1964 Gibson Melody Maker

Solid-body double cutaway electric guitar

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Gibson Melody Maker specifications | Shipping stats | 1964 Gibson Melody Maker | 1969 Gibson Melody Maker

1964 Gibson Melody Maker

1964 Gibson Melody Maker

Model: 1964 Gibson Melody Maker, sunburst finish
Pickups: One Gibson PU380 single-coil Melody Maker pickup.
Scale: 24 3/4"
Body: Mahogany body. 17 1/4" long, 13" wide, 1 3/8" thick.
Neck: One piece mahogany with adjustable truss rod. Rosewood fingerboard with pearl dot markers. 22 frets. Width at nut 1 5/8"
Hardware: 1 volume and 1 tone control. Gibson GV19 vibrola (optional) and TPBR bridge. Kluson 301V tuning keys
Weight: 2.62 kg
Headstock pitch: 14° (13°?)

Very many guitar players of the 1960s started out on a Gibson Melody Maker; they were very fine guitars for the price; high quality wood, a desireable nitrocellulose finish, but with simple electronics, resulting in a lightweight, easy playing, great sounding instrument, but with less tonal range than higher end instruments. There basic body design did change over the years; initially a single-cutaway Les Paul style, then the doublecutaway as shown here, and finally the same body shape as the SG series of guitars.

Quality woodwork on an entry level guitar

The Gibson workmanship, materials, construction and finish are every bit as good as many higher end guitars - these were made in the Gibson Kalamazoo plant alongside the SG, Les Paul and ES335 guitars - but without expensive inlays and binding, and using simple controls and cheaper, plastic covered single coil pickups. Just like the majority of 1960s Gibson solid bodies, the Melody Maker was all-mahogany (South American), with a set (glued in) neck. The typical Gibson look is completed with a nitrocellulose sunburst finish. Production costs were kept down by giving these guitars a slightly narrower headstock (most Gibson guitars have two extra glued-on wings to give extra width to the headstock), body routing on the front only, and simplified controls which could be assembled away from the guitar itself. Combined with simple single ply plastic parts and a lower-cost hardware, such as the PU380 Melody Maker pickup, the 1964 Melody maker had a zone 1 price of $127.50, or $146.50 with Gibson GV19 vibrola. A single pickup SG Junior was $165 (or $184 with vibrola) at this time.

1964 Gibson catalogue

From the 1964 Gibson catalogue

Greatest value ever in a solid body electric with full-sized neck and scale length. Acclaimed by players. teachers and students for its fine sound. Big tone, sensative pick-up, feather-light touch and beautiful sunburst finish.

The Gibson Melody Maker was produced in large numbers between 1959 and 1970, with almost 25000 single-pickup Melody Makers produced in this time. In 1964 alone 3685 of them were shipped - the second highest shipping figure after 1965 (see the full Gibson Melody Maker shipping figures).

Gibson Melody Maker fitted with TPBR wraparound bridge
Melody Maker guitars were fitted with the TPBR wraparound bridge; nickel plated in this case
The scratchplate of this guitar has the words Melody Maker at the end of the neck
The scratchplate of this guitar has the words "Melody Maker" at the end of the neck
Gibson PU380 Melody Maker pickup
The 1960s Melody Maker guitars were equipped with one (or two) single coil Gibson PU380 pickups
Gold Gibson bell-knobs were fitted to mid 1960s Melody Makers; one volume control and one tone control
Gold Gibson bell-knobs were fitted to mid 1960s Melody Makers; one volume control and one tone control
Gibson Melody Maker headstock detail
Gibson Melody Maker headstock detail
Gibson Melody Maker reverse headstock detail with Kluson Deluxe tuning keys
Gibson Melody Maker reverse headstock detail with Kluson Deluxe 301V tuning keys
Gibson Melody Maker logo
Gibson Melody Maker logo
The serial number stamped onto the reverse of this headstock dates this guitar as a 1964 instrument
The serial number stamped onto the reverse of this headstock dates this guitar as a 1964 instrument
Gibson Melody Maker heel detail
Gibson Melody Maker heel detail

Melody Maker controls, as described above, are scratchplate mounted. The circuitry is very simple; just a volume and tone control respectively parts BA811 3701 and BA811 3707. In the guitar shown the pots are made by Centralab (they start with the code 134) and are dated to August / September 1964.

Gibson Melody Maker reverse body
Gibson Melody Maker body routes and controls mounted to the scratchplate

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Gibson Melody Maker Sunburst 1963 Used

Current price: $1449.00
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Vintage 1964 Gibson Melody Maker D - HSC

Current price: $1299.00
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Time left: 5d 42m

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Bruce Comment left 15th October 2013 22:10:14 reply
This was a great article. Learned quite a bit, would have liked some info on the dual pick up model. I have a 62 d model and it is a way cool instrument. Thanks for the article.
me Comment left 3rd January 2013 07:07:05 reply
Why would anyone modify a perfectly functional musical instrument? Don't blame the the tuners, learn how to tune, don't blame the electronics, learn how to play while you listen. Then make your choices. IDIOTS.
Dan Comment left 22nd July 2012 11:11:27 reply
I have a cherry mm also a 64 - do you know how many were cherry vs sb. Any other colors available? TIA Dan
anonymous Comment left 26th June 2012 21:09:36 reply
I inherited my dad's Melody Maker a few years back - just like the guitar pictured above, but without the vibrola. I think it is a 1963. Great condition but the original tuning keys have been swapped out for some individual Klusons. It keeps tune better now, buy will this affect value? What would this be worth please?
nelljohn Comment left 20th June 2012 07:07:09 reply
My first guitar! Ok my second guitar, but my first proper guitar. Identical in every way. I covered it with stickers, then proceeded to thrash the life out of it. I wish I still had it seeing the money these go for now. Who'd have thought that these would go from punk throwabout to respectable vintage collectable in 25 years
jay keele Comment left 9th May 2012 16:04:55 reply
Sweet guitars. I've owned 7 Melody makers since 1978, including a 64 identical to this one - and i've loved them all. the best players had replacement humbuckers and tuners, but even the stock single coils rock out. So light so good looking and so easy to play.