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Gibson Sonex Guitar

Solid body Gibson electric guitar, with Multi-Phonic body design

1982 Gibson Sonex 180 Deluxe1982 Gibson Sonex 180 Deluxe - have a closer look at this guitar here
Gibson Sonex logo

The entry/mid level solid body guitars being produced by Gibson in the 1970s such as the Melody Maker, Marauder and S-1 were starting to lose their popularity by the late 1970s. Shipping totals for 1979 were barely reaching double figures - not even that in some cases, and by 1980 these models were replaced by two new ranges of affordable guitars, the mid-level Firebrand series guitars, and an innovative new entry level Gibson Sonex series. The Gibson Sonex-180 guitars took the styling of a Les Paul, but married it with innovative new construction that had "brilliant harmonic reproduction and superior sustain" yet was considerably less expensive to produce.

Gibson Sonex ...capable of creating tonal qualities very similar to those found in our top of the line wood bodied instruments. For example the maple/mahogany combination used in our Les Paul guitars.

But most importantly to Gibson, as a company, was the fact that these guitars were a separately authorised line; i.e. they could be sold by a whole new network of dealers who did not stock Gibson's higher end products. To this end, they were not branded 'Gibson' but 'Gibson Guitar Company USA' (and briefly 'Sonex by Gibson' in mid 1982). Read more about the Gibson Sonex and Gibson's early eighties product alignment scheme here.

Gibson Sonex Resonwood construction

Gibson Sonex Multiphonic construction

The view inside the neck pocket of a Sonex-180 deluxe. Because this area is traditionally left unpainted, the differences in Resonwood, and the hardwood (maple) core are clearly visible

Gibson Sonex advertisement from 1981
1980 Gibson Sonex owners manual

The Sonex Deluxe, Standard and Custom were described in the 1980 Sonex owners manual, giving details of the electronics and their operation, aswell as care of the guitar in general

Like the Marauder and S-1, the Gibson Sonex guitars were constructed with a bolt-on neck, rather than a traditional Gibson set-neck; but rather than a solid wood body, the Sonex series used a Multi-phonic construction, which was both cheap to produce and with highly desirable audio qualities. It comprised an inner solid tone wood core sandwiched between slices of a composite wood material named Resonwood; "a product that will be heralded for years in the future as a first" and one that was "astounding players" with it's "extraordinary sustain and harmonic reproduction" This was not the first time Gibson had used such materials of course, having produced the Kalamazoo range of guitars and basses from a similar pressed wood material 15 years earlier. The image to the right shows the top layer of Resonwood, over the solid maple core.

The "Revolutionary" SONEX series was first demonstrated at the Chicago NAMM fair, June 1980. There were three models available initially, the Sonex-180 Deluxe, Sonex-180 Standard and the Sonex-180 Custom, priced (in 1980) at $299, $375 and $449 respectively; the next cheapest Gibson guitar available in that year was the 335-S standard (solid body version of the famous Gibson ES-335) which was $499. In comparison, the Les Paul Standard was $849 at this time.

All three Gibson Sonex models were listed in the 1980 Gibson catalogue, but by 1981, the Standard had been dropped, being replaced by a short lived and barely known model, the GGC 700. Theoretically this was not a Sonex as it had a mahogany (rather than Resonwood/maple) body with a set neck - but in all other ways it was identical to the Sonex-180 Standard (including headstock branding, pickups and circuitry), and it was placed in the sonex series in the one price list it was included in (January 1982). Another Sonex, first priced in this list, was the Sonex Artist with active electronics, and a set (glued) neck, which was a lot more expensive than the other models at $799 - see the 1981 Gibson Sonex pre-owners 'manual'. It was an extension of the Artist range of guitars with Moog expansion and compression circuitry, first developed for the RD Artist in the mid 1970s.

By the price list of June 1982 the Custom and GGC 700 had been dropped. No Sonex guitars were listed in the 1983 Gibson catalogue, and by 1984 only the Deluxe model was included in price lists, now at $419, in fact the final inclusion of any Sonex model in a US price list.

