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GIBSON | PRODUCT ALIGNMENT

Gibson Product Alignment

Gibson's non-Gibson brands: Kalamazoo, Epiphone, Gibson Guitar Co., and Epiphone USA

Product Alignment? It sounds like corporate jargon, and it is. In short, product alignment is the way that products are presented in the best possible light to different target audiences. In the case of Gibson guitars, a very different customer will buy an entry level solid body to a high-end carved-top jazz box, and only the biggest retailers would benefit from stocking the entire range. Gibsons have always been exclusive products, and the number of dealerships in an area has always been limited. But, with any fine product, there will always be a demand from dealers wishing to stock them, and from consumers who want a slightly more affordable version. A balance must be drawn between exclusivity, brand reputation and supplying this demand. Gibson's parent companies CMI and Norlin, and indeed todays owners, all dealt with this issue in a similar way over the years, primarily launching non-Gibson branded 'Gibsons'. The most obvious examples are the Japanese, Chinese, and Korean Epiphone Gibson copies, produced since 1970. But very many non-Gibson Gibsons were also built at the companies American plants over the years. This article takes a look at some of these American Gibson offshoots, and the changing face of Gibson product alignment in the CMI and Norlin periods.

Kalamazoo and Epiphone

Gibson first started producing a second brand of acoustic guitars in the 1930s, named Kalamazoo, after the home town of Gibson. These were rather nice instruments, not quite as fancy as those branded Gibson, but still some very nice guitars. Production ceased with the outbreak of World War 2.

As the 1950s dawned, electric guitars were slowly gaining popularity, increasing year on year with their continued use in popular music. Another major expansion in it's dealership networks came in the late 1950s, when then-owner CMI bought the Epiphone brand. By late 1958 Epiphone guitars were being built at the Gibson Kalamazoo plant, using much of the same materials and components as the Gibson models - but because they were distributed through an alternative network of dealers, CMI was able to massively increase the reach of it's Kalamazoo-built guitars, without upsetting existing dealers too much..

But Kalamazoo-built Epiphone guitars were of similar quality to Gibsons; not really aimed at a different market segment. As the 1960s wore on, cheaper solid bodies built in the US and imported from Asia were outcompeting Gibson on price, and although nowhere near a Gibson in quality, they were certainly getting better. So to increase market share, and tap into the ever growing ranks of young musicians, CMI resurrected it's 1930s Kalamazoo marque, taking the latest technology in man-made wood materials, and added a large pinch of Leo Fenders rationale in construction. The KG guitar and KB bass series sold very well. Although built in Kalamazoo, assembly of these guitars did not require the skilled workforce at the main Parson's Street plant, so production was based at plant II, 416 E. Ransom Street. It was still a US-built guitar, with Gibson hardware, but at a much-reduced cost. In late 1966 the entry level KG-1 cost $89.50, compared to $149.50 for the cheapest single pickup Gibson Melody Maker.

But as cheap Asian guitars improved in quality, and financial pressures continued to mount on American manufacturing, budget US brands like Kay and Harmony simply could not compete. Epiphone production was moved to Japan in 1969; it was no longer a marque on par with Gibson, but one aimed strictly at the lower end of the market, and hence replaced the Kalamazoo models.

The 1970s were a difficult time for a lot of American manufacturers, but there was sufficient demand for Gibson products that the Kalamazoo factory could not fill. A new plant in Nashville Tennesee was opened in 1974, but ironically this left Gibson with too much capacity, and the company failed to turn a profit from 1975 onwards. So Gibson had the factories and the workforce, and there was plenty of demand for entry and mid-level guitars. Just as it did with the Kalamazoo brand 15 years earlier, Gibson would take the latest developments in composite wood technology add a bolt-on neck and brand it with a name that eluded to it's heritage, whilst keeping it separated somewhat from the high end products that were truly Gibson.

Gibson Guitar Co.

