Sunday, February 26, 2012

Harmony Hollywood

Just in time for the Oscars, I'm proud to present this kitschy cool piece of Americana.

Ever see another sunburst-type finish like this? Added to Oscar on this headstock, this is a little slice of art deco that would have been nostalgic in the 60's.

My friendwho owns this guitar moved from New York to California in the mid-70's, with big dreams and little money. Unfortunately, he had to sell off his other guitars to stay alive, but with 40 bucks in his pocket he bought this guitar in Berkeley, CA. He did very well for himself and counts some lovely instruments among his collection, yet still treasures this funky old box.

Full of visual appeal, it's also charming plugged it, and added to the backstory it's easy to see why he's hung on to this beauty.

Guitar courtesy of Shaky Ceasefire. Images c2012 by Derek See.

Friday, February 24, 2012

1967 Standel

Known more for unique California-made amplifiers, Standel guitars are a rare sight. Standel's final attempt at guitars resulted in a partnership with the Harptone case company (Newark, NJ) in 1967 of which this lovely guitar is an example of. While there is no model designation on the guitar, it is very similar to a Guild Starfire model guitar although that amazing headstock design is in a class of its own. These guitars were quite expensive at the time and very few were made.

The electronics of this guitar were quite anachronistic for the time, as they were the type of DeArmond brand pickups that Gretsch had used in the 50's.

Guitar courtesy of an anonymous collector; images c2012 Derek See.

1965 Martin D-28

While the D-28 was introduced by Martin in the early 1930's, it proved to be an incredibly popular and important guitar in the 1960's, as both John Lennon and Paul McCartney each bought brand new D-28's in 1967, which are heard all over "The Beatles" (aka The White Album), "Abbey Road" and "Let It Be".

This particular guitar was built with a set of awe-inspiring Brazilian rosewood; probably the most coveted wood of all, in terms of acoustic guitars. Martin stopped using Brazilian rosewood in 1969, as regulations regarding its harvest began to fall into effect (thankfully). The downside of the use of this beautiful wood was the decimation of the Brazilian rain forest.

Perhaps the ultimate singers' guitar, the D-28 became synonymous with acoustic rock.

About ten years ago, I scraped together money I basically didn't have by selling off a bunch of other things (a couple of guitars, some records, etc) in a manic week of ebay auctions because I HAD TO HAVE THIS GUITAR. four years ago, I HAD TO HAVE ANOTHER GUITAR and had to sell this one. FORTUNATELY in one of the most incredible twists of fate I've ever been able to experience first hand, I was reunited with this guitar a year ago when it became available again. This time around, I will NEVER sell it. It's meant to be I reckon.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

1964 Gibson J-50 (with Hummingbird pickguard)

One of the most beloved guitars of the 60's folk boom was the J-45/J-50 from Gibson, and the J-45 itself was introduced in 1942. In 1955, Gibson took the sunburst J-45, gave it a natural finish and called it a J-50. Both guitars feature the classic combination of spruce top, mahogany back, sides and neck as well as an easy-playing 24 3/4" scale length (most Martin acoustic guitars have a 25.4" scale which puts the strings under higher tension).

This rare bird (pardon the pun!) boasts a factory mounted pickguard from Gibson's ever popular Hummingbird model, and it looks very pretty on the slope shouldered J-50.

Images courtesy of Gryphon Stringed Instruments.

1960 Fender Telecaster

While the Telecaster, designed in 1949, is certainly not a 60's design, it was a design that was ahead of its time in every way, revolutionizing the guitar world with this radical design.

I am happy to feature this particular guitar, as it is very similar to the Telecaster as used by Steve Cropper on countless Stax/Volt hit records throughout the 60's. Cropper's snaky, twangy, soulful lines powered numerous hits from Otis Redding, Booker T & The MG's, Carla Thomas, Eddie Floyd, Sam & Dave, and many others.

Images courtesy of Gryphon Stringed Instruments.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

1968 Gibson SG Standard

The Gibson SG was one of the most popular guitars of the sixties, and the SG Standard was a guitar seen on the stages of many a psychedelic ballroom.

Thanks to its overall popularity upon its introduction in late 1960, the SG underwent very few changes through the 60's. In 1965, the nut width changed from 1 11/16" to a narrower 1 5/8" and the hardware w ent from being nickle plated to having a shinier chrome plating. In 1966, the neck heel, which was prone to breakage, was elongated for strength, and the pickguard became the so-called "batwing" style as seen on this guitar.

Images courtesy of Gryphon Stringed Instruments.

1967 Gretsch Nashville (6120)

The earliest of all Chet Atkins Gretsch models, the 6120 model was introduced in 1955 and featured western motifs such as cactus inlays and a large "G" cattle-branded onto the body. The western touches were lost relatively early on, and the guitar changed quite a bit by 1962, then remained relatively unchanged throughout the 60's.