Gibson Sonex Advertising

Electric guitar advertisements originally published from 1981 onwards. Click on the images for larger copies. Check out other vintage Gibson advertisements

Gibson Sonex-180 deluxe - Only the Price Brings it Back to Earth

Gibson Sonex-180 deluxe - Only the Price Brings it Back to Earth (1981)
The Sonex series were the most competitively priced guitars in the early eighties Gibson line; styled like a Les Paul, but (at least in the case of the Deluxe) a third of the price. Gibson simply h...

Gibson Sonex-180 deluxe - Gibson Sonex. Only the price is cheap.

Gibson Sonex-180 deluxe - Gibson Sonex. Only the price is cheap. (1981)
February 1981 British advertisement for the new Sonex series of guitars from Gibson. This ad promotes the whole series, but pictures the entry level model, the Sonex-180 Deluxe. This ad was followe...

Gibson Sonex-180 deluxe - Sonex. Another first for Gibson technology.

Gibson Sonex-180 deluxe - Sonex. Another first for Gibson technology. (1981)
March 1981 UK advert for the Gibson Sonex series of guitars, following on from a similar advert placed the previous month. The guitar pictured is the Sonex-180 Deluxe, the entry level instrument i...

Gibson Sonex catalogue appearances

The short-lived Gibson Sonex series had little printed publicity. Click the thumbnails for a look through the catalogues in which the Sonex did appear.

1980 Gibson guitar, bass and banjo catalogue
1981 Sonex pre-owners manual
1981 UK Gibson catalogue (Rosetti)

Different Gibson Sonex models

A closer look at the differences between the three Sonex-180 guitars and the the Sonex Artist.

Gibson Sonex Deluxe

Gibson Sonex-180 Deluxe

BODY SPECIFICATIONS The new Gibson exclusive Multi-phonic™ body construction • Single cutaway design • Adjustable chrome plated Tune-0-Matic bridge with chrome plated stop-bar tailpiece • Uniquely shaped double sided fingerrest with white revealed edge • Two high output Humbucking 3-point adjustable exposed pickups that feature one black and one cream coil • 3-position toggle switch for pickup selection (individual or both pickups simultaneously) • Attractive, efficient black speed knobs • Body size: Length 17 1/4" width 13" depth 1 3/4"

NECK SPECIFICATIONS One piece select hardwood construction • Width at fingerboard nut 1 11/16" • Rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays and corresponding side dots • Individually enclosed chrome plated machine heads • Gibson truss rod with distinctive truss rod cover • 22 frets • 24 3/4" scale length

SONEX-180 DELUXE • Semi gloss Ebony finish (later White, Silver, and several high gloss finishes Candy Apple Red, Silverburst, Antique Fireburst and Electric Blue)

More about the Sonex 180 Deluxe

Gibson Sonex Standard

Gibson Sonex-180 Standard

BODY SPECIFICATIONS The new Gibson exclusive Multi-phonic™ body construction • Single cutaway design • Adjustable chrome plated Tune-0-Matic bridge with chrome plated stop-bar tailpiece • Uniquely shaped double sided fingerrest with white revealed edge • Two high output Gibson "Dirty Fingers" 3-point adjustable exposed pickups that feature one cream and one black coil • 3-position toggle switch for pickup selection (individual or both pickups simultaneously) • Coil tap switch to place either humbucking pickup into a single point non-humbucking mode • Attractive, efficient black speed knobs • Body size: Length 17 1/4" width 13" depth 1 3/4"

NECK SPECIFICATIONS One piece select hardwood construction • Width at fingerboard nut 1 11/16" • Rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays and corresponding side dots • Individually enclosed chrome plated machine heads • Gibson truss rod with distinctive truss rod cover • 22 frets • 24 3/4" scale length

