belonged to a music legend, but can’t ante up a lot of money, do not despair. Some of J’s less valuable instruments are on the block, and the bidding for these instruments starts at just $20 USD.

Vega Duo-Tron


This 1950 Vega Duo-Tron electric archtop guitar is being offer for a bid starting at $20. The volume and tone controls are mounted on the guitars trapeze tailpiece.






1940 Vega Electric guitar




Also offered is a 1940 Vega electric archtop with a unique slanted pickup. This is reminiscent of a similar Gibson model of the same era. 




Harmony Monterey




A 1955 Harmony Monterey archtop guitar, with an added DeArmond pickup is offered as well.



Stella Guitar




A 1965 Harmony Stella guitar is also offered, that will certainly sell in a low price range.






Gibson EH-150 Lap Steel



J’s 1937 Gibson EH-150 lap steel, along with its original case is being offered. It is in pristine condition.






Broken 1977 Les Paul Double


I’d love to know the story behind this next guitar being offered. It is a 1977 Les Paul Special. The neck is broken in half, and all the parts are gone.






Two vintage guitar amplifiers are also on the block.

Epiphone Electar Amp


One is a gorgeous 1939 Epiphone Electar Zephyr that has a stylized wooden cabinet, with a large wooden E design over the grill.






Supro Amplifier



The other amplifier up for bid is a 1949 Supro model 1600U amplifier.





J Geils Estate Auction


There are many other items offered at this auction, that include Senhheiser and Beyerdynamic microphones, a group of speaker cabinets and amplifiers, guitar cases, speakers, awards, photographs, gold and platinum records, road cases, recording equipment, tour jackets, and tee shirts.

And trumpets; J played the trumpet and collected them.

Check out the online catalog.

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




Categories: General Interest

Gibson Memphis Guitar Factory Is Up For Sale

Sun, 10/22/2017 - 09:35
Gibson Factory in Memphis
Gibson Guitars has put their downtown Memphis facility up for sale.

In a press release, the company implies that the Memphis factory is not closing, or leaving Memphis, but looking for a smaller space the the almost 128,000 building they currently occupy. Asking price is $17 million dollars, including a 330 space parking lot.

Gibson has been a Memphis fixture for the past 18 years. When it was built it had a large entertainment facility that has not been used in the past few years.

Unconfirmed source state the Gibson Brands Incorporated has accrued considerable debt.

Inside the Memphis Plant
The agents handling the sale stated, “They are definitely going to stay in Memphis, but when this venue was built it had a large entertainment venue (that) hasn’t been utilized in a couple of years,” he said. “And that’s approximately half of the building.”

They go on to say that the Memphis plant will not be closing anytime soon. It is estimated that it will take 18 to 24 months to find a new home.

Gibson Memphis Plant
Gibson has three factories that produce their instruments. The facility in Memphis builds the ES semi-hollow body electric guitars and all of their custom instruments. In Nashville, Tennessee, Gibson’s solid body guitars are produced, and in Bozeman, Montana, Gibson’s acoustic guitars are created.

Gibson Brands CEO Henry Juskiewicz
In a press release, Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz states: “We are extremely excited about the next phase of growth we believe will benefit both our employees, and the Memphis community. 


I remember when our property had abandoned buildings, and Beale Street was in decline. It is with great prid that I can see the development of this area with a basketball arena, hotel, and a resurgent pride in the musical heritage of the great city of Memphis. We continue to love the Memphis community and hope to be a key contributor to its future when we move nearby to a more appropriate location for our manufacturing based business allowing the world the benefit or our great American craftsmen.”

Epiphone Les Paul Standards.


In addition to the Gibson brand name, Gibson also owns the Epiphone, Kramer, Maestro, Kalamazoo, Dobro, and Valley Arts brand names for guitars.



Baldwin Piano


The company owns the Slingerland Drum Company, as well as the Baldwin, Wurlitzer, Chickering, and Hamilton piano brand names.



Slingerland drums are no longer being manufacutred.  Some of the other guitar brands are no longer being made, while others, that were once American brands, are now being outsourced to Asian manufacturers.

Gibson Innovations products
Surprisingly, Gibson Brands largest business in not in guitars, but in its electronics and audio businesses. Gibson Innovations is a licensee of Phillips brand audio, Gibson also owns the Onkyo Corporation, which produces Onkyo and Pioneer brands.