Gibson Guitar Company USA logo
1980 US Gibson catalogue - contents page
The initial members of each series Professional, Firebrand and Sonex can clearly be seen in the contents page of Gibson's 1980 catalogue

In June 1980 Gibson released a newsletter entitled 'Gibson News', describing, amongst other things, new dealer authorisation plans for the Autumn of that year. In short, Gibson were to authorize it's main product line (it's Professional series) separately from it's acoustics, and again separately from a new range of entry/mid level instruments: the sonex series. This is NOT to be confused with the Sonex-180 guitars themselves - although they were in the series, later to be joined by the GGC 700. This meant certain dealers would get to sell Gibson's entire line, whilst others would only get to stock acoustics, or models from the sonex series.

Then there was the Firebrand series. Again not to be confused with the existing models with 'Firebrand' in their name, The "Paul" Firebrand and the The "SG" Firebrand, although, again these models were now included in the series, and were renamed The "Paul" Deluxe and The "SG" Deluxe.

Professional series
  • High gloss buffed product
  • Traditional Gibson peghead identification
  • Contains instruments that have a list price of over $650
Firebrand series
  • Semi-gloss buffed product
  • Branded peghead, logo identification
  • Priced below $650
Sonex series
  • Multi-phonic body construction
  • Gibson Guitar Co. logo identification
  • Priced below $450

The 1980 newsletter went on to explain in great detail about the three series, identifying characteristics of each: see table, left. Within each series any model could potentially have three instruments.

"it is possible for Gibson to introduce instruments which follow the good, better, best concept (triadic alignment) or Deluxe, Standard, Custom models. For example, theoretically, Gibson could introduce one instrument with nine possible models"

ProfessionalCustomno entry
Standardno entry
Deluxe335-S Deluxe
FirebrandCustom335-S Custom
Standard335-S Standard
Deluxeno entry
SonexCustomno entry
Standardno entry
Deluxeno entry

There were a number of guitars produced in late 1980/early 1981 that seem to defy Gibson's usual naming conventions, and this system of classification is behind each of these. So let's look at a couple examples. Firstly the newly introduced 335S; the high end model is the Deluxe rather than the expected Custom. As can be seen on the right, this relates to the fact that the Deluxe is in the Professional series, whilst the Custom and Standard are Firebrands. Should a 335S Professional Custom be launched, it would become the top 335S model.

How about the Les Paul? In the price list immediately following the product alignment announcement there were five Les Paul models in the Professional series, and, whilst not actually named 'Les Pauls', two in the Firebrand series. Already the 'triadic alignment' concept is breaking down. There is no way Gibson were going to call the Sonex guitars Les Pauls, but they were effectively the Les Paul's sonex series entry.

ProfessionalLes Paul Artist
Les Paul Artisan
CustomLes Paul Custom
StandardLes Paul Standard
DeluxeLes Paul Deluxe
FirebrandCustomno entry
StandardThe "Paul" Standard (previously The "Paul")
DeluxeThe "Paul" Deluxe (previously
The "Paul" Firebrand)
SonexCustomSonex-180 Custom
StandardSonex-180 Standard
DeluxeSonex-180 Deluxe
1982 Sonex-180 Deluxe1982 Sonex-180 Deluxe A few Sonex guitars made in mid 1982 were branded 'Sonex by Gibson' more

Moving on a year or so, and new models were being introduced, that don't adhere to the definitions of 'series' and the 'triadic alignment' suggested a year earlier. Whilst the idea of a separately authorised (ie available to more dealers) sonex series holds throughout the rest of Norlin's ownership of Gibson, the details are quickly forgotten. By April 1981's price list, the Firebrand series is gone, with the The "Paul" Deluxe moved to the Les Paul segment. And by the end of '81 Gibson had added two new models to the Sonex series, and whilst both have the 'Gibson Guitar Co.' branding, neither completely conforms with the chacteristics that define the series (above): the GGC 700 has a mahogany (rather than resonwood) body and Sonex Artist is priced at $799, way above the $450 sugested limit.

Although the changes described above were clearly planned at length, they were perhaps too complicated for full implementation, but they do explain a number of anachronisms: why the 335S Deluxe is a finer model than the 335S Custom, why The "Paul" and The "Paul" Firebrand were renamed The "Paul" Standard and Deluxe, and why the GGC 700 was part of the Sonex series, despite having a mahogany rather than resonwood body.

