GIBSON | SOLID BODIES | MELODY MAKER

Gibson Melody Maker

Gibson's affordable solid body

1964 Gibson Melody Maker

A 1964 Gibson Melody Maker in sunburst finish

1969 Gibson Melody Maker

A 1969 Gibson Melody Maker in walnut finish

1960 Gibson guitar catalogue

The first catalogue apperance of the Melody Maker was in 1960.

The Gibson Melody Maker is an absolutely legendary Gibson solid body guitar. It isn't necessarily at the top of the list of classic models, but just in terms of sales it was absolutely huge, with over 47000 Melody Makers shipped in a relatively short period between 1959 and 1970. In that time, and since, the Melody Maker has earned itself many devoted fans, who prefer it to more expensive models. Perhaps not as iconic as the Gibson SG or Les Paul models, but how many classic garage, punk or grunge riffs were blasted out with a Gibson Melody Maker? It was the ultimate beginners model, and was also available in a 3/4 size model. In fact, the 3/4 size Gibson Melody Maker actually outsold the regular scale model in 1959, though in no other year. Except for a brief hiatus in the early 1970s, the Gibson Melody Maker remained an important part of the Gibson range for the majority of the next half century.

The Melody Maker was built in the famous Gibson plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It changed a lot in the time of it's production, more so than probably any other model; it had three distinct body styles between 1960 and 1967, but always with the same basic construction and hardware: a mahogany neck glued to a mahogany body, a rosewood fingerboard with simple mother of pearl dot position markers, and between one and three single coil PU380 pickups. These were mounted to the scratchplate and height adjustable with two screws above and below the pickup. The simple controls and input jack were also scratchplate-mounted on all but the SG-styled guitars. A vibrola tailpiece was optional; usually the Gibson GV19 vibrola in conjunction with a compensating bridge - as seen on certain Gibson SGs.

Gibson Melody Maker body styles

The Melody Maker shipped in quite large numbers in 1959, but the first catalogue appearance of the Melody Maker was not until the Guitars & Amplifiers catalogue of 1960. 1959 shipping figures were great for the Gibson Melody Maker, 1960 less so, despite the addition of a dual pickup model, the Melody maker D. The 1959 and 1960 Gibson Melody Maker had a single-cutaway Les Paul-style body shape. This changed to the double cutaway Les Paul Junior style in mid 1961. This was by far the most popular body design, at least in terms of sales figures. In late 1966 or early 1967 the design changed again, finally adopting the Gibson SG style.

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.

Finish options for the Gibson Melody Maker

The earliest Melody Makers were generally available in Gibson's classic Sunburst nitrocellulose finish. In fact this was the only finish listed right through to 1964, although occasional examples were shipped in the translucent Cherry used on the Gibson SG line, certainly as early as 1963 (see a 1964 Gibson Melody Maker in Sunburst finish). Then through 1965, Sunburst was discontinued with only Cherry offered in 1965 and April 1966 price lists. In late 1966, with the change to the SG-style body, Cherry was also discontinued; the Gibson Melody Maker was now offered in Pelham Blue and Sparkling Burgundy finishes - with a natural mahogany neck. Walnut finish (See a 1969 Gibson Melody Maker in Walnut finish). seems to have been available as a finish option from as early as 1968, though it is not listed in price lists until March 1970, replacing all previous finishes. The Melody Maker's final price list inclusion was in the September 1970 list.

Throughout the early 1970s, the Melody Maker was replaced by various short lived SG variants, such as the SG100/200/250 (see the 1972 solid bodies catalogue) and the SG-I and SG-II (see the 1973 solid bodies catalogue).

1960s Gibson Melody Makers

Finally in 1976/77 the Melody maker was revived, and was shipped in moderate numbers compared to in it's heyday. In the first run (1959-1970) just under 50,000 Melody Makers were shipped (more Gibson Melody Maker shipping data).

Gibson Melody Maker guitar case

From 1959, the Melody Maker was offered with an optional case, Durabilt case, model 114. As an entry level model, there was no upgrade option; this case was exclusive to the Melody Maker. From June 1965, the suggested case was Durabilt, model 154. But when the body style changed to the same shape and size as the SG, it was offered with any of the SG's case options. Durabilt case 116, Archcraft case 316, Oblong case 1237 or Faultless case 0537.

In recent times, there have been numerous Gibson Melody Maker reissues, in all three body styles: single cutaway, doublecut and SG. Even a Joan Jett Melody Maker. Various finish and price points have been offered but none compare to the early 1960s instruments. Even entry level Gibson guitars in the early 1960s were made out of very nice pieces of wood; mahogany and rosewood in this case, the likes of which are simply not available in large quantities today. Original 1950s/60s Melody Makers are still affordable, and great playing guitars; especially with upgraded hardware for improved tuning and intonation. A lot of old Gibson Melody Makers have had their single coil pickups replaced by P90 pickups, or mini-humbuckers. Some of these have been irreversibly modified in their upgrades, decreasing value considerably; but these are fantastic for every day players, and the irony is that they are potentially better instruments.