SONEX-180 STANDARD • Ebony finish

Gibson Sonex Custom

Gibson Sonex-180 Custom

BODY SPECIFICATIONS The new Gibson exclusive Multi-phonic™ body construction • Single cutaway design • Adjustable chrome plated Tune-0-Matic bridge with chrome plated stop-bar tailpiece • Uniquely shaped double sided fingerrest with white revealed edge • Two high output Gibson "Dirty Fingers" 3-point adjustable exposed pickups that feature one cream and one black coil • 3-position toggle switch for pickup selection (individual or both pickups simultaneously) • Coil tap switch to place either humbucking pickup into a single point non-humbucking mode • Attractive, efficient black speed knobs • Body size: Length 17 1/4", width 13", depth 1 3/4"

NECK SPECIFICATIONS 3-piece solid maple construction • Width at finger board nut 1 11/16" • Ebony fingerboard with dot inlays and corresponding side dots • Individually enclosed chrome plated machine heads • Gibson truss rod with distinctive truss rod cover • 22 frets •24 3/4" scale length

SONEX-180 CUSTOM • Ebony or White finish (later Candy Apple Red)

Gibson Sonex Artist

Gibson Sonex Artist

BODY SPECIFICATIONS Exclusive Gibson multiphonic body construction • Single Venetian cutaway • Chrome-plated new design 3 point adjustable Tune-0-Matic bridge • Chrome-plated TP-6 fine tuning stop-bar tailpiece • Black fingerrest with black/white revealed edge • Active electronics featuring compression expansion, and bright mode circuitry and two compatible humbucking pickups • 3-position toggle switch for selecting either pickup individually or both simultaneously • Master volume control • Full function cut/boost individual bass and treble controls • Three mode switches controlling On/Off function of compression, expansion, and bright modes • Black speed knobs • Chrome-plated "Posi-Lok" strap buttons • Body size: Length 17 3/8" width 12 3/4" depth 1 3/4"

NECK SPECIFICATIONS Fixed heel, 3-piece laminated maple construction • Width at fingerboard nut 1 11/16" • Rosewood fingerboard with pearl dot inlays • Deluxe chrome-plated machine heads •Gibson truss rod with inscribed "ARTIST" truss rod cover • 22 frets • 24 3/4" scale length

SONEX ARTIST Candy Apple Red, Silverburst or Ivory finish

The following text is taken from Gibsons 1980 'Sonex by Gibson' leaflet entitled 'Only the price brings it back to earth'

You've never heard this kind of sound at this kind of price.

Gibson-Sonex™-180 is a totally new kind of guitar. The secret is in the exclusive, new Multi-phonic™ body design, featuring an incredibly durable and acoustical material called Resonwood™. Resonwood has the weight of mahogany and the density of maple. That means you get brilliant harmonic reproduction and superior sustain never before available on on electric guitar at this low price.

Gibson multi-phonic construction

The Sonex Multi-phonic™ body is composed of Resonwood surrounding an inner tone wood core. The tone wood core not only acts as the anchor point for the neck, it also adds acoustic resonance and exceptional body resilience. The Sonex body is so resilient, that it's structural properties survived extreme testing in temperatures ranging from 40° below to 180°F.

Sonex sustain. A very notable characteristic.

Gibson Sonex sustain, as compared to ash and laminate

The rock solid consistency of Resonwood gives the Sonex guitar incredible sustain capability. Gibson compared it to conventional ash/poplar laminate models and found there was no comparison. A Sonex Multi-phonic™ body delivered greater sustain than many guitars priced two and three times higher. And the Sonex-180 has the weight and feel of even the most expensive guitars. Pick it up. Play it.

Experience a Sonex instrument. It's unlike any guitar you've ever played.

Famous Gibson styling. Famous Gibson quality.

There are three guitar models to choose from in the Sonex Series, all with the popular Gibson single cutaway design. The Sonex-180 Deluxe features a rosewood, dot inlayed fingerboard and adjustable exposed coil high output Humbuckers™. Other Sonex-180 features include a three-position pick-up selector switch, Tune-0-Matic Bridge', stop bar tailpiece and volume/tone control speed knobs.