Epiphone USA

1983 Epiphone USA price list - contents page1983 Epiphone USA price list

Around the middle of 1982, Norlin decided to build Epiphone solid bodies back in Kalamazoo, (although production soon moved to Nasville) and brand them Epiphone USA. These guitars were additional to the Japanese Epiphone semi-acoustics still in production. Initially there were two models, the Spirit and Special, both first demonstrated at the Atlanta NAMM show, and shipped towards the end of the year. These were rather nice set neck models based on the Les Paul Double cutaway and the SG respectively. As the Fall 1982 issue of Gibson Gazette states: "We are proud to be championing a new trend back to American labor by offering the player a high quality professional instrument at a cost competetive with the foreign imports". These were actually really nice guitars, and very well priced. The entry level (single pickup) Spirit I had a list price of just $399 - placed around the same price point as the Sonex-180 Deluxe. The top of the range Spirit had twin pickups, a bound body and neck, and a very nice curly maple top. this was $624.99. About the same as the old (Firebrand) The "Paul" Deluxe.

1983 Epiphone USA Challeger and Corvus1983 Epiphone USA Challeger and Corvus

As 1983 dawned two new entry level models with bolt-on necks were added, the Challenger and Corvus, first shown at the NAMM winter market, January 1983. But as quickly as it arrived, Epiphone USA was gone. None of these guitars were deleted however, all were simply rebranded Gibson, and moved from the Epiphone price list (January 1983) to the equivalent Gibson list (June 1983) with no significant change in price.

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1982 Epiphone USA SG Special SG-I Made By Gibson Nashville American Guitar

1982 Epiphone USA SG Special SG-I Made By Gibson Nashville American Guitar

Benicia, California, 945**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$2500


This is a rare guitar. They only made these Epiphone USA models for a short period of time. This one is super cool. Includes the original case. This one is perfect to add to your collection.
The neck is straight and the truss rod turns in both directions.

Electronics are tested and working 100% as expected


Layaway plans are also available. Message us for details
Fast shipping! We ship same day or next business day. Feel free to message us with any questions ... more
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Epiphone USA Coronet Vintage Cherry with Case

Epiphone USA Coronet Vintage Cherry with Case

Santa Monica, California, 904**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1700

[contenteditable]{ pointer-events: none; }A Legendary Epiphone Original Comes Home to the USA
This Epiphone Coronet is part of the USA Collection. It is made in Nashville, Tennessee, by the same skilled luthiers and craftspeople who build all of the Gibson USA models with the same high-quality materials and design techniques
First introduced in 1958, the Epiphone Coronet is one of Epiphone??s first and most successful original solid body electric guitar designs, and now it has come home ... more
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1982 Epiphone USA SG Special II Kalamazoo

1982 Epiphone USA SG Special II Kalamazoo

Keene, New Hampshire, 034**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1150

1982 Epiphone USA SG Special II. Made in the USA at the Kalamazoo factory. Two piece poplar body with maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. Bridge pickup is replaced with an old Seymour Duncan JB-P. As seen in the photo it has adjustable pole pieces on both coils underneath the nicely aged nickel cover. Neck pickup is stock open coil Gibson stamped Pat. No. Pickup. Schaller wrap around bridge. Stock witch hat knobs. Two volumes and one tone. One tuning machine has been replaced. Typical wear and ... more
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VINTAGE USA EPIPHONE FT-79 Texan Guitar Hang Tag

VINTAGE USA EPIPHONE FT-79 Texan Guitar Hang Tag

Columbus, Ohio, 432**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$125

Original hangtag from a 60's FT-79 Texan acoustic guitar by Epiphone / Gibson. It has been folded
Please look closely at the pictures and feel free to ask questions
All my merchandise is 100% guaranteed as described. Returns are not accepted so please no bidding unless you want it By bidding you are confirming that you understand these terms. PayPal only Payment to be received no longer than 7 days from end of auction. If there is no contact after 7 days, item will be relisted and ... more
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1982 Gibson Sonex 180 Deluxe Aged Alpine White

1982 Gibson Sonex 180 Deluxe Aged Alpine White

Seattle, Washington, 981**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$869

Up for sale is a sweet and well worn 1982 Gibson Sonex 180 Deluxe in an aged Alpine White finish. A true warrior and survivor! Lots of finish wear, play wear, finish fading as well as two stable small stress cracks coming off either side of the nut and a one coming off the treble side of the neck pocket. New bone nut, otherwise original. Comes complete with a gig bag. Weight: 9lbs. 2oz.

