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Showing posts with the label Gibson

1975 Gibson S-1 'Marauder'

Ahhh, the Seventies. This was the age of big, non-musical conglomerates doing hostile takeovers of major musical manufacturers. They tried to apply large economies-of-scale on guitar and piano building, with often limited success. Often, the case was that quality went down and weird ideas came to the forefront that otherwise would have languished in well-deserved obscurity. Despite this trend, there were some oddball successes, that were good instruments, even if they didn't appeal broadly to many musicians. One of these was the Gibson S-1, known as the Marauder. The S-1 was an attempt to broaden Gibson's tone palette and expand its range into that snappy Fender territory at a price point significantly less (for the time) than a Gibson Les Paul. At this time, you could by a Les Paul Standard for right around $495, plus another $95 for the hardshell case. (Nobody used gig bags--such a thing didn't exist. There were chipboard cases for cheapo guitars, but nobody would ever st

1977 Gibson RD Artist

As we have discussed previously, in the 1970s, the big guitar manufacturers were pretty much taken over by large corporations. In the late 60s, CBS took over Fender. Gibson was acquired by a huge conglomerate named Norlin. (Along with Gibson, Norlin also took over Moog synthesizers). These corporations tried to apply large-scale manufacturing techniques and efficiencies to guitar construction. After all, as they figured, a guitar is just a piece of wood, like furniture. It should be easy to be able to increase production and profitability.  During the Norlin era of Gibson, quality control generally took a dive because of cost-cutting measures. These guitars are collectible today because they were made a half-century ago, but at the time, guitar players didn't particularly think these guitars were as good as those from the 1950s and 1960s. At the time, a Les Paul Custom would set you back about $600 plus another $95 for the case. That's almost unimaginable today, but at a time w

1964 Gibson Thunderbird II Bass - Signed by John Entwistle

One of the iconic basses of rock and roll is the Gibson Thunderbird. The reverse offset body, the bird-beak headstock, and the aggressive tone would never fit in a rock or country band. It was made to rock and that's what it does. One of the iconic bass players of rock history is John Entwistle of The Who. Put them together and you have something really special. The object of our attention this week is a 1964 Gibson Thunderbird that signed by the legendary Who bassist.  The Thunderbird was designed to rival Fender's successful bass line. It was the first 34-inch scale-length bass Gibson built. The neck-through body design was unique and made the the instrument really sing with good sustain. Apparently the humbucking pickups covers were originally designed for a lap steel guitar. These guitars seemingly weighed a ton, but the weight contributed to massive tone. The Tune-o-Matic style bridge added to the sustain. The bass had a single tone and volume control. With the treble all

1962 Gibson Melody Maker

The Gibson Melody Maker was an entry-level student instrument in Gibson's solidbody line. For many of us, this was the first Gibson we ever played. In my case, a friend loaned me his grown-up brother's Melody Maker and a Fender Princeton amp to practice my electric chops before joining the school jazz band. Hard to imagine that those items nowadays would add up to almost $2000 worth of equipment!  The Melody Maker had a solid mahogany body with a set-in neck. The neck profile was comfortably "Gibson" and was pretty fast. The frets were well-dressed, smooth, and level. The single-coil pickup and electronics were mounted on the pickguard and attached to the routed body.  These guitars were surprisingly tough and durable. The neck-body joint was solid and it could handle some manhandling. The tuners were the standard three-on-a-plate open gear models that you found on inexpensive guitars of the day. There wasn't much in the way of tone options, but the options availa

1967 Gibson Trini Lopez

Trini Lopez was a popular singer in the Sixties, known mainly for his pop cover of “If I Had a Hammer” and “Lemon Tree.” He had two signature model Gibson guitars built for him that had some unusual features. Check out the double Florentine cutaways on this full-body archtop. This is a full hollow body, not semi-hollow. The neck inlays are unique for Gibson and get a load of that headstock. Today, we tend to see that as a Strat-like design, but it’s known that the six-on-a-side headstock design originated with the Bigsby Merle Travis guitar in the 1940s. Still, it’s unusual on a Gibson. These models are pretty rare today  and their price reflects it. The model currently on eBay is in the $8400 range. If you like this design, and you’re on a budget, you can search around and maybe find a Ventura copy of it. I had the chance to play the Ventura that a friend inherited from his father many years ago. It was an extraordinary fine guitar with very elegant features including a multi-ply lami

Gibson Super 400 China Dragon Custom Masterpiece Archtop

This blog is generally dedicated to finding you deals on eBay, but often it will bring you news of cool and unusual stuff. It's not necessarily a "deal" unless you happen to be a millionaire. The other day, we brought you the Cozart electrics which, if you watch for a while, you can catch on auction for under a hundred bucks. This one is the opposite end of the price spectrum. This auction on eBay offers a super-customized Gibson Super 400 that is an objet d'art . I am surprised it's not on auction at Sotheby's or some other high-end elite auction house. The guitar features stunning inlay and woodcarving unlike anything you've probably experienced. It's on the vulgar end of gaudy, but it is pretty amazing to see. Premium woods with ornate handcarved bas-relief sculpture of a Chinese dragon on the top and back on premium curly maple. Elaborate abalone inlay in the fingerboard and headstock. Just look at the carved dragon scales on the back of the neck