In addition to all the features offered on the Deluxe guitar, the Sonex Standard and Custom models feature famous Gibson 'Dirty Fingers' pickups, plus a coil top switch for even more versatility. And to really enhance your playability, the Custom has a three-piece maple neck and ebony fingerboard. The Sonex-180 Custom is also available in a striking white finish, as well as ebony.

Unlike comparably priced guitars, the Gibson Sonex series is made in the U.S., and is backed by a one year, limited warranty on all parts and labor. What's more, Sonex is backed by the strongest service center network in the industry.

Gibson guitars have shared the stage with some of the greatest rock names on earth. But never on earth has there been a Gibson guitar like the Sonex series. Designed for the future. But priced like time stood still.

Got an opinion on the contents of this page? Disagree with something written above? Please comment

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1984 Gibson Les Paul Guitar Body Only W /  Sonex-180 Deluxe Pickups Confederate

1984 Gibson Les Paul Guitar Body Only W / Sonex-180 Deluxe Pickups Confederate

West Palm Beach, Florida, 334**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


My research shows that this is a 1984 Gibson Les Paul guitar body, with confederate flag design on it. I do not know a whole lot about guitars , but I removed the pickups screws to show they are sonex 180 deluxe pickups. Includes is the Gibson hard case. I also removed the back plate to show the electrical , which all looks to be good condition. I plugged the guitar into an amp, and when touching pickups , I hear a little buzz; so I am assuming the guitar is in working order. There is a ... more
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Gibson Sonex-180 Deluxe 1982  Neck Only Made In USA

Gibson Sonex-180 Deluxe 1982 Neck Only Made In USA



For Sale Gibson Sonex -180 Deluxe 1982 Neck Only .There are some scratches and dents (see photos ) But Neck is Straight, Frets are ok , truss Rod Works Fine Some extra holes are drilled on the hill, but they are blocked. Neck is loaded with set of Grover Machine Heads . Comes with Original Neck Plate
... more
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Gibson Sonex-180 Deluxe 1981

Gibson Sonex-180 Deluxe 1981

Stolberg, 52***, GERMANY


Zum Verkauf steht eine gebrauchte Gibson Sonex-180, hergestellt im Jahr 1981 in USA
Die Gitarre hat aufgrund eines Transportschadens einen Halsbruch erlitten, dieser wurde geklebt. Das Griffbrett wurde gereinigt und mit speziellem Öl behandelt. Die Bünde wurden poliert und es wurden neue .009 Saiten aufgezogen. Die Elektronik wurde ebenfalls überprüft.
Auf der Oberfläche befinden sich einige Spielspuren. Die Bünde weisen zwar Abnutzungen auf, doch sorgen für ein angenehmes ... more
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GIBSON, SONEX-180 CUSTOM ELECTRIC GUITAR late 1970's. With original plush lined hard case
... more
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Gibson Sonex 180-Deluxe Silver 1981 Vintage Electric Guitar

Gibson Sonex 180-Deluxe Silver 1981 Vintage Electric Guitar

Ashton-under-Lyne, OL6***, UNITED KINGDOM


Welcome to the eBay shop of Sell Us Your Guitar
On this platform we are unable to arrange part exchange, viewings or direct prices
We advise finding our website where you can find direct prices and discuss all of the above!
Gibson Sonex 180-Deluxe Silver 1981 Vintage Electric Guitar
Here for sale we have a Gibson Sonex 180-Deluxe in Silver finish. Made in the USA in 1981, this guitar is a rare oddity from Gibson's history. During the early '80s, Gibson needed to diversify their line... more
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Gibson Sonex-180 Custom Electric Guitar 1980 - White (ageing, yellowing)

Gibson Sonex-180 Custom Electric Guitar 1980 - White (ageing, yellowing)

