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Peavey T-60 Guitar and T-40 Bass

The Unique Guitar Blog - 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

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