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Keith Urban Guitars

Perhaps you are old enough to remember getting a Sears catalog every Christmas. In the age before the Internet, it was the way we "surfed" and dreamed of the toys and games we wanted for Christmas. When we got old enough, we discovered that Sears had guitars and amplifiers in the catalog! For a great many of us, the Sears brand, Silvertone, is a fond memory. Those catalog guitars couldn't hold a candle to a cheap Fender Squier today, but they were our gateway into the world of rock and roll. Now the reason I preface this blog post in this fashion is that those catalog guitars, those Silvertones, are quite collectible nowadays. The guitar snobs of our youth, you know--that rich kid whose parents bought him a Stratocaster while you saved your money mowing lawns to buy a guitar--those snobs pooh-poohed your Silvertone. Now on eBay, the Silvertones have some cachet to them. This is the way I introduce the Keith Urban guitar line, which was sold online by the Home Shopping Net

1985 Bond Electraglide

One of the most interesting ideas in guitar design was the Bond Electraglide. This innovative guitar was built out of graphite composites, featured active electronics, and had one of the most unusual neck/fingerboard concepts ever.  The Bond's neck and body were cast from one piece with no seam between them. The fingerboard was designed like a sawtooth, with no frets. The edge of the sawtooth was precisely measured to be elevated at the proper height at the place where a fret would normally be. The result was that the guitar felt almost fretless, but it played with the accuracy of a fretted instrument. The guitar's electronics were controlled by an external box that powered the active controls. On the guitar, there was not a pickup selector, but instead several push buttons that would switch the pickups into various combinations. The specific number of the combination would be displayed on a small, angled LED that was directed up toward the player. The buttons for the controls

Ovation Applause AF-15 12-string guitar

  Every now and then, a famous guitar manufacturer has an idea that is just godawful. Welcome to the 1977 Ovation Applause. One of Ovation's selling points in the 1970s was durability. Artists could take an Ovation on tour and they didn't have to worry about busting up their favorite Martin. The pickup system in them made them easy to amplify without mics and feedback. The Lyrachord back, which was adapted from materials used to make helicopter radomes, could take a big hit and not even scratch, much less crack. So somebody at Ovation got the idea to make a cheap version of their popular round-back instruments and make it even more durable and affordable. The Applause took Ovation's round back, added a laminated top, and an aluminum neck with the headstock, tuners, and frets all integrated into one piece. The result was a nearly indestructible guitar that sounded like crap. It also just looked cheap and silly. The neck on these things felt weird, like a hollow aluminum tube

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

1966 Fender Jazzmaster

In 1958, Fender introduced the Jazzmaster to its line in an attempt to attract legit jazz guitarists. The intended clientele proved to be far more conservative than expected, but the surf music wave of the early 60s loved the Jazzmaster. The guitar features a number of unique features, most especially a two-channel circuit for the pickups. A switch on the upper horn allowed the player to isolate just the front pickup and adjust the volume and tone separate from the main channel, which had a standard volume and tone control and a three-way toggle switch. The Jazzmaster pickups were a quasi-soapbar shape, single coils, which had a darker tone than Teles and Strats. The bridge tone is thick and defined while the neck pickup could get dark, jazzy tones. One of the unexpected things I discovered about Jazzmaster is that they are a total funk machine. The blend of neck and bridge is perfect for funk! The instrument’s neck is slim and the offset body makes it feel like the upper registers are

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

Travis Bean TB1000A Guitar

The Travis Bean guitar’s have become very collectible over the years. The idea was to have an all-aluminum path for string vibrations from nut to the bridge. This model is the upscaled “Artist” model with a carved top and block inlays. The aluminum neck prevents warping or shifting of the neck. Players reported that the TB guitars were “lively” and responsive. I’m not sure I’d want to play one on an outdoor gig in temps below 70 degrees, though. According to Travisbeanguitars.com, only 755 of these were built. They are far from cheap, but they are a unique historical example of an innovative period in the instrument’s evolution.