St. Helens, WA9***, UNITED KINGDOM


1980 Gibson Sonex-180 Custom electric guitar, made in USA with aftermarket hard case. These models are getting harder and harder to find now, especially in full working order. Looks the part for a guitar over 40 years old and plays really well. Everything functions as it should. Very slight crackle when using a couple of the pots but to be expected and will clear up no doubt with a bit of contact cleaner. The bridge could do with raising a hair on the treble side, but that would be my preference... more
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Zoltan Comment left 8th April 2022 19:07:16 reply
I bought a Gibson Sonex 180 cheap a few years ago (one of the dirty fingers pickups was dead, and the pickup selector switch was broken), I completely rewired the whole thing new pots, switches, pickups, everything. Put Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates humbuckers in it and it sounds awesome. Those dirty fingers pickups are a little too much for me anyway.
Darryl Comment left 8th March 2019 11:11:47 reply
Your comments I own a Sonex artist 81 which is an all silver guitar with what looks to be ebony fiberboard, but I have read nothing written about that color. Did Gibson make it silver?
Sandy Howitt Comment left 7th June 2014 20:08:13 reply
Value my guitar please. It's Sonex built in Nashville August 2008. Serial number 82260664 Thank you
vintageguitarandbass Comment left 25th October 2014 07:07:17 reply
Hi Sandy that serial number is from August 1980 - I guess you mistyped? The value will depend on the model of Sonex, condition, where you are selling it etc. Typically $400 - $800
jimelomany Comment left 9th July 2012 01:01:38 reply
Whats a ballpark value for a sonex artist? They seem pretty rare compared to the other models. I find them pretty intriguing really
Andy Comment left 4th June 2012 06:06:51 reply
My 1979 Sonex 180 Standard definitely has a real wood neck, my guts say mahogan based on the grain visible on the edges of the neck from over 32 years of Sabbath and AC/DC tunes, played both man and pimply youth, heavy as a laden mule but I'm still to find a lower, sweeter action than I somehow ended up with on this thing. Now I'm an old git I play it less as the weight gets to my Parkinson's affected neck, but it still holds fantastic tone and sustain for a bolt-on, very metal in the pre-thrash/death sense of the word.
Chris Chandler Comment left 27th December 2011 21:09:12 reply
"NECK SPECIFICATIONS One piece select hardwood construction" Really? Even the headstock? Are you completely sure. Completely? When the headstock on my 1983 Sonex snapped off it was anything But wood! It was white composite material. The only wood on that neck was the fretboard and the nickel sized bit of mahogany around the trussrod. The rest was pure composite. So this specification is either wrong or was mysteriously changed over time.
vintage guitar and bass Comment left 27th December 2011 22:10:52 reply
Hi Chris - thanks for your interesting comment. The descriptions above are Gibsons official specifications circa 1981. Gibson always put something along the line of 'we reserve the right to change specifications at any time'. So how many are wood vs resin is hard to know. The resin never really took off, so it may be just a small-scale trial, or more widespread in later Sonex's. What model Sonex was yours? Could you send pictures to me?
Jim Comment left 7th December 2011 06:06:40 reply
I have the same one with an orginal case bought from Speno's Music in Auburn, NY in the summer of 1981. I have played this guitar and LOVE it. Heavey yes but the sustain is better than any other guitar that you can buy today. Jim
