Gibson Melody Maker, Harmony H22 bass, Vox Ultrasonic
1969 Gibson Melody Maker guitarHarmony H22 bassVox Ultrasonic guitar, with built-in effects
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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.

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The Gibson Melody Maker has stayed in the Gibson range, in one form or another, for the majority of the last half century. Built in the famous Gibson plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Of course it has changed alot in that time, but has earned itself many devoted fans, who prefer it to more expensive models. Perhaps not as iconic as the SG or Les Paul models, but how many classic garage, punk or grunge riffs were blasted out with a Gibson Melody Maker?

The first catalogue appearance of the Melody Maker was the 1960 Gibson catalogue although it had been shipped since 1959. The first incarnation was a single-cutaway Les Paul shaped guitar, the second was double-cutaway Les Paul Junior style, and finally SG style. All had the same basic construction; 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 SG guitars.

1964 Gibson catalogueFrom 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 Melody Maker was generally available in sunburst and cherry nitrocellulose finishes. Later pelham blue, sparkling burgundy and finally walnut finish (See a 1969 Gibson Melody Maker in walnut finish). Production ceased in 1970.

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).

In recent times, there have been numerous Melody Maker reissues, in various body styles, but they do not 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 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 Makers for sale

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There are 5 comments on this article so far. Add your comment
SonicSpoon Comment left 6th June 2012 20:08:14
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?
cooper Comment left 3rd March 2013 07:07:39
Is there a humbucker that fits the melody maker without need for enlarging pickup routes? Must be completely reversible
rapier66 Comment left 13th May 2013 15:03:09
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.
Willabe Storms Comment left 19th February 2014 22:10:38
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...
Robert Gomez Comment left 7th April 2015 11:11:24
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

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