NOTE TO OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS:
We want you to be happy with your purchase and we try to ... more
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1966 Epiphone Riviera Cherry Sunburst - Gibson-USA Made Vintage Guitar! es-335,

1966 Epiphone Riviera Cherry Sunburst - Gibson-USA Made Vintage Guitar! es-335,

Lee's Summit, Missouri, 640**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$6999


1966 Epiphone Riviera Cherry Sunburst - Gibson-USA Made Vintage Guitar!
Great vibe on this beautiful 1966 Epiphone USA Riviera. Made in the old Gibson Kalamazoo factory right next to ES-335's, 355's etc! These Epiphone's have a slightly different flavor than their Gibson counterparts like slightly longer scale, mini-humbuckers and different branding of course, but the build quality is identical. The mini-humbuckers sound amazing as usual. This guitar is a great ... more
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1981 Gibson Sonex 180 Deluxe Electric Guitar in Black Finish With Hardshell case

1981 Gibson Sonex 180 Deluxe Electric Guitar in Black Finish With Hardshell case

Harrisonville, Missouri, 647**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$995

1981 Gibson Sonex 180 Deluxe Electric Guitar in Black Finish With Hardshell case






Description
1981 Gibson Sonex 180 Deluxe Electric Guitar in Black Finish With Hardshell case This neat used Gibson Sonex 180 Deluxe from 1981 is in good shape and is a very neat black finish . It has a few very minor issues which I have tried to show in the photos. It comes to you in a nice Epiphone hardshell case and the guitar is all original and it plays just great. This is ... more
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1965 EPIPHONE von GIBSON OLYMPIC SPECIAL USA - 41 mm - JOAN JETT MODELL

1965 EPIPHONE von GIBSON OLYMPIC SPECIAL USA - 41 mm - JOAN JETT MODELL

COLOGNE, GERMANY

£1179

1965 EPIPHONE by GIBSON OLYMPIC SPECIAL - made in USA :
* finish stripped
* NO breaks
* needs parts
* SOLD AS IS - NO RETURNS... more
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1969 Epiphone Olympic - Made in USA

1969 Epiphone Olympic - Made in USA

COLOGNE, GERMANY

£1698

EPIPHONE OLYMPICmade in USA by GIBSON / 1969BODY MATERIALMAHOGANY - a stop tail piece was installedNECKMAHOGANYFINGERBOARDROSEWOODINLAYSDOTSPICKGUARDoriginal, wornFRETSare in good shapeTUNERSNEW tunersPICKUPS1 original singel cpoil & 1 Peavey humbucker was installedCONTROLS1 volume, 1 tone, 3 way selector , all new partsBRIDGEchrome tunematic styleOTHER PARTSnew pot knobsFINISHES2 tone sunburst, has laqur checking and wear... more
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1960 EPIPHONE von GIBSON MELODY MAKER USA - 50ERer LES PAUL - FLIEGENDE V GRIFFBRETT

1960 EPIPHONE von GIBSON MELODY MAKER USA - 50ERer LES PAUL - FLIEGENDE V GRIFFBRETT

COLOGNE, GERMANY

£1895

1960 EPIPHONE by GIBSON EPIPHONE MELODY MAKER USA - PROJECT : * 42 mm wide neck profile=same specs as 50's Les Paul Junior & FLYING V fingerboards
* very early single cut version
* refinished with a brush=rough
* routed for a Hagstrom tremolo
* fingerboard has play wear up to the 8th fret=check pic 7
* NO parts included
* old mahogany=TONE
* SUPER LIGHT !... more
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1964 EPIPHONE WILSHIRE  /  OLYMPIC VOLUME KNOB USA