Lyndon Comment left 19th November 2011 02:02:08 reply
I have a Sonex Custom for 20 years. Great guitar. It's finished in candy apple red - not one of the colours listed for this model. It has the coil tap switch, etc., and says 'Custom'. No sign of the neck having been changed. Any thoughts?
Chris Comment left 13th October 2017 20:08:55 reply
The Custom will have an ebony fingerboard which will be black unlike the Standard that has a rosewood fingerboard that will be brown in color. The first fret on the Custom will have a dot inlay, the Standard, and the Deluxe don't have one on the first fret. If the finish is worn on the back of the neck to bare wood you'll be able to see the three pieces of maple that were glued together only the Custom models have.
Ellen Comment left 4th May 2018 23:11:34 reply
Even though this is an old post, I want to clear this up for anyone else that is confused by the fact that they have a Candy Apple Red high-gloss Sonex CUSTOM model...YES, IN THE SECOND HALF OF 1981, THE LAST YEAR FOR THE CUSTOM MODEL, GIBSON SOLD THE SONEX CUSTOM IN A HIGH-GLOSS, CANDY APPLE RED FINISH!!! The reason that only White and Ebony are listed in the 1981 Gibson catalog as the colors for the Custom model is because those were the only 2 colors the Custom model was supposed to be offered in for it's last year, 1981. However, for whatever reason, about mid-way through 1981, Gibson made a batch of Custom models in a high-gloss, Candy Apple Red finish, just to confuse everyone, lol. I have owned a 1981 Gibson Sonex-180 Custom for about 7 years now, and it is BY-FAR my favorite guitar, ever. EVER. I am a rhythm player, a female with very long, thin fingers but unfortunately very small hands, and the Sonex just "fits" me perfectly. I play mostly punk and alternative/grunge/hard rock, so I absolutely needed the Bill Lawrence Dirty Fingers, the ORIGINAL DIRTY FINGERS, NOT THE NEW "REISSUES" WHICH HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH BILL LAWRENCE, DIRTY FINGERS PICKUPS, OR ANYTHING ELSE, THEY SUCK...SORRY GIBSON, BUT THEY SUCK... Anyway, yes, you absolutely can have a Sonex Custom in Candy Apple Red, it will by default be a 1981 model and is rare, as most of the red Sonex models are Deluxe models. And the Artist models also came in the same red color, but the Artist was a completely different guitar in my opinion, as they had active pick-ups and different circuitry entirely... Just to clarify, if you have the original headstock/neck, then your Sonex should say "Custom" or "Deluxe" above the nut on the headstock, that's clue #1, lol. Then to separate the Custom further from any other Sonex models, all Customs have a 3-piece maple neck, which is visible, and also had ebony fretboards, which look to be black in color as opposed to the dark brown rosewood fretboards all of the other models have. All Customs have original Bill Lawrence Dirty Fingers pickups, which are one of the most unique, gnarly, badass pickups ever made, as opposed to the Black Velvet Hammer pickups that the Deluxe models came with. The Custom models have a coil-tap switch as well. So if your Sonex has every one of these attributes, as well as saying "Custom" on the headstock, then it's a Custom. Just another FYI, the Custom models ONLY came in regular white, regular ebony black (most all Customs are one of these two colors), and then if you have a mid-1981 manufactured Custom it could also be high-gloss white or high-gloss Candy Apple Red. THESE ARE THE ONLY 4 COLORS THAT THE CUSTOM WAS EVER MADE IN, AND THE 2 HIGH-GLOSS COLORS ARE RARE...


