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1964 Gibson Melody Maker

Solid-body double cutaway electric guitar

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 indeed fine guitars for the price: high quality wood, a desirable nitrocellulose finish, but with simple electronics, resulting in a lightweight, easy playing, great sounding instrument, but with less tonal range than higher end instruments. Simple, lightweight and pretty effective. The body design did change over the years, and there are three main Melody Maker phases: initially a single-cutaway Les Paul style, then the double cutaway as shown here, and finally the same body shape as the SG series of guitars.

Quality build 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. By comparison, a single pickup SG Junior was $165 (or $184 with vibrola) at this time.

1964 Gibson catalog

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, sensitive 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 heel detail
Gibson Melody Maker heel detail, with centrally-placed strap button
Gibson Melody Maker
The Melody Maker was fitted with the same GP19 Vibrola as fitted to the Gibson SG Special, SG Junior, SG-TV and Kalamazoo KG guitars.
Gibson Melody Maker headstock detail
Gibson Melody Maker headstock detail. The Melody Maker headstock did not flare out like other Gibson models; i.e. no extra 'wings' glued on the two edges.
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
Silk screened 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 Deluxe strip tuning keys
Kluson Deluxe strip tuning keys, marked 'Gibson Deluxe'
Gibson Melody Maker truss not
Beneath the truss rod cover. The truss rod is adjustable by tightening the standard Gibson 5/16" hex nut

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 P-90 Pick Up, Gig Bag & Strap Locks. Previously played in excellent condition from a non smoking home. Includes gig bag and Schalller strap locks. Orginally purchased at Haight Ashbury Music Center San Francisco. Sold as is. No Returns. Good luck bidding please note buyer must purchase additional insurance due to value of this item. Thank you and good luck bidding. Buyer pays for additional shipping insurance on this item
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1965 Gibson Melody Maker-Original Alligator Case-Excellent Cond 23 & 1 / 2" Scale

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1965 Gibson Melody Maker w / Original Alligator Case Classic Mahogany body finished in classic Gibson red
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gibson melody maker.

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2010 Gibson Melody Maker Refin w /  Gigbag - N

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1965 Gibson Melody Maker D Double Vintage Electric Guitar Cherry w /  Vibrola

1965 Gibson Melody Maker D Double Vintage Electric Guitar Cherry w / Vibrola

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Up for sale, a 1965 Gibson Melody Maker D (Double) in excellent condition and in perfect working order, complete with its original nickel-plated Maestro Vibrola tailpiece. Finished in a gloss Cherry nitro lacquer, this Melody Maker D features solid Honduran mahogany body construction with a one-piece mahogany neck capped with a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard. The pair of robust-sounding single coil pickups combine a Fender-esque snap and twang with the fuller midrange and low end punch that ... more
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Gibson Melody Maker Jonas Brothers signed

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Gibson Melody Maker
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There are 6 comments on this article so far. Add your comment

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Bruce Comment left 16th October 2013 07:07:14 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 18:06:05 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 20:08:27 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 27th June 2012 06:06:36 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 16:04:09 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 10th May 2012 01:01:55 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.


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1970 Rose_Morris catalog1970 Rose-Morris catalog, dated April 1970. It featured 6 electric guitars, 32 acoustic guitars, 3 basses and 1 steel guitar. It contains the following instruments, over 20 pages: Electric guitars: Shaftesbury 3261, 3262, 3264, 3265, 3400; Top Twenty 1970; Bass: Shaftesbury 3263, 3266; Top Twenty 1971; Acoustic guitars: Eko Rio Bravo, Rio Bravo 12, Ranchero, Ranchero 12, Colorado, Ranger, Ranger Folk, Ranger 12; Aria 1674, 1675, 1676, 1679, 1680, 1695, 'John Pearse' Jumbo, 'John Pearse' Folk; Rose-Morris 15-11, Kansas, Georgian, Florida; Suzuki 1663, 1664, 1665, 3054, 3055, 3060; Tatay 1713, 1714, 1715; Peerless 3052; Steel guitar: Aria 3425

1971 Rose-Morris 'Exciting Electrics Wonderful Westerns' catalog

1971 Rose_Morris catalogThe sixteen-page 1971 Rose-Morris catalog featured electric guitars by Rose-Morris' own brand, Shaftesbury, and budget brand Top Twenty; aswell as acoustics by Eko, Aria, and for the first time Ovation. The catalog contains the following instruments: Electric guitars: Shaftesbury 3261, 3264, 3265, 3400, 3402; Top Twenty 1970; Bass: Shaftesbury 3263, 3266; Top Twenty 1971; Acoustic guitars: Ovation: Balladeer, 12 String, Glen Campbell, Glen Campbell 12 string; Eko Rio Bravo, Rio Bravo 12, Ranger, Ranger Folk, Ranger 12, Colorado, Ranchero, Ranchero 12, Studio 'L'; Rose-Morris Florida; Aria 'John Pearse' Jumbo, 'John Pearse' Folk

1972 Fender Precision bass

1972 Fender PrecisionA detailed look at an early 1970s Fender Precision bass guitar in custom black finish, with rosewood fretboard. 1972 list price, $307.50. The Fender Precision had been shipping since at least very early 1952 - with just one re-design circa 1957. This example, then, shows a model already two decades old, but barely changed since the '57 revamp. Fender got it right first time around, and although there are numerous minor cosmetic differences, the essence of this bass is effectively the same as it was in '52: a simple, single pickup instrument with a GREAT sound. Check out the demo video through an old Ampeg B15. It's no wonder this is the bass that everybody wants!

