1969 Gibson Melody Maker
Solid-body 'SG'-style electric guitar
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1969 Gibson Melody Maker
At the very end of the 1960s, the Gibson Melody Maker was SG shaped, and sporting a walnut finish. It had undergone numerous changes since it's introduction three years earlier: a single-cutaway Les Paul style, the most familiar double cutaway style, and finally the SG shapes - first in Pelham blue or Sparkling Burgundy, and finally in Walnut with a cream scratchplate.
Walnut was a finish new to Gibson - first appearing on solid bodies in the 1968 price lists, and remaining popular throughout the 1970s. It was allowed to extend to the front of the headstock on some instruments; a subtle change but another capable of reducing production time and costs.
Different body shape - same guitar
All 1960s Melody Makers were made in the Gibson Kalamazoo plant alongside the SG, Les Paul and ES335 guitars - despite the body shape change from the traditional double-cutaway body style (see a 1964 Gibson Melody Maker) they were mostly the same. The body was still all-mahogany (South American), with a set (glued in) mahogany neck (although a shade thinner at the nut) and rosewood fingerboard. The circuitry and PU380 Melody Maker pickups were identical, despite being mounted to a different shaped scratchplate.
These were well-built guitars with a high-quality nitrocellulose finish and the same tropical hardwoods as much more expensive models. The somewhat simplified electronics and hardware allowed Gibson to offer a very well built guitar at a very competitive price.
The 1969 Melody Maker D had a zone 1 price of $212.50; cheaper than a two-pickup SG Special at $265, but more expensive than the single pickup SG Junior which was $199.50. The single pickup Melody Maker was $179.50, the three-pickup Melody Maker III, $225.
From the 1970 Gibson solid bodies catalogue
The greatest value ever in a solid body electric with full-sized neck and scale length. Acclaimed by players, teachers and students for its distinctive sound, sensative pick-ups and feather-light touch. The MM-D features full-sized neck and scale length.
The Gibson Melody Maker was shipped from 1959, with numbers rising to a peak in 1965. This situation didn't last, however, as sales immediately started to drop. The period 1968-1970 was the least sucessful, with a little over 1000 instruments shipped in each of those years - compared to almost 12000 in 1965. This makes the walnut SG-styled Melody Makers rare in comparison to other configurations. (see the full Gibson Melody Maker shipping figures).
Melody Maker controls, as described above, are body, rather than scratchplate mounted. The circuitry for this twin pickup model is two volume and two tone controls (all part TX1158) and a three way switch, allowing bridge, neck, or both pickups. In the guitar shown the pots are made by CTS (they start with the code 137) and are dated to December 1968 / January 1969.
US ebay listings
Current price: $1100.00
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Current price: $1799.00
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