1964 EPIPHONE WILSHIRE / OLYMPIC VOLUME KNOB USA

COLOGNE, GERMANY

€115

1 knob ONLY
... more
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1960 EPIPHONE von GIBSON MELODY MAKER USA - 50ERer LES PAUL  /  FLIEGENDE V GRIFFBRETT

1960 EPIPHONE von GIBSON MELODY MAKER USA - 50ERer LES PAUL / FLIEGENDE V GRIFFBRETT

COLOGNE, GERMANY

£2450

1960 EPIPHONE by GIBSON MELODY MAKER USA :
* refinished
* NO neck breaks
* 42 mm wide neck profile=same specs as 50's Les Paul Junior & FLYING V fingerboards
* 5 fingerboard dots are replaced
* bridge stud holes were filled for a tunematic conversion
* original pickguard & pickup
* new pots
* new tuners
* old mahogany=TONE
* SOLD AS IS - NO RETURNS
... more
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Gibson GGC-700 1981 Vintage Guitar

Gibson GGC-700 1981 Vintage Guitar

Northumberland , NE61***, UNITED KINGDOM

£1600

I have a very rare Gibson GGC 700
for sale from 1981
It's mostly original, including the very sought after original Gibson Dirty Fingers pickups with coil tap switch
It has a non original " All Pure Brass Bridge " made by Tokiwa Japan, which on research sells for quite a premium on its own
Schaller strap lock buttons fitted at some point
The guitar has aged yellow and uniformly all over
Under the pick guard is white by comparison
The pick guard has a small piece ... more
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1965 EPIPHONE by GIBSON OLYMPIC SPECIAL USA - JOAN JETT MODEL

1965 EPIPHONE by GIBSON OLYMPIC SPECIAL USA - JOAN JETT MODEL

COLOGNE, GERMANY

€1295

1965 EPIPHONE by GIBSON OLYMPIC SPECIAL - made in USA :
* finish stripped
* NO breaks
* needs parts
ATTENTION! OVER 1000 more
GUITARS-BASSES-AMPS-PARTS
in our OTHER AUCTIONS !!!
CHECK OUR SHOP OUT -------------->>>>>
... more
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1969 EPIPHONE OLYMPIC - made in USA

1969 EPIPHONE OLYMPIC - made in USA

COLOGNE, GERMANY

€1998


EPIPHONE OLYMPICmade in USA by GIBSON / 1969BODY MATERIALMAHOGANY - a stop tail piece was installedNECKMAHOGANYFINGERBOARDROSEWOODINLAYSDOTSPICKGUARDoriginal, wornFRETSare in good shapeTUNERSNEW tunersPICKUPS1 original singel cpoil & 1 Peavey humbucker was installedCONTROLS1 volume, 1 tone, 3 way selector , all new partsBRIDGEchrome tunematic styleOTHER PARTSnew pot knobsFINISHES2 tone sunburst, has laqur checking and wear
ATTENTION! OVER 1000 more ... more
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1980??s Gibson Sonex Moog Unit. Rare.

1980??s Gibson Sonex Moog Unit. Rare.

London, SW6***, UNITED KINGDOM

£275

I removed this moog unit from a very rare Gibson Sonex artist series 1980??s. Untested.
... more
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1965 EPIPHONE WILSHIRE - made in USA

1965 EPIPHONE WILSHIRE - made in USA

COLOGNE, GERMANY

€3332

1965 EPIPHONE WILSHIRE - made in USA :
* finished is stripped, original inverness green still visible in cavities
* small patch of wood on back=check pic 6
* serial number is faint
* no other parts included
* A FEATHER WEIGHT !
++PLENTY of PARTS for SALE ++
ATTENTION! OVER 1000 more
GUITARS-BASSES-AMPS-PARTS
in our OTHER AUCTIONS !!!
CHECK OUR SHOP OUT -------------->>>
... more
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1969 Epiphone Olympic USA