In late '61, Gretsch introduced the "Electrotone" body; namely a hollowbody guitar without any open soundholes (the tradition 'f" holes on the top are painted on). This closed body reduced feedback, and was introduced thanks to a suggestion from Chet Atkins himself. Fortunately for rock n rollers, the closed body helped reduced howling feedback. Also, the closed body called for the open hole in the back of the guitar in which to load the electronics (as seen in the photos).

This model is commonly confused with the Chet Atkins Country Gentleman, and while the shape is similar, the lower bout of the Nashville measures (approximately) 16" across, while the larger Gent is ((approximately) 17" wide at the lower bout and was also featured in a dark "walnut" stain.

Images courtesy of Gryphon Stringed Instruments.

Friday, February 10, 2012

1966 + 1968 Gibson ES-335 12 Strings

Introduced in 1965 to capitalize on the folk-rock craze spearheaded by The Beatles "A hard Days Night' (specifically, George Harrison's use of a Rickenbacker 12 string electric on the record and as seen in the film), Gibson took their incredibly popular ES-335 (introduced in 1958), elongated the headstock and VOILA- instant jangle, with a twist of the Gibson 'growl".

This '66 example is finished in what's been dubbed (unofficially) "iced tea sunburst"; a light sunburst shade that was commonly seen on '60's Gibsons.

Probably the most famous use of this model was by Lou Reed in The Velvet Underground days, and it was heard in a big way on their brilliant, self titled third album.

This gleaming cherry red model was built in 1968; a few '68 Gibson models (ES-335, J-45, B-25) have the cool stenciled logo on the pickguard.

Guitar courtesy of Shaky Ceasefire; images c2012 Derek See.

Monday, February 6, 2012

1966 Epiphone Texan

The Epiphone Texan is one of the most HEARD acoustic guitars in history, yet it remains relatively unknown to the guitar fanatics at large.

In 1964, Paul McCartney purchased a Texan while the Beatles were on tour in the US. This guitar became a favorite of his which he uses to this day. The iconic status of this guitar is cemented , however, because his Texan is the guitar heard (tuned a whole step low- DGCFAD, low to high) on the 1965 recording of "Yesterday".

The Epiphone Texan is similar in many ways to the Gibson J-45/J-50, of which it shares its slope-shoulder dreadnought body. The biggest difference, however, is that the Texan is a long scale guitar (25.4") compared to the short scale J-45's (24 3/4"), making the Texan louder and with a more focused low end. All in all, Texans are fabulous guitars, although many modern players don't care for the narrow nut width (1 5/8"). Texan backs and sides also featured a mahogany stain that is very light, and almost blonde in color.

Throughout the '60's, Epiphone guitars were made side by side in the Kalamazoo, MI Gibson factory. The Epiphone brand was used by Gibson as a way to open up more dealers to their product and not compete with other retailers who were selling the distinguished Gibson brand; there is no difference in quality, yet the Epiphones had a slightly lower retail price during this era. In 1970, Epiphone production shipped to Japan, effectively closing the books on US production of this brand.

Images courtesy of the author; c2012 Derek See.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

1967 Rickenbacker 450/12

Prototyped in December 1963 with its unique "reverse" set up (namely, the string is struck before the octave string), this design became the finalized Rickenbacker 12 string electric guitar, which turned the music world upside after it was seen on the big screen in the summer of '64 in the hands of George Harrison. This exotic "Rickenbacker" guitar brand was also seen (earlier) in the hands of John Lennon (specifically, his incredibly rare 1958 model 325), and had also become one of the most famous guitars in the world (albeit one that practically no one could purchase, as they were made in such miniscule numbers).

It was after seeing "A Hard Day's Night" that folkie Jim McGuinn decided to "plug in" a 12 string Rickenbacker and form the Byrds, stamping out a sound that was copied in garages worldwide with the jangly tone of a twelve string electric.

Rickenbacker saw the same type of mass hysteria for their products as Gretsch, and also ramped up production to record numbers between 1964-1968.

The Model 450 was evolved into this shape and these features as seen in 1962, and remained virtually unchanged until it was dropped in the early '80's. Just like Lennon's 325, the model 450 is a short scale guitar; unlike the 325, the 450 is a solid body. 450/12's were made in very limited numbers, and although production totals are "lost" for 1967, only 109 black 450/12's were made in 1966.

This guitar is exceptionally cool as it pulls together three "Beatle" models; it has the 12 string thing, the black and white 'tuxedo' look of John's 325, and also George briefly played a 425 solid body (essentially a single pickup version of the 450) for a brief time in 1963, which he purchased that year, pre-Beatlemania in the USA, on his first trip to the states to visit his sister in Illinois.

The 450/12 was used quite often by The MC5's Fred 'Sonic' Smith:

guitar courtesy of Gryphon Stringed Instruments.