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1971 Selmer guitar catalogue

1971 Selmer guitar catalogueScan of 1971 Selmer guitar catalogue showing the range of electric and acoustic guitars distributed by the company: guitars by Gibson, Yamaha, Selmer, Hofner and Suzuki. 1960s Selmer had always placed Hofner at the front end of their catalogues, no doubt these were the better sellers - but into the 1970s Hofner were slipping somewhat and only appear at the tail end of this publication, pride of place going to Gibson, and to a lesser extent Yamaha. In fact this is the last Selmer catalogue to include the many Hofner hollow bodies (Committee, President, Senator etc) that had defined the companies output for so many years - to be replaced in the 1972 catalogue by generic solid body 'copies' of Gibson and Fender models. A number of new Gibson models are included for the first time: the SG-100 and SG-200 six string guitars and the SB-300 and SB-400 basses.

1968 Selmer guitar catalogue

1968 Selmer guitar catalogueScan of 1968/1969 Selmer guitar catalogue (printed July 1968), showing the entire range of electric and acoustic guitars distributed by the company: guitars by Hofner, Gibson, Selmer and Giannini. Selmer were the exclusive United Kingdom distributors of Hofner and Gibson at the time, and this catalogue contains a total of 18 electric guitars, 7 bass guitars, 37 acoustics, and 2 Hawaiian guitars - all produced outside the UK and imported by Selmer, with UK prices included in guineas. This catalogue saw the (re-)introduction of the late sixties Gibson Les Paul Custom and Les Paul Standard (see page 69) and the short-lived Hofner Club 70. Other electric models include: HOFNER ELECTRICS: Committee, Verithin 66, Ambassador, President, Senator, Galaxie, HOFNER BASSES: Violin bass, Verithin bass, Senator bass, Professional bass GIBSON ELECTRICS: Barney Kessel, ES-330TD, ES-335TD, ES-345TD, ES-175D, ES-125CD, SG Standard, SG Junior, SG Special GIBSON BASSES: EB-0, EB-2, EB-3 - plus a LOT of acoustics branded Gibson, Hofner, Selmer and Giannini

1961 Hofner Colorama I

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1971 Commodore N25 (Matsumoku)

1971 Commodore N25 (Matsumoku)Commodore was a brand applied to a series of guitars produced in Japan at the well-respected Matsumoku plant from the late 1960s to the mid 1970s - and sold primarily (perhaps exclusively?) in the United Kingdom. The models bearing the Commodore name were all guitars available from different distributors with different branding. Although there may have been some minor changes in appointments (specifically headstock branding) most had the same basic bodies, hardware and construction. Equivalent models to the Commodore N25 (and this is by no means an exhaustive list) include the Aria 5102T, Conrad 5102T(?), Electra 2221, Lyle 5102T, Ventura V-1001, Univox Coily - and most famously the Epiphone 5102T / Epiphone EA-250.

1960 Hofner Colorama II

1960 Hofner Colorama IIThe Hofner Colorama was the name given by Selmer to a series of solid (and semi-solid) body Hofner guitars distributed in the United Kingdom between 1958 and 1965. The Colorama name actually applied to some quite different guitars over the period, but in 1960 it was a very light, semi-solid, set necked guitar with one (Colorama I) or two (Colorama II, as seen here) Toaster pickups. Although an entry-level guitar, it was very well-built, and a fine playing guitar; certainly a step up (at least in terms of craftsmanship) from many of the Colorama guitars that would follow, and a good deal of the guitars available in Britain circa 1960.

1971 Epiphone 1820 bass (ET-280)

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1981 Gibson Marauder

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1971 'Pick Epiphone' Catalog

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1981 'Gibson Specials' Pre-Owners Manual

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It was the largest folder in the series, with 24 inserts, (19 guitars and 5 basses): Guitars: 335-S Standard, Melody Maker Double, Marauder, L-6S Custom, S-1, RD Artist, Firebird, Firebird II, Flying V, Flying V-II, The V, Explorer, Explorer II, The Explorer, The "SG" Standard, Les Paul Artist, Les Paul Artisan, ES-335 Heritage, ES-175/CC Basses: Grabber, G-3, L-9S, RD Artist Bass, Flying V Bass

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1970s Shaftesbury 3263 bassRose-Morris were selling Shaftesbury-branded Rickenbacker copy instruments from the late 1960s right through the 1970s. The 3263 bass was one of the first models, (alongside the 3261 six string and 3262 twelve string) available from late 1968 until about 1974. The earliest incarnation was a set neck bass, produced very briefly in Japan. But production quickly moved to Italy. This bolt-on neck example was built by Eko, in Recanati, using the same hardware and pickups as fitted to Eko, and Vox basses built around the same time. It's certainly a fine looking bass, and not a bad player either.

1961 Hohner Zambesi

1961 Hohner ZambesiThis very early, and pretty rare British-built guitar is branded Hohner London. Hohner were, of course, a German company, better known for their harmonicas and accordions, but they were keenly expanding into guitars at the birth of the 1960s. This model, along with the Hohner Amazon and (particularly) the Hohner Holborn, bear some similarity with Vox guitars of the same period; furniture manufacturer Stuart Darkins constructed bodies and necks for both brands, with Fenton Weill assembling them using their hardware and pickups. These guitars do have some hardware peculiarities, and they are not the most adjustable of instruments, but they actually play very nicely, being solidly built out of some very nice woods. Check out the video on this page.