1969 Epiphone Olympic USA

COLOGNE, GERMANY

£1690

1969 EPIPHONE OLYMPIC - made in USA :
* body & neck only
* needs parts... more
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1967er  EPIPHONE WILSHIRE - made in USA

1967er EPIPHONE WILSHIRE - made in USA

Aumühle, 21***, GERMANY

€4230


Zum Verkauf steht eine Epiphone Wilshire, laut Seriennummergebaut Anfang 1967, in gutem, bespielbaren Zustand. Gebrauchsspuren sind nun, nach weit über 50 Jahren, nicht abzuleugnen. Schauen Sie sich dazu bitte auchdie Bilder an
Zur Historie:
Ein Unbekannter hatte die Gitarre in den siebziger Jahren inZahlung gegeben, und zwar im legendären George Music-Shop, der sich seit 1971 inder Hamburger Gärtnerstrasse befindet. Dort wurden die Bünde unter aufwändigerErhaltung des originalen... more
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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

1961 Hofner Colorama IHofner Colorama was the name UK distributor Selmer gave to a series of solid and semi-solid guitars built by Hofner for distribution in the UK. The construction and specifications of the guitars varied over the period of production, but by 1961 it was a totally solid, double cutaway instrument, with a set neck, translucent cherry finish, six-in-a-row headstock, and Hofner Diamond logo pickups. Available as a single or dual pickup guitar, this sngle pickup version would have been sold in mainland Europe as the Hofner 161.

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)

1971 Epiphone 1820 (ET-280) bassBy the end of the 1960s, a decision had been made to move Epiphone guitar production from the USA (at the Kalamazoo plant where Gibson guitars were made), to Matsumoto in Japan, creating a line of guitars and basses significantly less expensive than the USA-built models (actually less than half the price). The Matsumoku factory had been producing guitars for export for some time, but the 1820 bass (alongside a number of guitar models and the 5120 electric acoustic bass) were the first Epiphone models to be made there. These new Epiphones were based on existing Matsumoku guitars, sharing body shapes, and hardware, but the Epiphone line was somewhat upgraded, with inlaid logos and a 2x2 peghead configuration. Over the course of the 70s, the Japanese output improved dramatically, and in many ways these early 70s models are a low point for the brand. Having said this, there are a lot worse guitars out there, and as well as being historically important, the 1820 bass can certainly provide the goods when required.

1981 Gibson Marauder

1981 Gibson MarauderProduction of Bill Lawrence's Gibson Marauder began in 1974, with production peaking in 1978. But by 1980 the model was officially discontinued, though very small numbers slipped out as late as spring 1981. Over 7000 examples shipped between 1974 and 1979, and although no totals are available for 1980 and 1981, it is unlikely production reached three figures in either of these years. These final Marauders were all assembled at the Gibson Nashville plant, and had some nice features not available through the later years of production, such as a rosewood fretboard, and in this case, an opaque 'Devil Red' finish. It's a great looking and fine playing guitar!

1971 'Pick Epiphone' Catalog

1971 Pick Epiphone catalogWhen Epiphone production moved from Kalamazoo to the Matsumoku plant in Japan, a whole new range of electric, flattop and classic acoustic guitars was launched. Between late 1970 and 1972 the new models were launched and refined. This 'folder' catalog contains various inserts released over these years detailing four electric six-strings (ET-270, ET-275, ET-278, and thinline EA-250), three bass guitars (ET-280, ET-285, and thinline EA-260), three folk/steel acoustics, four jumbo flattop acoustics, two 12-string jumbos, four classic acoustics, and a banjo.

1981 'Gibson Specials' Pre-Owners Manual

1981 Gibson Specials Pre-Owners Manual'Gibson Specials' was part of the June 1981 pre-owners manual series, but unlike the other folders contained a mish-mash of different guitars: limited editions, test marketing and close outs. "You will find the unusual, the brand-new, and the bargain within this folder". End of line 70s guitars like the Marauder, S-1, and L-6S Custom mixed in with brand new models the The V, The Explorer and the Flying V Bass.
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

1970s Shaftesbury 3263 bass

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.