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Gibson Melody Maker for sale

VINTAGE 1959 USA GIBSON MELODY MAKER Pick Guard LOADED / 59 Pots / BUMBLE BEE CAP

CLEVELAND, OHIO, 44130, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$549

LOOK:: You will Never See a more complete 1959 Loaded Complete guard comes with screws, removed from a 1 owner, 59 Melody maker, Central lab 59 POTS dated 25th week, Bumble bee cap, vintage top hat knobs, early 59 large pickup, NO cracks, NO ISSUES . perfect patina for your vintage correct 59 Melody maker Les paul JR !!! LOOK the guard was un screwed and un solidered from the body ground this one is a must for your vintage correct restoration... more

Vintage 1965 Gibson Melody Maker Electric Guitar Cherry Red w / Hard Case

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, 10002, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1495

Excellent condition vintage 1965 Gibson Melody Maker. Plays and sounds killer. Setup for wraptailpiece. Plays best this way. Original pickup is warm and strong and full of vintage Gibson tone. Comes with a good hard case. Guitar is exactly as pictured. Buyer pays $75 shipping in the USA, $125 to Hawaii or Alaska, $300 International, $350 to Australia. Pay Pal Accepted. International Buyers – Please Note: Import duties, taxes, and charges are not included in the item price or shipping cost. ... more

Vintage 1963 Gibson Melody Maker D double pickup model

PALM BEACH FLORIDA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$2199

Perfect entry-level vintage Gibson solidbody with all the golden-era craftsmanship. Two strong original pickups with familiar Les Paul control layout for tonal variety. Nice full neck profile with excellent upper fret access. Solid mahogany body topped off with a gorgeous sunburst finish and gold reflector knobs. Original full height frets with hardly any wear. Professionally set up and adjusted to play great right out of the box. Untouched original factory wiring. Rock solid neck joint with no ... more

Vintage 1960's Gibson Maestro Vibrola complete all original- Melody Maker, SG

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, 10023, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$425

I'm offering this all original vintage Gibson "Maestro Vibrola" vibrato unit complete including the original arm retaining screw and teflon washers, as well as the 3 spacer grommets and fastening screws. These suspension mounted vibratos were stock on many 1960's Gibsons like Melody Makers, SGs and other solid bodies up until 1967 when they switched to the flush mounted unit. If your guitar has 3 holes behind the tailpiece with little circles around them, this is the correct vibrola unit for it-... more

1965 Gibson Melody Maker gibson les paul r9 pickups poor mans 59

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, 60622, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1035

1965 Gibson Melody Maker gibson les paul r9 pickups poor mans 59. Here's an interesting one, 1960's Gibson Melody Maker that has been turned into a Rock & Roll Animal. I remembered I had a set of Gibson re-issue PAF's from a Gibson Les Paul R9. They are now mounted into this guitar along with four Gibson volume and tone knobs that were also pulled from the r9. The finish has been stripped (hey John Lennon did it all the time), the bridge is a Badass in the classic Joan Jett and Pat Travers ... more

60s ORIGINAL GIBSON MAESTRO SHORT VIBROLA TAILPIECE FROM 60s MELODY MAKER

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA, 33141, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$145

60s ORIGINAL GIBSON MAESTRO SHORT VIBROLA IN GREAT SHAPE FROM 60s GIBSON MELODY MAKER GUITAR TREMOLO ARM IS LOST ORIGINAL BUSHINGS AND SCREWS INCLUDED * FOR GIBSON MELODY MAKER, SG SPECIAL, SG JUNIOR, FIREBIRD, FLYING V IT LOOK WAY BETTER BY EYE THAN PICTURES... more

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There are 5 comments on this article so far. Add your comment

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Robert Gomez Comment left 7th April 2015 11:11:24 reply
Good day to you I have an Gibson melody Maker I believe it is the D model, I am looking for a body (Trans Red) can you help me... Thank You
Willabe Storms Comment left 19th February 2014 22:10:38 reply
1959 Melody Maker has a 3/4" to 7/8" wide pickup... This is the only year for that pickup... This is a Killer pickup, I want a 1959 Gibson Melody Maker... All guitar players praise this pickup...
rapier66 Comment left 13th May 2013 15:03:09 reply
The stock pickups are just a bit too weak and thin for me, at least compared to a typical humbucker... fine for rhythm work (which is why they work great in punk outfits I suppose), but come solo time they tend to whine instead of wail! Mini humbucker upgrade essential.
cooper Comment left 3rd March 2013 07:07:39 reply
Is there a humbucker that fits the melody maker without need for enlarging pickup routes? Must be completely reversible
SonicSpoon Comment left 6th June 2012 20:08:14 reply
Stick a humbucker in the bridge and a decent set of keys. Keep it simple. A custom modded melody maker beats the stock guitar hands down. These were all under $400 a couple years back, and $150 for a beater. What happened?

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