1963 Vox Super Ace

1963 Vox Super AceThe Vox Super Ace was a mid-priced British solid body electric guitar, produced by JMI at their factory in Dartford, Kent. It was broadly modelled on the Fender Stratocaster, and a sibling model to the dual-pickup Vox Ace. Both the Ace, and Super Ace (along with several other models), were redesigned in 1963 with a new body shape, headstock style, and pickup layout - only increasing the resemblance to the aforementioned Fender. The Super Ace had a 1963 price tag of 47 5S. It's a pretty nice playing guitar with some lovely sounds - check out the videos on this page, and in the Vintage Guitar and Bass supporting members area

1966 Vox New Escort

1966 Vox New EscortThe Vox New Escort was Vox's version of the Fender Telecaster, at a time when American guitars were out of reach for most British musicians. It was made by JMI in England, for the British market, and unlike the majority of other models, didn't have an Italian-made equivalent. But the New Escort wasn't a slavish Fender copy, adding Vox's stylish teardrop headstock to the tele-style body, with a stop tailpiece and two Vox V2 single coil pickups. And it's a pretty substantial, and nice playing guitar, with a very comfortable neck. Check out the images, specifications, and watch a video of it in action. There is also extra content in the vintageguitarandbass supporting members area.

1969 Fender catalog, Fender Lovin' Care

1969 Fender catalog, Fender Lovin CareCatalog scan. The 1969 Fender Lovin' Care catalog consisted of 48 pages of electric guitars, basses, amplifiers, steel guitars, acoustic guitars, banjos and keyboards. Like the previous catalog, this featured the company's guitars in a variety of interesting settings around California, from the Whiskey-A-Go-Go, to the Hollywood Bowl. Several instruments were making their first appearance amongst it's pages: the Telecaster bass, Montego and LTD jazz guitars, and the Redondo acoustic. It was the final catalog appearance, however, of the Electric XII, Bass V, Duo-Sonic, Coronado I and Coronado Bass I.

1973 Eko Ranger Folk

1973 Eko Ranger FolkThe Eko Ranger series of guitars was incredibly popular in the second half of the 1960s and through the 1970s, selling in very large numbers. The Ranger Folk was 1 1/4" smaller, and 1" shallower than the Ranger VI and XII - and with a narrower waist. Not a bad guitar; a little quiet, but pretty playable. These were great value in 1973, and because they sold so many, they are easy to find and excellent value today.

1966 Vox Symphonic bass guitar

1966 Vox Symphonic bass guitarThe Symphonic bass was built in the UK, by Vox parent company JMI. It was the Vox equivalent to the Fender Precision bass, and was one of the most expensive Vox guitars produced. It was actually a great playing bass, rather similar to the Precision in feel and sound, but was probably just too expensive compared to an actual Fender and consequently sold poorly. When Vox hit financial problems in 1968, unsold guitars and basses were passed on to Dallas Arbiter, who briefly sold the excess Symphonic bass stock as model 4537. This bass, although with a neck date of February 1966, was most likely one of the unsold Vox guitars sold on by Dallas Arbiter. Check out the bass, and the two video demos through 1960s Ampeg and WEM amplifiers.

1968 Shaftesbury 'Electric Guitars' catalog

1968 Shaftesbury catalogThe 1968 Shaftesbury 'Electric Guitars' catalog was just four pages long, and contained four guitar models: the six string Barney Kessel-style 3264; and three Rickenbacker-styled semi-acoustic models: the six-string 3261, the twelve string 3262 and the 3263 bass. Shaftesbury was the house-brand of major UK distributor Rose-Morris, and seems to have been launched as a response to the company's loss of it's distribution deal with Rickenbacker. The guitars were mid-priced, and built in (initially) Japan, and later Italy, by Eko

1970 Rose-Morris 'Exciting Electrics Wonderful Westerns Celebrated Classics' catalog

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.