Teac Mixer
They own both the Tascam and Teac Corporation, including their Esoteric brands. Gibson owns Cerwin Vega, Stanton, KRK Systems and the software company; Cakewalk.

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




Categories: General Interest

Carvin Audio Closes It's Doors After 71 Years Of Business

Sat, 10/21/2017 - 05:18
Carvin Audio


On October the 11th, the owners of Carvin Audio announced that after 71 years of being in business they are closing.




LC Kiesel demonstrates
a mandolin pickup and an amplifier
Carvin guitars and amplifiers is a company started by Lowell C. Kiesel in San Diego California back in 1946. At that time Mr. Kiesel had created a stringed instrument pickup. This was at a time when the steel guitar was very popular, especially for Country and Western bands that were spring up in Southern California.



LC Kiesel playing steel
 on a Martin guitar


Kiesel was an accomplished steel guitar player.

Within a year Kiesel moved his location and began manufacturing steel guitars. By 1949 he set up a larger facility in Baldwin Park, California  This same year Lowell changed the companies name from Kiesel Guitars, to Carvin Guitars. Carvin was an amalgamation of the names of Lowell’s sons; Carson and Gavin.

'56 Carvin #1-SGB


The companies earliest guitars, and basses were very basic, but functional. They utilized necks made by Höfner, and pickups manufactured by DeArmond. In addition to their own guitars, Carvin also offered Martin guitars, Fender guitars, and Sonola accordions. They also offered a complete line of steel and pedal steel guitars.




1976 Carvin guitars
By the mid 1970’s the quality of Carvin guitars had greatly improved, and in addition to  their own line of amplifiers, they were offering professional audio equipment.

Later in the decade they expanded into recording equipment, stage lighting, and other studio equipment.


1976 Parts and Kits



Carvin offered guitar kits as early as the 1960’s. Carvin continued to manufacture their own pickups.





'54 Carvin #3664 -
2 - 12" speakers 25 watt
s
The Carvin company began building guitar amplifiers as early as the 1950’s. The appearance of their early amplifiers were similar to Fender or Gibson amplifiers. The amplifiers were every bit as good as comparable Fender amplifiers, but were sold direct to the public at half the price as Fender amps.

1957 Model #3-SGB


Carvin’s sales were always direct to the public. This was a niche that other manufactures never pursued, but it was the key to Carvin's success. Their only stores were their own retail outlets, that were not opened until 1991. These three locations were in Southern California, and include their Escondido factory.



1956 Catalog cover



Their early catalogs were crudely done as mimeographed flyers, with descriptions of the guitars and amps. They had black and white photographs of the products.





1976 Carvin Catalog



By 1976 Carvin began offering color catalogs.








1976 Carvin CM96 guitar


This same year, Carvin guitars came with all the bells and whistles, that included pickup phasing switches, coil tap, and stereo controls. Bodies were made in the USA, the necks were made in Germany by Hòfner.





Kiesel Guitars
In 2015, Carvin split into two divisions. Their new guitars were re-branded under the brand name Kiesel. Audio equipment remained under the name Carvin Audio.


1979 Carvin Audio and Amplifiers
As best as I can tell, Carvin began offering first class audio mixing consoles, and power amplifiers in 1979. Their equipment was of professional quality. Initial offerings were from 4 channels to 16 channels with 8 outputs. Carvin also manufactured stage monitors, and professional speaker systems.

Recently they added digital mixing boards, microphones, wireless systems, in-ear monitors, and power conditioners.

Carvin Endorsements


Carvin guitar amplifiers were legendary. Steve Vai was an endorser. The late Alan Holdsworth played his Carvin signature model.


Carvin Vintage Series 16/5 watt amp



Carvin Vintage series tube guitar amplifiers were comparable to better known brands, at a much lower price.






Carvin BX 1600 bass amp


Carvin bass amplifiers, sold as the BX series and as well as their cabinets were great values. These were rated from 250 watts to 2000 watts RMS.

Carvin Audio

Unfortunately Carvin equipment will no longer be available. The website is offering remaining stock, but most stock has already been sold.


2017 Kiesel FG1
Kiesel still offers gorgeous guitars and basses, as well as guitar and bass pickups, bodies, kits, necks, and parts.

Carvin guitars and amplifiers have always been under the radar when compared to Fender, Gibson, and Vox.

Those who own Carvin products swear by them.

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





Categories: General Interest

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