1967 Vox Stroller

1967 Vox StrollerThe Vox Stroller was the brand's entry level electric solid body guitar, fitted with just one pickup and a fixed tailpiece. Although aimed at student guitarists, it wasn't a terrible instrument, but did lack somewhat in adjustability, having no accessible truss rod and only a floating rosewood bridge. But this example is actually quite an improvement on earlier versions, with a standard 1/4" jack and a solid mahogany body. 1967 price £18 2s. JMI ceased UK guitar production in late '67, and combined with decreasing demand for the Stroller, this surely must be one of the last examples shipped.

1963 Vox Clubman Bass (left handed)

1963 Vox Clubman Bass left handedA nice example of the Vox Clubman II bass, built by JMI in Dartford, Kent in 1963. This is a lightweight bass, short (30") scale and very easy to play. It is an early example, and as such has a thin black scratchplate and side mounted, coaxial output jack. JMI offered left handed examples of their solid body Vox guitars and basses at 10% premium. Production numbers are unclear, but left-handed examples rarely come up for sale

1977 Gibson ES Artist 'prototype'

1977 Gibson ES Artist prototypeNot to be confused with the Gibson ES Artist launched by Gibson in 1979; this ES Artist was an early model designed by the Gibson research and development team in Kalamazoo in 1977, the instruments themselves constructed by Gibson artist Chuck Burge. It was planned for launch as a high end semi acoustic with 335-style construction (central maple block) and innovative circuitry - but was pulled at the last minute, being deemed too expensive. Apparently, several examples were produced with varying specifications, though exactly how many actually left the Kalamazoo plant is unclear. Certainly two guitars were sold to LaVonne Music by Gibson in around 1980. Read more about the development of this guitar, with details from Chuck Burge and the story of it's sale to LaVonne music

1959 Hofner Committee

1959 Hofner CommitteeThe Hofner Committee was a truly beautiful guitar produced in Germany, primarily for the UK market. It was a large bodied (initially 17 1/2") guitar with a carved spruce top, available as an acoustic or electric guitar. By the early sixties the carved top was replaced with a laminate, and although still a very fine guitar, the earlier carved top examples, with frondose headstock (like the example shown here) are far more highly prized amongst musicians and vintage guitar collectors.

1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean

1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins TennesseanThe Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean, or model 6119 was Gretsch's best selling hollow body of the 1960s. This wonderfully faded example from 1965 was originally Dark Cherry Red, but has turned a mid-orange brown. The original color, however, can be seen underneath the pickup surrounds. 1965 specs: maple body, two-piece neck, Brazilian rosewood fretboard and Hi-Lo 'Tron single coil pickups. Nickel plated Gretsch Bigsby tailpiece.

1965 Gretsch 'For the Spectacular Sound of the Times' guitar and amp catalog

1965 Gretsch catalogThe 1965 Gretsch catalog, or catalog #32, featured 10 hollow body electric guitars, including the newly launched Gretsch Viking; four solid body electrics, including the Astro Jet - making it's only catalog appearance; just one bass, the single pickup PX6070; nine acoustics and 12 tube amplifiers. Pride of place went to the Chet Atkins Country Gentleman that adorned both the front and back covers. 24 pages, six of which are in full color.

Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret ends

Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret endsLoose frets are especially problematic in certain old guitars, but are generally very easy to fix. You'll be amazed at the difference you can make with just a few tools, a bit of knowledge, and a little time. Fixing loose frets can eliminate fret buzz, remove sharp fret ends, and greatly improve the tone of any guitar. If your luthier bill will be greater than the value of your guitar, definitely time to have a go yourself!

1966 Hagstrom 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog (Merson USA)

1966 Hagstrom guitar catalogHagstrom guitars were distributed in the mid-1960s United States by Merson of USA. This eight page 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog, printed in two-colors contained six solid body electrics, three solid body basses, two electric acoustic guitars, two electric acoustic basses and five acoustics.

1965 Hofner President

1965 Hofner PresidentThe President was produced by Hofner in Bubenreuth, Germany, specifically for Selmer, who distributed the brand in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and other commonwealth nations. The President was a hollow body electric acoustic, available as a full body or thinline, and with blonde or brunette finish. It was a great playing guitar that sold fairly well in the second half of the 1950s, throughout the 1960s, and into the very early 1970s. The example shown here is a full-body depth guitar in blonde - and as a 1965 guitar, one of the last to feature the rounded Venetian cutaway. From late 1965 until 1972, the President sported a sharp Florentine cut. Naturally, such an electric acoustic suggests jazz and blues, but many of the original British Hofner President players were part of the rock 'n roll, skiffle and beat scenes of the late 50s and early 60s.

1963 1964 Fender catalog

Fender 1963 catalogue"The Choice of Professional and Student Musicians Everywhere" This eight page catalogue was included as an insert in the 1963 annual "school music" issue of Downbeat magazine (September 1963). As well as keyboards and pedal steels, this catalog contains seven guitars, three basses and ten amplifiers - from student guitars such as the Musicmaster and Duotone to professional models like the new Jaguar.